Field notes

Getting Ready for Field Season

A Blog, By Jennifer Gainer, B.Sc.


Every year, November comes around, and most of us are relieved to get some well-deserved, well-needed time off. Then February comes by, and Balzac Billy tells me, “Six more weeks of winter,” and like any sane individual, I start to PANIC! Six weeks??? I thought I never had to go outside again!! What have I been doing with my winter??? I don’t want to go out on my first shift and need to catch my breath while walking over seven pieces of deadfall, and what about my to-do list? So, after a brief moment of panic, and maybe a Bill Murray movie, it’s time to get into “Pre-Field Mode” (PFM for the hip crowd… okay, the “OH MY Hip” crowd.)

We recently sent out a call to see what people do in the off-season to prepare for the Field Season, and here were our results. (Apparently, my goal was to make more fun charts!)

As you can tell, working out or staying fit was the number one way people are preparing for the field, and with good reason! Our job is physically demanding on a daily basis, and if you go four months without any physical activity, your first shift will be a tough one. However, there are many ways to stay in shape without necessarily going to the gym. I’m personally training for a marathon. In the end, it will be a half marathon, or perhaps a marathon session at the ice cream shop, but it keeps me moving almost every day, and I’m also faced with the changing weather conditions. For those who like themselves, simple walks, hikes, strength training, swimming, or anything that gets you off the couch are a good way to stay in shape and provide some important socialization opportunities with your often neglected friends and family.

Relaxation is a great way to get ready for field season. I know what you are thinking, “Hey, wait? That lady just told me I should be out running a marathon and now she is saying ‘just relax’?”. Yes, that is what I am telling you. Our jobs are very go go go for a huge portion of the year, and many of us are completely burnt out by November (September? July?), so it is very important to relax in your off time so that you can start off as a fresh piece of bread in May. Now, I m not saying you should be dough (see point number 1), but if you come into the season with the toaster already on, you will be completely toasted come next winter.

A good way to relax is just to do nothing. I fail at this almost every day, so it does take a little work. Doing hobbies is also a good way to relax. I know a few of our employees have taken a few crafting classes over the winter, and we all know someone who is in the process of building a chair or a sword. I also find a nice way to relax is to make time for my friends. In the summertime, I feel like I have to carve out time for coffee somewhere between cutting my lawn and getting a spinal adjustment. Is grocery shopping a friend date? Whereas in the winter, I have much more time to see my friends. They can join me on my run, or maybe they can be my excuse to just sit for a few hours and not move my feet? Find your relaxation now because I am never below a number 2 toast in the summer.

Everyone’s favorite way to relax is to go on a vacation. I went on two staycations myself, one which ended with me being “trapped” in Revelstoke with no way out! However, some of us may bravely go off into the unknown territory of “International Travel During Covid.” Some of you may remember when the majority of our permanent staff went on vacation in March of 2020. One of our members was weighing the options of Paris or New York, and I say, why not both?

The next three things I am clustering together in the Let’s Face It, Its Work category. As much I would like to run and nap all day while occasionally having a hobby, sometimes you just have to work. Every three years, it is doomageddon with safety. All of your tickets expire sometime between your 17th nap and your 25th mile, and you can no longer work. This is my doomageddon year. First aid, ARGO, Ground Disturbance, TDG, did I forget something? Yes, and that is why I am here. Many of us are in the same boat, so please be a little patient when I have to take a last minute first aid class instead of going to coffee.

A few of my colleagues are writing their theses at the moment, which while not technically work, takes up a whole lot of time and effort and might as well just be work. But, like safety, they will need this to continue with their careers. So I wish them all the luck, and if you get a phone call in the middle of the night asking for a coffee and a scone, please drop everything and deliver it to these poor unfortunate souls.

One of the responses was so precious and literal that it made me smile. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that not everyone at work even has an off-season. Sure they are not getting panicked emails about how they needed something done yesterday (well, at least not as often, I hope). Their way of preparing for the field season is completely different than mine. While I am off napping, quilting and running, they are analyzing charts and tables to find an efficient way to make the 2022 field season go as smoothly as possible. This one is for the office staff! The true heroes of the winter. Again, stop by the office with a good joke or a treat, because man, these people deserve it!

One last way I prepare for the field season is to do what TV tells me every girl does best; SHOPPING. I don’t think I’m the best at shopping, but I do believe it’s important and here are my tips of the decade. Right after Christmas is a great time to pick up things for the field. Many people have cleaned out their closets, and the thrift stores are full of great field clothes. I am writing this blog while wearing my $200 barely worn “Ice Breaker Merino” shirt that I got for $8. It’s also not just the thrift stores with the deals; many stores have their pre-inventory sales where they are clearing out 2021 styles to make room for the slightly different 2022 styles. So if you don’t mind that your field clothes are “so last year,” now is the perfect time to replace or upgrade your clothes. Another pro-tip, April is a good time to buy winter boots. A few years back, I made the best purchase of my life and got -40 rated Baffins for $80. I believe I tried them on in shorts, but my feet do love me for it in the winter.

So there you go, try a balance of staying fit while relaxing, hopefully on a nice beach somewhere, and you will be ready for the field season. Don’t forget to thank those who are working hard in the background to make sure that we don’t relax out of a job. See ya’ in the field, your best pal, Jennifer.




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