The fading roar of an ATV engine leaves silence in its wake. Birds, offended by the intrusion, refuse to sing. Grasshoppers stop their dance to consider their safety. Even the reliable mountain breeze hides. And, with the tidings of violence borne by the sounds of explosion in the engine’s combustion, I know I cannot blame them.
Only the September Utah sun is unbothered. The heat, originating so far away, is oblivious. The last rain fell weeks ago and the dust antagonizes the lump forming in my throat. My co-workers at the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District Trails Maintenance Department have dropped me off with a water bottle, work gloves, and an ancient, wood-handled rake that leaves half-inch splinters in my hand when I’m not careful.
I’ll be paid $12 an hour today to rake gravel and leaves from a freshly cut trail in the Wasatch Mountains high above Park City, Utah. My co-workers won’t be back for 6 hours. This is the same job I did yesterday and the day before, and I know now, from experience, that each stroke only pulls more gravel into the space my rake passes over. I watch a boulder watching me and wonder if he recalls Sisyphus, too. I wonder if I could move that boulder and push him up the hill. I wonder if the effort might provide some distraction. [Read more…]