Busy Season Begins at Lyford

The first six weeks at Lyford were on the slower side, with a full house only on the weekends. Since February hit, that has changed, and we will remain busy every day for the remainder of the month.

I’m glad to be out of that negative degree weather. After three weeks of negative twenty, anything above ten degrees feels like Springtime. If it’s twenty degrees and I’m hauling wood, I’m probably in a sweatshirt. Living this far north in Maine thickens the blood, makes me tougher.

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Me about to shovel a guest cabin. But where do I put the snow? =)

I am constantly dressed for the outdoors, always wearing a base layer, wool or fleece sweater, and a down wind proof jacket on top. Wool socks and thick boots on my feet, and when there is deep fresh powder, my bib snow-pants. There is not much point in changing into indoor clothes, because the separation between inside and outside is thin. I am rarely inside for long, constantly heading outside to replenish firewood, visit the compost toilet, clean the guests’ cabins, start their fires, take out the trash, etc.

Part of my day is spent maintaining several wood stoves at once. Safe to say I’m getting pretty good at starting a fire – four pieces of newspaper, four pieces of kindling, and one match ought to do it. The rest is all about proper oxygen flow and placement of the logs, that when done enough times, becomes a kind of game in competition with myself to build the best log structure.

I’m pretty used to the cold at this point. It’s not on the forefront of my mind as the past couple weeks have been ridden with power issues. Last week our generator and backup generator both failed, and we were running off these rechargeable batteries that provided very minimal energy. The power was going out multiple times a day, which affected mostly the kitchen. We cooked and prepared food in headlamps. The dishwasher could only run in short spurts of time, and often the batteries would die in the middle of a run. The other thing we’ve been dealing with, since the recent thaw, is minerals in the pipes leaching into the water, causing it to smell like sulfur, or as one guest so kindly put it, “dog shit.”  The water has been tested and is perfectly safe to drink. We probably need a new filter, but given we are so far out in the woods, it takes a while for materials to get to us.

Life is slower here in the 100 mile wilderness of Maine.

Most of the guests have been good about the power issues and sulfuric water, but there have been a few stinkers. I try not to focus on the bad eggs, given the majority of my experience at Lyford has been so positive, and I need to recognize my luck. For most of our guests, Lyford is a short vacation from their city/office jobs, but for me, this is life.

This is a job that teaches me to fight entitlement. Both in myself and society. Nature is unpredictable – beautiful and generous, or ugly and ruthless. We have to take her as she comes. Heat doesn’t come at the press of a button, we have to work for it. We plan, only to have the plan fall through the floor when something unpredictable happens. It’s important, when living at Lyford, to respond well and adapt accordingly as plans are constantly changing. And to a certain point, no one is special. Not even guests. We try our hardest, but when the water smells like sulfur because of natural occurrences, everyone has to deal with it. We can’t go to the store and pick up bottled water for every guest in a jiffy. That many snow mobile runs would take hours and hours of the staff’s time and energy, increase risk of health and safety, and take a major toll on our snowmobiles, which seem to need constant repairs as it is.

I’m lucky to have coworkers that remain so spirited and humorous as we deal with the ups and downs. When will everything worrrrrk???!!! is a question we groan in jest, knowing there will never be a day when everything works just perfect and dandy. Not during Winter in the 100 Mile Wilderness.

***These opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of AMC***

My Gut Says Logic is Overrated

I was recently given the opportunity to work on a farm for the summer, and I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to work outside in the beautiful Oregon sunshine, get my hands back in the earth. I was tired of working as a waitress, hating that I was spending so much time doing a job I didn’t like for the money. Sure, the farming job wouldn’t pay much, but at least I’d be doing something I was passionate about.

Later, I found myself on my laptop, staring at my student debt. Suddenly the idea of working on a farm for little pay seemed absurd. What I should do is pick up more hours at the restaurant or get a second job. I didn’t have time for fun, not yet. I had school debt, car payments, rent to pay. Focusing on making money seemed the more logical thing to do. Continue reading

The Phish Fest at The Gorge

“We’re like on a big hill right now!” Taylor says, referring to the thousands of people grooving on a grassy hill overlooking the Gorge amphitheater, the band Phish inducing musical waves upon us, the sea of heads drowning in dopamine. “We’re all being pulled towards the sound! No one is in the same place that they were before!” Taylor continues, in awe of the obvious.
“Gravity, dude!” I say, lightheartedly mocking the absurd pot-friendly hippie world we entered two days ago, like an alternate reality soaked in tie dye. Despite our state of mind, Taylor is right. No one in the crowd is in the same place they were before. Before the song, before the set, before the weekend. A weekend I can only describe as spectacular and extreme, from sweltering white heat to chilly darkness, relaxed bum-nothing days to sensory explosive nights, from who we are outside the Phish fest to who we are during. It’s the fourth and last set, and with the cotton candy sunset swallowed by nightfall, all I see are stage lights, blinking and twirling, stunning me into slack jawed amazement.

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Why go Wwoofing? (And What to Look Out For)

IMG_1141[1]Wwoofing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is something I’ve always wanted to do. and I can finally check it off my list! It was, overall, a fantastic experience that I would do again if I ever wanted to travel cheaply and volunteer at the same time. I became a Wwoofer through Wwoof USA but there is also Wwoof International and, for some reason Hawaii is special with their own Wwoof Hawaii. I started Wwoofing in North Carolina unsure of how long I’d tour, whether I’d travel to other states or not. Turned out, I loved North Carolina farms so much that I stayed for the whole two months! Below is a list of reasons why Wwoofing is a great experience, followed by things to expect/be aware of.
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The Travel Test

The first weekend Taylor and I traveled alone together was to Montreal for the Osheaga Music Festival last August. Towards the beginning of the drive, I was eating a cookie and using the paper directions on my lap as a plate to catch the crumbs. When I was done, I rolled the window down to let the crumbs out and with no regard to how fast we were going, leaned the papers into the wind. They instantly flew out of my fingers, disappearing behind us.

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