My seat mate on the flight back from Iceland was Harold Smith-Perez. We started talking by making fun of the stewardesses’ makeup. In the bright sunlit cabin it looked like someone had lined them up and spray painted them all the same colour. After we were both intrigued by that, he told me that he had been tree planting for 10 years, then we had lots to talk about.
Harold has Spanish, British and Canadian citizenship so he can work in Britain and Europe without any extra paperwork. He had been planting trees in England in January and February and then visited family in Spain. His flight to T.O. in the last week of April allowed him a short visit with his family before he had to drive out to Grand Prairie, where he is the crew boss at a tree planting camp in the mountains. When he drives to Grand Prairie, his second night out is spent in a tent at Kakabeka Falls, so we had that to talk about, and he remembered the smell of Dryden.
Harold knew a little bit about someone I have to call “ Blue Bus Contractor “. He said the planters were only getting 10 cents per tree last year. I said that I wasn’t impressed with the junky old buses they take to the bush and that their camps have no showers set up ( the nose knows! ).
I told Harold about the trash bear that was relocated out of Kenora and dropped near the tree planting camp. The bear subsequently badly mauled a man. He was only saved by his coworker driving a truck over him to get the bear off. Harold told me he had to advance on a black bear last year while swinging a cut down mini shovel. The bear didn’t give until Harold was about 8 feet away. He said he wished he had a bigger shovel.
When Harold told another story, he was more upset than he was about the bear. The cook at the camp poisoned the peanut allergy planter twice last summer. The guy was a good guy but he just had to leave then.
Harold is a slim medium height man, I assume he’s tough as whipcord. He matter of factly said he plants 3,000 trees per day, but says you have to have a day off every week, and doesn’t know how long he can do planting.