In mid-May, I gathered with 20-some fellow tree planters in Bonaventure, Gaspésie for the same reasons as usual: money, outdoor living and friendships forged through adversity and isolation. The only difference in the formula this time was COVID-19.
Before the season started, we were informed of the procedures put in place to prevent an outbreak: allowing a maximum of two people in the same room at once, mandatory disinfections of the kitchen after use and the wearing of visors inside cars. I quickly realized that only the visor rule was being respected. Even this simple instruction only lasted about a week, though, after which car floors were littered with dirty and broken visors, among other planting-related objects. Quite frankly, it felt like we lived in a world unaffected by the pandemic.
Forestry activities were included in the list of essential services put together by the Canadian government last spring, which gave silviculture companies the go-ahead for their 2020 season (silviculture, in case you didn’t know, is the practice of controlling forest growth for timber production). This meant that thousands of young folks across the country were able to take on the ‘Canadian Rite of Passage,’ (a.k.a going tree planting) for another year. You’ve probably met one of them, even if you aren’t already a tree planter yourself. Some of them, like myself, are students at Concordia.
The following images are an explanatory testament to my 2020 season of tree planting, cut short due to an injury. All photos were taken on 35mm film with a Pentax K1000, a 50mm lens and a fascination with the job’s aesthetically pleasing sceneries.