Cool jobs for those who can weather it
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“Duck hunters love the rain, for some reason. I was a duck hunter myself, and can look back on the days when I used to spend a lot of time walking the marshes in Salisbury and Newbury.
“The rain didn’t bother me, and when I came on this job I knew there’d be duck hunters out, even in the rain, so I got out there, and dressed accordingly.”
Dan Small, park ranger, Lynn Woods
As park ranger for the city-owned Lynn Woods Reservation, Small is responsible for the maintenance and management of approximately 3,000 acres of forested land, including the nation’s second-largest municipal park and abutting woodland.
“Right now, I’m still cleaning up after [Hurricane] Sandy,” Small said recently, before last weekend’s massive snowfall, which added some problems. “The roads are open, but there’s still 23 trees left on my list that are blocking the side trails. So, I literally have to take the saw, throw it over my shoulder, and go for a hike. Sometimes it’s three-quarters of a mile out and three-quarters of a mile back just to cut one or two trees, but I have to get the trails open again. We can’t leave them blocked.”
The only ranger at the reservation, he works five days a week, from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., maintaining the grounds, leading educational tours, and troubleshooting any problems that might arise, from coyotes getting aggressive with dogs to squatters setting up camp in the woods.
For the most part, he said, there are very few issues at a spot that has become increasingly popular for dog walkers, runners, and hikers, even in winter.
“It’s packed,” Small said. “I was walking out to one of the parking lots the other day — not even on a Saturday, but a Thursday — and there were 37 cars in the parking lot. When I first started working here, on a winter day like that, there might be three people here. I couldn’t believe it.”
Small enjoys the work, even in the bitter cold.
“You learn to dress for it,” he said. “I may not be a fashion plate, but I’m not cold. I may look like one of those guys from Stalingrad, but it gets the job done.”
Nate Levie, boat-yard worker, Gloucester
Like Small, Nate Levie is still cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy, which struck in October.
“We’re repairing some docks that were destroyed,” said Levie, 27, a boat technician at Cape Ann Marine Sales and Service, located at Cape Ann Marina. “We actually have to drive all new pilings, because the pilings got broken off during the storm. We’re lining them up where they’re supposed to be, and the pile drivers are here now, so starting next week we’re going to start putting them in.”
The work takes place on the outside docks, which are the same docks where he fought off 60 mile per hour winds as he pulled boats in after the pilings broke during the hurricane.
Levie layers as effectively as he can, but he admits the cold stings his hands.
The crew may find indoor projects on the most extreme days, if there’s a safety concern, but otherwise they are outside, even on the coldest days. “If it has to get done outside, then bulk up and do what you can,” he said.
Levie grew up around boats in Gloucester, and he spent a lot of his childhood at the marina, where his father worked.
This is the slow season, with employees catching up on maintenance, boat repairs, and other projects so that things run smoothly in the summer. This time of year, the schedule is more relaxed, and while the weather can be severe, there’s a payoff when the weather gets warmer.
“There’s nothing better than when its 85 degrees and your buddies are in an office and you’re bombing around the harbor in somebody’s boat, making sure it runs right.”
Chris Garland, Bradford Ski Area
Chris Garland started working at the Bradford Ski Area at age 14, picking up trash in the lobby. Now 30, he works, “inside, outside, wherever I’m needed.”
During ski season, he estimates that nine to 10 hours of his 16-hour workday are spent outdoors. “Normally I’m in at 5:30 and hopefully out any time after 7, depending if we’re making snow,” he said.
If the crew is making snow at night, after the skiers are gone, Garland will make sure the operation is running properly and then head home to sleep, maybe at midnight, knowing that when morning comes he’ll be back to push out the piles and groom the trails. The snow-making crew numbers seven or eight, and usually there are four groomers on the hill.
He also supervises a four-person crew at the ski area’s terrain park, maintaining the rails, boxes, and jumps and making sure it’s safe.Continued...