Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

22 July 2012

More Cherry-Drying Antics

Whoa, it’s been fun! It had rained most of the day on Friday, and we didn’t get started drying until late. Thus, we’d all flown right to sunset…and I mean it was dark-DARK out by the time I got back to our LZ. By the time we got the birds tied down, fueled and oiled it was after eleven.  Not having had supper, Taylor and I grabbed a quick bite. We got to bed around midnight, thinking that the cherries were dry and the skies were clearing and there’s no way we’d be flying in the morning. Oh yeah? Saturday morning our farm manager woke me up out of a sound sleep at 6:00 a.m.  They were still wet. Heavy dew or something. Whatever.

It was an odd day.  Looking north, it was all cloudy and foggy in the tops of the hills. Looking south it was "clear-blue-and 22," just glorious. I was struck by the incongruity of it...how the kind of day you were having depended on which way you were going in the orchard...and mentioned it on the radio. (All of us in the company monitor a “discrete” frequency so we can talk to each other in semi-private.) Danny, who was drying nearby for another customer chimed in, “Well, I guess the day is either half-cloudy or half-sunny…your choice.” To which I replied, “Well I’m a day-half-sunny kind of guy!” {Rimshot} Oh, I crack myself up. Which caused me to spew a whole series of one-liners about cherry-drying, exactly none of which got so much as an “LOL” from any of the other pilots.   Not even the "double-mic-click" acknowledgment which is a pilot's way of wordlessly saying, "Okay, I get it, now shut up."

Oh, I’m DRYING these cherries all right! I’m hovering so low that I’m reaching out and shaking the tops of the trees by hand! (See, smaller helicopters have to hover with their skids down in the trees; we don’t hover that low in the…oh nevermind, you had to be there.)

Ah well… Finally I keyed the mic and in my best Rodney Dangerfield voice I said, “I gotta tell ya, tough room!” Meh- I guess they were all pretty spaced from being up so late the night before. But I was psyched and having fun.

The fields we dry up here are all “netted.” That is, the orchard owner covers the entire tract with a huge net to keep the birds out. See here.

Here's a screen-grab from my GoPro camera. (Click on it to make it bigger.) That's me drying one our netted tracts. See how the netting is broken up by those big parallel seams? Read on...

Netting makes my job easier. Here’s why. As we dry, we fly down the “lane” between two rows of trees. At the end of the tract, we make a turn, move over four rows and come back the other way. Counting four rows might not seem hard, and it’s not really, but sometimes it’s easy to turn into the third or fifth lane especially if I’m turning to the left. I sit on the right and it’s hard to see out to the left.

With the nets. I simply count over four rows and say to myself, “First row beyond the seam.” And me being me, of course I start singing that old Bobby Darin tune, “Beyond The Sea” which goes:

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships
That go sailing

Only my version goes:

First row, beyond the seam
The cherries waiting for me
They got so wet under the net
How happy we’ll be
When we’re drying

But I get tired of singing that song over and over, so I switch to another oldie, this one from a couple of guys called Brewer and Shipley who had a hit in 1971 with a catchy little ditty called, “One Toke Over The Line.”

One toke over the line, sweet Jesus
One toke over the line
Sitting downtown in a railway station
One toke over the line

(No, I have no earthly idea how that song got played on Top-40 radio in 1971, but it did.)

My version goes:

One row over the line, sweet cherries
One row over the line
Flying down the rows in the cherry orchard
One row over the line

I’ll spare you the other lame-ass songs I came up with to pass the time.

Word came over the radio that we were having a barbecue at the airport in the afternoon. So after I got done drying I rolled the Sportster out and rode it the twenty or so miles down. The company gave me a pickup truck to drive this year...and...I have to admit I haven't been riding as much as I'd like.  But man, I’ll tell you, I love that bike! I think I love riding motorcycles almost as much as I love flying – and that’s saying something. We all hung out, ate some great steaks, and talked flying and motorcycles for the whole afternoon.  We laughed and made a ton of jokes (many at my expense, which I do not mind). Such good fellowship. Such good people I work with! It was one of the best days I’ve had since coming up here this season, and that’s saying something!

I love my life :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,

Any chance of us seeing some of the video?


Bob Barbanes: said...

Matter of fact, I'm working on a cherry-drying video, set to music of course, which I'll eventually put up on the Tube of You. So the answer is "yes." I just don't know when ;)

Debby said...

Somewhere, ooooooooooover the netting way up high...

The vision of you happily singing to yourself made my day!

Bob Barbanes: said...

I should probably be ashamed to admit this - karaoke videos being what they are - but I do like to sing. I'm always singing, humming or whistling some tune. I've probably been conditioned by movies to have a soundtrack to my life. And you're right..."happily" singing. For how can you *not* be happy if you have a song in your heart?

But sorry, I've got to draw the line somewhere, and "Somewhere, Over The Rainbow" is just a little too gay, even for me ;)