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Picture of the Day
April 26, 2021

    It's funny how the things we do every day get so little comment, yet routine defines us more than the exceptional
stuff we like to pride ourselves on. Street parking is near impossible here and our house swappers dropped the ball in
providing us the proof needed to get a residential permit, so we're renting space at a parking garage a literal mile away.
It's not so bad, really, that walk serves as a warmup for the day's exertions and chance to decompress at the tail end. I'm
no fan of driving, or even owning a motor vehicle, but it's necessary when hauling tools and materials is your chosen
profession. There's a sinister black van I see parked on the street here, its rear bumper covered with far right bumper stickers. On the drive from garage to house to pick up more tools, I saw the van in motion, the first time I've seen its owner--an old white guy looking bitter and angry. It made me wonder how I present, like maybe my resting face tends towards scowl the older I get. I resolved right then to smile more because I don't want to look like that. It's too easy to wear one's world weariness. Today we started at John Heinz, our first job on federal land, and it got off to the kind of
start critics of big government such as the black van man might expect: Lack of communication did not bode well...

we were told to expect tools and helpers but that came as a surprise to the maintenance crew. But they stepped up quick, Carmelita, Hoan, and Hannah pitching right in to a pretty onerous task--digging through soil littered with concrete, bricks, and other debris, legacy of the site's history as an informal dump. We couldn't use a power auger for fear of disturbing potential utilitiy lines, so we chipped away at the trashy fill with shovels, post-hole diggers, trowels, and rock bars that made sparks and smoke striking granite and other rocks. I went and bought an 18" rotohammer bit to try to fracture the obstructions, and team leader Larry rented an electric jack hammer. None of this was light work and half an hour into it my arms and shoulders felt useless and sore but somehow you just power through and the second wind comes on. As hard as it was, everyone stayed in good spirits. You couldn't see smiles behind the masks, but those fresh-faced youngsters' eyes were shining and I kept thinking back to that black van's driver and the bleak emotional hole he's dug for himself.