|Pitch from the Pine|
I am working seasonally now. At the end of the day, I look at my hands and I see the work still there- resin from the greenery that I've snipped all day long, slits tiny and puffy from the pruners that caught skin instead of pine tips. The work still lingers in my muscles- my neck, stiff and tired, my back tight and inflexible. Black under my fingernails and needles in my hair- and I smell, even after a good long soaking in Epsom salts and lavender steaming from the bathwater, I stink of evergreen. Physically exhausted by 8:00 PM, emotionally numb sooner and spiritually averted all the live long day until I sink into sweet dreams almost immediately upon retiring. By 5:00 AM, I am up and ready to do better, go longer- make more centerpieces. I breathe deep in and deep out, forty times if necessary to calm my nerves down by the time I pull into the parking lot where many more workers just like me come and work to do better, give better, fill their heating oil tanks up to get through the longest, harshest hardest winters here in Maine. And now I know my neighbors better. Now I listen more to what is unspoken and less to what is said. I see the hands, just like mine- busy and blackened by the thankful work of the season.
And I wonder, do they have an inkling too of the joy that attends these pieces that go all over the world, here from Maine? Do they wonder if the recipients take to heart the hands, the many many hands that build a bit of Christmas in each and every piece, do those recipients realize the gladness of doing something that puts money in pockets that go for far too long empty here in this Downeast county? When they pull the fragrant objects from the shipping bags out onto their dining table or mantle- do they realize the effort of so many that have so little, from the snippers at the tables to the cutters in the forests that tip the trees that barely notice the pruning that is but a little healthy take of overgrowth?
I didn't know all of this. Didn't realize a wreath I purchased through L.L. Bean served so many hands of hands and heated homes, and had it not been for this seasonal labor opportunity, so many would go without.
I see now that folks around here are not lazy, no- far from it. They are hard workers, the hardest I've seen- ever. But there is so little employment opportunity, so little educational opportunities, but not so little spirit in loving any and seemingly all positions of employment. Work is a blessing to these folks, they count it as such.
I recall my first visit to Maine- I hit the nail on the head when I reckoned that Mainers celebrate the slightest win. They do. And they laugh all along and anyway, and tell stories while standing for hours on end, cutting, snipping away the dread of little Christmas and heat- this year with this wreath comes Christmas, comes heat, comes relief to the spirit- a temporary improvement but improvement none the less.
I am not one of them, I am from away. But I do see now how much the same we are, when the going gets tough, the tough get snipping. We do not make ends meet so much for comfort- but to comfort all and who we love by this work on our hands.