Andy Plourde lived on a platform in a tree for 30 days as part of an ongoing protest against the Red Hill Valley Expressway outside Hamilton. What follows is her diary.
Saturday, May 29
Here I write in a book my sister gave me. She didn't even know I planned to do this. There was a time we knew everything about each other. I awoke to men with orange hard hats marking trees. There's much going on in this forest. Always a bird singing. It'll be hard for my mom to see me. I hope Dad makes the effort. My heart will break if I see my dog. May the goddess protect him and may he be there when I get down. Superman (Anton) gave me a hug before going up. I hope his mother sees how great he is.
I can handle the sway of my platform. Last night I was scared when it would tip to one side. My platform moved just now, and I felt my heart skip. So I think I'm only fine when I'm not moving. I love Red Hill Valley.
Tuesday, June 1
It rained all day. My platform has lowered at the far end. This and the ropes being so wet worry me. I'm hoping for sun tomorrow so all our things can dry. Both Clarence's and Anton's tarps are too small to protect them.
Sunday, June 6
This morning I awoke because my things were slipping off the platform. Anton speaks to one of the guards often. He seems to be the only one who cares about our well-being.
Friday, June 11
I'm going to be sad having to come down from here. I hate to leave Clarence, but I promised my best friend, Eric, that I'd be at his wedding. I'm part of the wedding party.
I can see lights from within the forest. I kept telling Jug to turn off the lights because the guards will see him. I didn't realize until they came into the clearing that they were holding sparklers. They all began to sing Happy Birthday to me in French.
Saturday, June 12
I heard someone, Kevin or Mom, yell to "Drop rope!" I dropped my rope, looked over and saw Amy being arrested. My eyes started to water. They yelled at me to "Pull up," but the crate filled with food was too heavy for me. There was no way I could get it onto my platform. I looked over to see the others yelling at the head security guard, who was holding the rope others were trying to get a hold of to lift food to Clarence. Everyone cheered when Clarence finally started receiving food.
I got the chills, so the sun is most appreciated. Plus, there's no wind. Yesterday was another windy day. No fun. Amy and Antoine came to play music. Buddy Holly and some Johnny Cash.
Sunday, June 13
Two security guards are standing halfway up the hill, waiting. They are making me nervous. I hope no one gets hurt or arrested at the big rally today. My body hurts.
Monday, June 14
I woke to rain last night. Half asleep, I had to close the tarp and plug any holes. Even though the wind was violent, I lay back down and quickly fell asleep. Nothing appears to have gotten wet. This is a first.
A gold metallic beetle just landed on my shoulder. He lets me pet him. I also saw a very small grasshopper. He let me touch his leg. He stopped when he was at my eye level and seemed to check me out before he continued his climb.
Wednesday, June 16
Construction workers were around this morning, taking a look at Clarence and me. They seemed to be talking about how much they can do around us and how to get us down. Clarence is worried that no one will come to see him once I am gone.
Thursday, June 17
More construction workers came back yesterday. One of them went up a tree with spiked boots to chop one of the other platforms (the third tree-sitter left) down with an axe instead of untying things and lowering the platform. It was brutal. I'm worried how mine will be taken down.
Friday, June 18
Clarence and I awoke to large machinery just behind us. They've been going non-stop since 7 am. They sound like tanks. They're getting the ground ready to build the road, trying to hide our memories of the sacred green space that used to be there. The trees are helpless. I wonder if any of the workers think that what they are doing is fucked. It's been said that blasting will commence this week.
Sunday, June 20
Today is my dog Fido's birthday. She's 17 years old. Mom might show up after church.
Tuesday, June 22
Didn't sleep well last night. Had some silence this morning when the generators were turned off, but then the trucks came. Last night the constant noise was getting to Clarence and me. Don't know how we're going to handle another day. This morning I was feeling short-tempered. So I've done my physio and had a warm chocolate milk and now I am writing. These are my morning rituals.
One of the zookeepers (aka security guards) is digging a staircase into the side of the hill. This he's doing while listening to Clarence's radio. I'm leaving in less than a week. I haven't the heart to tell Clarence yet. I wonder if he still thinks we can stop the highway while we watch it being built.
Saturday, June 25
Two guards are watching Clarence. He's climbing to the top of his tree again. It's now our battle plan. The guard videotaped the bottom of our trees for half an hour. It's getting windy. The police were here all day. Perhaps they think I'm coming down. It feels good to be up here. Clarence isn't upset at me for leaving. He sounds all right being alone. He's happy that I was here with him up to this point. So am I.
Sunday, June 26
The stupid zookeeper and the one O'Grady calls Silent Bob are tying down branches so the light will shine on us even more. Today has been horrid. Everything we drop is videotaped. I feel bad leaving Clarence with these guards who try their hardest to upset us. The two of them just stood there laughing at Clarence because they'd made him angry. It looks like the two of us need to toughen up.
Monday, June 27
Yesterday was the most messed-up day. It was an emotional roller coaster. We need people here more often. Even though the machines are behind us belching black smoke, we're calm. Last night the zookeeper who bothers me the most stayed all night instead of going home when his shift was done. We could hear him and the others all night. These are some of the things I could hear the guards say to each other (with much more swearing).
"See, this is what I did with some of the fucking branches. / Why don't we just cut them. All this shit is going to die anyways. Well, she'll be leaving soon. Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye! /Use a fucking cherry-picker. Ya, I'll do it at 3 or 4 in the fucking morning. / Fucking tree-huggers. She'll go to jail -that's what happens when you go up against society. Fucking tree-huggers."
Earlier. I passed many of my things to Clarence. A little later, a woman with a camera just happened to be allowed in to see us. Clarence asked her who she was. She said she admired what we were doing. Clarence said no one else was allowed to enter, so why her? She answered that maybe it was because she was cute. She asked Clarence what he was up to. He told her that we were rearranging. I realized she was one of the female police officers from last Saturday. Why lie?
Tuesday, June 28
My boyfriend Joel's here. He's been sitting across the road with Fido since 2 am. Dad and my sister Emiline did stop by last night. In French they told me I was to be replaced. I keep feeling nervous because I haven't a clue as to how they plan to pull it off. Clarence didn't look as happy as I thought he would. The wind makes me hide in my sleeping bag while the chipmunks hide in their earth homes. I feel like this has been my home. This branch that I lean on has made me feel so safe. I remember holding it crying during the first storm. I feel so different since the first week.
Wednesday, June 29
Clarence told me yesterday that he'll miss me. I hate that I'll be too busy to come back right away. This morning's blast sounded much closer. I stood on my platform looking around. I truly believe that this land heals, which makes it hard to understand how these workers can do nothing but destroy. I won't miss looking up to see a guard watching me with binoculars. Clarence is still in the trees.