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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Back At It

These grand trees need more friends.

The last month has been challenging for getting out and about. The short dark days make you want to make the most of the weekend. But come the weekend there have been far too many dicey weather changes that can bring me up short. All in all it felt more like hibernation than a time to celebrate the season.

Roaring winds after Thanksgiving put the choice to go up to Port Townsend and Sequim right on the back burner. Pictures on Flickr in the Washington Bird forum tell me I should have headed south to the Greater Vancouver area. While we were socked in and broody with howling winds and gloom, they had clear blue skies. The winds, set up the ice locker effect and days of frozen roads and sub-freezing chill I was not quite prepared for. I did learn a lot from Dr Mass and his weather blog.

(Please note the effective use of my new toy, a camera that fits in my purse and goes everywhere. )

Then there was girls weekend which is delightful. There is not a lot of natural wonder and wildlife in the core of downtown Seattle, unless you count Fox's Gem Shop windows and their famous collection of teddy bears.

I did see a interesting flock of Christmas effluvia running in the streets of downtown during the annual Jingle Bell Run. I think the flock of runners dressed as penguins was pretty good. People plan all year for this event. I think if I was inclined to run, I would dress as a coal sack.
The gingerbread houses were particularly good this year with a theme of Christmas in the Movies.

Yesterday, I was back out there, happily at another work party with the Nisqually Land Trust.

The weather has shifted and now all is rain. Last weekend was the original planting weekend and the ground was frozen solid. Saturday the ground was like soft butter which raised its own challenges.

The Wilcox Flats parcel is along the river adjacent to the Wilcox Farm complex. Most locals have seen the Wilcox eggs and milk in the stores and the farm is tucked away in a quiet small valley just back from the river east of Yelm.

The rain was pretty steady driving down but once it was daylight, it seems to just sprinkle now and then. The sudden quiet mood at daybreak allowed me to see and capture this interesting braided fog over a pasture.

The Wilcox parcel was originally destined to be 40+ housing plats. Some construction had started but the river showed, with a flood, that this was not a wise place to settle. The houses started, were destroyed and debris from places up river is still on the property. Ongoing work focuses on clearing the debris and replanting felled trees.

We worked at planting small Red Ceder, Western Hemlock and Sitka Spruce trees. The spruce trees were my favorites. They have a pungent sharp odor and resembled Charlie Brown Christmas trees. It was challenging work. The ground showed no ill effects of being frozen last week. It was as soft as can be and in some places, too soft. The soil would cling to shovel and shoes in big globs. Since we were working inside an area with tall trees and mixed shrubs there was plenty of water all around. Vines grabbed and tangled and it was soggy work. It was not long before the wet clothes mixed with the mucky soil. I have not been this dirty in a long time. I think I received enough clunks to the head to keep my brain well seated for a while. I kept forgetting that there were many low limbs. I smacked into and came up under plenty of noggin knockers.

Isolated parties made quick work of planting. I was only able to stay three hours but, as always, feel the drive and time spent working was well worth the effort. I enjoy driving as I can listen to the radio. I particularly enjoy NPR on the weekend.

Yesterday my drive home was just in time to hear "KUOW Presents". These stories and interviews focus on topics of the region. One particular timely guest was Nalini Nadkarni, President of the International Canopy Network and a professor at the Evergreen State College. She told the story of growing up in crossed cultures back east and the impact of the Holiday season. She focused on the presence and symbol of the tree. In recent years she has worked at ways of bringing the conservation story to more people. Part of that work is outreach as different religious services as a guest speaker. She tells of looking for and discovering the presence of trees and forest in the holy books of the different major religions.

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did. She tells a wonderful and fascinating story. I would like to hear her speak.
Stay safe and warm.

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