Mean Hands, Mean Work

I looked at my hands this week and I didn’t expect anything less.

A few days spent in the relentless winter rain and cold – albeit in the woods – made me realise what I’d got myself into during the hardest of seasons. However I was relieved to have that filth and cragginess on my hands; it represented hard work and my willingness to graft. Despite my physical limitations (in height and strength) I thoroughly enjoy grafting, and at the end of each day as I rinse the dirt off my fingers, my waterproof trousers and shoes completely caked in mud, I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to feel grounded.

What does it mean to do a day of physical work? Perhaps it’s something unfathomable by cosmopolitan men and women who prefer a life of sitting behind a desk all day as they tap away at their computers. Or ‘reality’ stars who pose and pout for videos that make them millions of pounds without having to lift an arm. City folk who wear their sparkling white trainers on a walk through the muddy countryside, their attempts to avoid getting their shoes dirty completely fallen short. I’m glad that has never been me.

From a young age I was always willing to explore rugged places, to do something completely different and non-conforming. I was a rebel and a tomboy in the eyes of the society I grew up in, but I’ve been jumping at every opportunity there is to further my insights and learn as much as I can about this wild planet that we live on. The people whom I’ve looked up to – war photographers, wildlife conservationists, vets, foresters, people that live in the wild – this was my tribe.

So despite winter being the season for woodland management work, despite the freezing rain that beats down on my jacket and the biting cold through my wet gloves, I have enjoyed this season so far and see no sign of backing out of the path that I’ve chosen. By embracing the good and bad that accompany my passion for trees, I can better appreciate my mucky fingers, cuts, bruises and all that come with it.

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