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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Journal Entry - Life on the Cherry Farm

Dear Diary,

My fingers have become noticeably crusty and black with dirt and pesticide. Their ends slightly hurt, and it's sometimes tough to grip things. But my fingers are satisfying evidence of the hard physical work I've done cherry picking.

I have now spent 3 weeks on the cherry farm. As I generally enter new experiences with no expectations, life as a cherry picker by default has exceeded my expectations. However, the experience has been truly amazing and has felt more like a dream. I'm amazed and humbled everyday by the intensity and skill required to do cherry picking. And I'm in love with camp life.
Hiking on a day off
The people are what truly makes any experience and this is no exception. There is a real diverse mix of ethnicities and personalities to keep every day interesting. Over half of my campsite is comprised of Quebec origin. I don't know why, but I'm guessing it's the European connection. Quebec's culture is very similar to Europe, and Europeans are generally open to new experiences such as the travel and work lifestyle. Speaking of Europe, there is a large group of Czechs here, as well as individuals representing other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Russia.

My favourite moment of camp so far happened on one of our rare days off. On this rainy night, a dance party broke out in the kitchen area, the music blaring from an old and small iPod stereo and people starting to show their dance moves. It began raining heavily outside, with rain falling beside the dance area, which was roofed but was open on one side. One girl started dancing in the rain. Everyone was initially shocked and started waving her in, but soon one girl joined her, and then eventually almost everyone ran out into the rain to dance!

With so many talented people in such a small space, the campsite has occasional random moments. One evening a guy performed poi, or fire spinning. One afternoon, a guy and a girl invited everyone to watch them dance tango. I recently watched someone giving his friend a tattoo using the stick and poke technique. I'm looking forward to the tie dye party which we are planning soon.
Poi - the art of spinning rope with balls of fire on the end
The kitchen can be full of nice surprises too. I've been able to cook a lot of my favourite recipes, and turn heads doing it. But while it's common to see a lot of cheap, instant foods such as pastas and noodles, a few cooks are always making wonderful creations from scratch. I've been able to trade my home made beer and cooking for kombucha, home made root beer, and muffins. A few people have come back with boxes of dumpster dived food and I helped to clean and keep some of the foods. Just today, a few people are making cherry wine!

Life's a beach here. I've spent quite a lot of time on various beaches on the Lake Okanagan. I hope to make my way to a well known cliff jumping spot just off nearby Lake Kalamalka, or to bike along the Kettle Valley Trail. And hopefully to join a group that regularly goes rock climbing. At least I've managed to go on a few hikes in the area.
Relaxing on Coral Beach (the actual beach and not the farm)
It's sometimes hard to get away from the people and find time for solitude and individual activities. I'm very ambitious though and intend to do as much reading, (blogging,) cooking, yoga, meditation, and learning harmonica as I can. I am also learning French by podcast and through conversing with some of the French speaking people in my camp (also a few words here and there of Czech and Spanish).

My favourite one or two hours of the day is usually when I get to read (while snacking on potato chips) and sleep in a hammock. At this rate I should finally be able to finish the tremendously long novel Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky, which I started too long ago to admit!

These exciting times, combined with the hard work of cherry picking, makes the problems of camping seem small. Sleeping in a tent isn't so bad after doing it for 3 weeks straight. Spiders and bugs are a non-issue. And I'm lucky to be a driver, so I don't have to hitchhike to get into town, like many here do, when the shuttle bus for groceries isn't running.

And whenever I do get exhausted with waking up at 3:30 am every morning to go cherry picking, or the pain in my fingers becomes unbearable, I like to remind myself that my problems are not so bad - first-world, really. In fact, whenever I look out from my tent and see the view of the lake, or when I meditate, I am able to remind myself of how lucky I am to be here, and to just be in the present.

More pics here -
Holding a baby wallaby at the Kangaroo Zoo in Winfield, near my farm

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