I am sitting in the common lounge nearly dead-center in employee dorm housing. There are about 20 rooms here all on a single level. There are double and quad rooms, laundry facilities and cleaning supplies. We have a free stuff pile and outdoor space when wether permits. I share my room with another woman around my age. Neither of us is excited about living with a roomie, but here we are, figuring it out.
I just worked my second day at my summer job in Gunflint Lake near the boundary waters of northern Minnesota. I am finally in the wilderness, amongst the trees and fresh air. I no longer drive to work and I am outside a good portion of the day. I hear more birds than people, feel the cold breeze and see fewer cars. I am in my happy place. I am out of the city and out of the warehouse. I am home.
I chose this job because of the location and nature of the work. I chose to work during my second year of pilgrimage for a couple reasons. Sure, I spent more than I anticipated during year one, but I also wanted to spend more time in places I was drawn to, liked, or did not get to see. I figured a job that provides housing and days off would meet both of those goals. I applied for jobs I thought I would like and I did not take the highest pay job, either. I was intentional in my choices and weighed all known variables.
I work as an outfitter. In short, people sign up to go out on the boundary waters and we hook them up with everything they may need for a remote outdoor adventure on the water. They can pick and choose which items we provide and it goes from there; food, tent, sleeping bags, cookware, equipment bags, canoe, etc. We take them and their gear to a particular drop-off point and we pick them up later.
I can already tell that this will take a lot of learning. I have a gigantic curve I need to bend! Each day my brain is stuffed with more and more information about this area. I get frustrated with myself, but I have to be gentle and remember that is has only been a few days. I know the Pacific Northwest like I know the back of my hand, just as these folks know this area like the back of theirs. I will never know it like they do, but I am anxious to know enough to make our guests feel confident when I am working with them. I will need some patience.
Right off the bat I am frustrated with the food situation. The closest grocery stores only have pick up orders available and they do not have inventory selections on line. You have to look at their photos and basically create a detailed list over email or they shop for you with you on the phone. Then, you have to get there to pick up it. This will be a challenge and I hope one that passes as Minnesota starts to open up services and public areas.
My roomie and I share a bathroom, kitchen with fridge, microwave and two burner stove. No real oven and, to be honest, cooking will be minimal or not at all. She is providing a convection oven which will be good for toast and some frozen pizza. Time to rethink food again. Food is a constant area of challenge for me, given the nature of the various kitchens and/or equipment I have access to. I will figure it out, as I always do.
More change, more adjusting and more adventure. This first placement will be a good intro into this world of seasonal, temporary and outdoor type jobs. COVID has changed the nature of this work, too, and I am pretty lucky to even have this job. More change on top of the usual change.
I give myself time; to learn, adjust, adapt, figure it out. I give myself patience; with new people, places, lack of amenities. I give myself the beauty and wonder of the wilderness. I give myself this gift of this time and this place.
Cheers to the vast expanse of Mother Nature and to the depth of being human.