Some of us sit at our computers and watch the world from our windows, buttoning cardigans in response to the chilly winter view.
We gird ourselves for our small battles with Mother Nature, bundling up to trudge across the frozen expanse from office to automobile. Then we close the door, buckle up, and wait as the defroster warms up. Victorious against the elements, we may celebrate with a hot chocolate from the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through.
Then there are those who work outside, all day, every day, season after season.
For some, it is a labor of love, particularly for those whose work brings them into contact with the natural world. The outdoor life brings them far more joy than they would ever find in a climate-controlled cubicle.
“There’s always something to look at,” said Dan Small, 53, the park ranger at Lynn Woods Reservation, who has held an indoor job for just a year and a half of his adult life. “If you work in a cubicle, you have the same view all the time, unless something changes on your computer screen. I’ve worked here for 13 years, and I just saw two barred owls, two days apart, in completely different parts of the park. I’d never seen one before. I was amazed.”
For those who work outdoors north of Boston, surrounded by and dependent on nature, this time of year can bring deep snow, stinging cold, and heavy winds. In six months, that might be replaced by scorching heat and mosquitoes. Whatever the weather brings, they pull on their layered clothing and Gore-Tex, or reach for sun block and bug spray. Then they go to work.
Kristen Herrick, farmer, Rowley
Kristen Herrick rolls out of bed every day at 5:30 a.m. to milk the cows at 6. Twelve hours later, she’ll milk them again.
“There’s the stereotypical image that the farmer gets up at 4 a.m., but that’s more if you’re doing the morning shift,” she explained. “For a family farm, you do both.”
Her father, Sam Herrick, 51, took over the Rowley farm from his father, but he started building the dairy herd from the time “he was little.” The herd numbers more than 200.
Kristen Herrick planned to become a teacher, but instead joined her dad and brothers on the family farm.
“I do everything I can,” said Herrick, 28, who is licensed to teach but opted to help during what has been a tough time for farming. In season, she’s in charge of vegetables — the farm has a Community Supported Agriculture program as well as a roadside stand on Route 133 — and in the winter she cares for the cows and plans for the growing season.
“When we get a lot of snow, you can’t do extra things, but you always have chores. The cows need to be fed, they need to be cleaned, they need to be milked, but we have to make everything accessible. When you have a foot of snow, [clearing it] takes up all the time between morning chores and afternoon chores.”
She dresses in layers to prepare for changing conditions during the day. There are times when she has to work in pouring rain or other adversity. The worst thing, she said, is being stuck inside on sunny days.
“When I’m working indoors, I miss working outdoors,” Herrick said.
Roger Thurlow, Mass. Environmental Police
The state’s Environmental Police officers enforce the conservation laws of the Commonwealth, protecting its environment and natural resources. Their broad set of responsibilities takes them out on the water and into the woods, enforcing catch-and-bag limits and making sure recreational activities are conducted safely.
In a typical week, an officer may patrol the coast in a boat one day and tromp through the woods the next.
“Especially at this time of year,” said Lieutenant Roger Thurlow, 53, who supervises the M-1 Region, a 15-municipality area that extends from Salisbury to Swampscott, “our job focus changes seasonally. The hunting seasons generally take us through the fall months, so we could be patrolling wildlife management areas during the stock pheasant season, checking deer hunting areas, and we could also be getting underway for a fisheries or boating safety patrol at any time of the year, especially with commercial fishing being a year-round business.”
Officers might also be on the ice, at an event like the annual fishing derby on the Artichoke Reservoir in Newburyport, checking equipment, limits, and fishing licenses.
It’s important to dress appropriately, Thurlow said, and while conditions aren’t always ideal, the officers don’t let the weather interfere with the job.
“Each officer has a district of responsibility, and it’s kind of an ownership thing,” he said. “The officers look at their district as their primary responsibility, to enforce the laws in their district. Continued...