Last Saturday there was a volunteer “work party” at the refuge to plant a bunch of new shrubs, vines and little trees that eventually will produce food for the animals there. In the habitat restoration business you have to think long-term. They’ve got oak trees planted ten years ago that won’t amount to much for a couple of human generations. Even then, they’ll not be as impressive as the few 250 to 300-year-old oaks that are on the land.
About 20 people turned out including me, reluctantly. I had a hard time getting going on Saturday morning, They call it a work party with, as it turned out, more emphasis on the “work” than on the party. Planting required clearing patches in the heavy turf of native grasses before digging a generous hole in wet, heavy clay to put the plant in. Then came packing in the right amount of dirt. Finally we rolled protective plastic sleeves around the young plants and secured them with bamboo stakes–not so easy to do with clumsy, mud-caked gloves on.
The crew dwindled a little during the three-hour effort. It was just too much for some well-intended volunteers. However, at the end we counted over 130 empty plant containers.
As I drove away from the refuge weary and muddy, in the back of my mind I wondered, “Was it worth it?” Then, I looked up and saw V-formations of geese crisscrossing the sky, and to the west a sudden dense cloud of hundreds of ducks took to the air. Yep, it was worth it.