Winter Has Its Upsides

Mike Oxendine Mike Oxendine
Parks Superintendent, Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission for Talent, Oregon

I recently read an article about seasonal affective disorder in Nordic countries and ways they deal with the cold and darker days. What I gleaned from it was that attitude and cultural traditions can help keep people’s spirits burning bright all winter long. The cold, wet season can be a time of reflection and the creation of new traditions or daily rituals in your own crew which may help everyone focus more on the positives. Maybe this way of thinking will help us to mimic the natural cycles that we are all so attuned to in tree work. Spring brings to us regeneration and new growth, Summer vigorous growth and abundance, Fall the fireworks show and energy storage, and Winter recharge and reflection.

If you’re feeling a bit of the seasonal gloomies or maybe just ready to refresh the positive vibes on your team or crew maybe it's a good time to revisit why you do what you do. What attracted you to tree work in the first place, and what’s kept you here? What are the things you love about your work?

Winter can be a great time to revisit your goals. Spend some time mapping out a plan to accomplish your goals, believe me, it is well worth it. Are there credentials you still want to achieve? Perhaps you have considered the Municipal SpecialistAerial Lift SpecialistTree Risk Assessment QualificationBoard Certified Master Arborist, or maybe you are wanting to get your Tree Worker Climber Specialist. You might be able to knock some of these goals off your list by competing in a PNW-ISA Regional Tree Climbing Competition and attaining your Climber Specialist in a supportive and uplifting environment. The first climbing comp of the season is on May 2, 2020 in Ashland, OR. Consider signing up here.

Whatever your situation, remember that creating traditions and building culture starts with a single action and builds over time. It can do amazing things to help create positive team morale and build loyalty, too. Our teams may need a little extra morale pick me up, especially over the winter. Actions as simple as developing a team ritual of stretching together, sharing stories over coffee time, group yoga, supportive team trainings, or simply eating together can all bring a team together and lift your spirits. As a friend once said to me every morning when I asked him how he was doing, “I am so up right now.” That attitude always lifted my spirits too.

Climbing in the cold has its challenges but at least you don’t have sweat in your eyes. So, put some hot packs in your pockets, a jet boil in the truck, a buff over your neck, and a warm lunch heating on the dash defrosters or chipper motor, and get up in some trees. After all, today’s a great day to be up.