I climb trees and measure them. Some trees are higher than others. Everybody has a job. My job is to rank every tree I climb by height. It’s a tough job because I have to name each tree. I tried numbering each tree, but that just made things confusing on account of the ranking part.
For example, tree #1 might not be ranked #1, it might be ranked #17, and #17 might not be ranked #17, it might be ranked #1. All those numbers just made things difficult. Too many numbers on my Google Sheet. So I name the trees now. Human names.
I don’t like naming the trees with names of people that I know in real life. Every time I name a tree, I have to give it a name that is different than the name of any person I’ve ever met. I’ve met heaps of people, maybe not more than average, but still, heaps. It can be hard to think of a name for a tree that’s different than the name of somebody I’ve met.
So I have to find obscure names that I didn’t know existed. Names like Oleg or Oona. That’s why I’m always carrying around these Baby Name Books. I have to find names that aren’t shared with somebody I’ve met, and I have to find names that I haven’t already used for another tree. Each tree has to have a different name, or else the whole system would fall apart.
I don’t get why they’re called Baby Name Books, and not just because I use them to name trees and not babies. I know most people use Baby Name Books to name babies. My problem with the name of the books is that people don’t stay babies for very long, and the majority of people keep the names given to them as babies well into adulthood and often for their whole lives.
So Baby Name Books should be called just Name Books. But I don’t want to make a big deal about that. I don’t want to sound bitter or ungrateful to the people making these books. They’ve helped me out a great deal with my naming of trees. They’re doing a great job making these books and I don’t want it to seem like I’m implying otherwise. (Ironic that the books I’m using to give name to trees are actually made out of trees — but that’s another story.)
I bet you’re wondering what happens when I’ve already named a tree and then I later meet somebody with the same name. Do I politely explain the situation to that person and then ask them to change their name? No (but wouldn’t that be funny?) No, it wouldn’t be funny because I’d just met that person after all. Imagine meeting somebody and then they tell you that you have to change your name.
Ridiculous. So instead I just change the name of tree to another name of a person that I’ve never met. This can make it harder for me to remember a tree though, after I’ve already got to know it by one name. So on the Google Sheet I keep the old name, but place it in parenthesis after the new name.
It looks like this:
Mikah (Llewelyn) Jack Pine 4 metres
Elspeth (Samara) Sycamore 18 metres
So that’s another difficulty of the job, but nobody ever said that the job had to be perfectly easy, and besides a good challenge is healthy for the mind and the soul. I’m very pleased to have this job. As I said, everybody has a job, and some jobs are pretty weird, but mine is nice, sometimes it has difficulties, sure, like everything, but it pays the bills and I get to be outside most of the time. And I love being outside.
Jordan Moffatt is a writer and improviser living in Ottawa. His writing has appeared in many places online and in print, most recently or forthcoming in Bad Nudes, Matrix Magazine, tenderness yea, and This Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @jordanmoffatt and heck out his website: http://jordanmoffatt.website.