Any given day at work: dramatic precipitation fluctuations, brief views of the Olympic Mountains across the Henderson Inlet, irritable Great Blue Herons competing for a prime fishing spot along the shore, perhaps the sound of playful seals slapping their tales on the water. All the while diligently planting Oregon Grape, Salmon Berry, and Sword Fern along an eroding slope.
Evergreen and the greater Olympia community is known for its tightness, its closeness. Throughout my Evergreen career I have discovered the ubiquitous connections that exist around here in a variety of settings.
My current summer job is for a man anonymously named Jeffy. I originally met Jeffy while working at Sound Native Plants, a native plant nursery near Evergreen. Things have changed and I no longer work at Sound Native Plants, but work for Jeffy’s “Edible Plants in Natural Landscapes” business.
Olympia has a reputation for its wet and dark winters. The puget sound area and greater Pacific Northwest is home to some of the largest trees in the world and what is in global scarcity: rain forests. And while the wet can be a bit of a bummer, finding yourself outside admiring the green and appreciating the botanic prosperity offers a fantastic remedy. This is exactly what working with Jeffy has been for me.
We ride together in his old blue pickup talking Nietzsche, politics, Olympian culture, or pointless goofiness. In the back are the huge Akita pups who come with Jeffy everywhere. He’s raised a family of Akitas for quite some time now along with a family of goats on the pasture out by Mud Bay.
The dogs pant and bark for attention while we drive the tired pickup out to a property on Johnson Point. We sip our coffee and anticipate sweat, mud, and plants.
The work is strenuous, healthy. We work hard and there is satisfying evidence of it at the end of the day. A lot of time has been devoted to ridding the area of noxious interlopers like Blackberry and English Ivy. But once these invasives have been dealt with we can begin planting native sustenance and cover the soil with protective red cedar mulch.
I’ve come to realize there is an art to many types of labor work. It’s good to have the type of work I do, as it is both beautiful and in harmony with the natural rhythms of our region. In addition it’s important to be outside and develop a better understanding, a better relationship with our world. It’s healthy for our hands and arms and legs to be used, to get muddy, to be tired by the end of a work day. It feels good.