The weather wasn’t really working with us during Week Eight. We had plans to get the third bench in and also host a volunteer work party with our faculty friends from Western Washington University’s Recreation Management & Leadership department and a cohort of their students. We’ll see how it goes…
To give us cover to work in the pouring rain, I brought out our Recreation Northwest canopy. The last time we used this was to keep volunteers cool during their shifts as Bike Valet’s at the first inaugural NW Tune UP last summer! Fortunately, both Chris Mellick and I enjoy working (and playing outdoors in all sorts of conditions.
If you missed the details on the process of putting our benches into place, go back to Week Seven. Here’s the third bench in place. Five more to go, once the rock stage is in place! They’ll be placed in front of the retaining wall below the first three installed. The large slabs in the background will become the “rock stage” in the amphitheater space.
Birds eye view. Well at least a bird perched on a ladder!
Framed for perfection.
Our ongoing construction site taking shape!
Work Party #2
When Western’s Recreation Management & Leadership (RML) faculty reached out to see if we needed any help with our project, we wanted to give the students an experience that they look back on with a sense of pride and ownership. There are endless weeds (aka- invasive species) to pull but I wanted them to connect with our landscape.
Our project is in a City of Bellingham park. We work in tandem with people in many of the divisions within the Bellingham Parks department. For our stewardship volunteer projects, we work with Parks Volunteer Program staff. The city allows us to use their tools for our work parties and advises us on our invasive removal and native planting activities. We’ve been doing this work since 2017, when we started our mitigation for our Wetland Trail & Boardwalk project.
For the WWU RML work party, we worked with Parks professional, Freya F., to create a planting plan for the day. We went with a combination of planting native plants from the city nursery and transplanting local ferns. On a bone-chilling Wednesday Freya shows us how to just take half of the Sword Fern root ball and add a shovel full of it’s home dirt for the move to another neighborhood – not far away.
Our Director of Programs, Elizabeth Nelson, looks over Freya’s shoulder to get the technique down. Elizabeth will be leading the RML student volunteers who will be tasked with the transplanting the following day- Thursday, February 23rd.
Plant delivery! The plant list includes 10 Low Oregon Grape, 10 Salal, 10 Salmonberry, 5 Thimbleberry, 5 Oceanspray, 5 Red Osier Dogwood, 3 Pacific Ninebark, 3 Red Flowering Currant, 3 Vine Maple. BRRRR.
No, we didn’t do the Ice Bucket Challenge, but it was cold enough to freeze this dirty trowel overnight.
A studious Elizabeth looks on as Freya packs the soil in around the edges of the fern’s root ball. After the fern is transplanted and the soil in place a berm of mulch is created to encircle the fresh plant for protection. Tomorrow, we plan to have 40 people from RML program ready to GO!! We’re confident that since these are Recreation majors they should know how to dress and can handle being outside for a couple hours. Yes, the color of Elizabeth’s nose matches her coat. Brrrr.
In addition to plant delivery, Freya also placed all the plants in their new locations to help them with their survival and creating a nice diverse neighborhood of plants. Yes, the frost on the ground should have been a sign.
In the background is the new planting area with pots in place. This photo shows off the beauty to the landscape and benches. It’s coming together.
Larger trees will be planted on the berm created below the rock stage retaining wall. It will fill in to provide a nice backdrop. Further in the distance are the fresh green compost piles/mounds of the invasive Holly that the Trailblazers helped with during Week Seven.
Benches with Adventure Rock Trail and our Garden Gate in the background.
Our piles of materials is getting smaller. Rock stage slabs tucked in the back corner. Oh yea, and a big pile of mulch on the other side of the orange safety fence for the Western volunteers cover the ground and protect the new plants with “tomorrow”…
Looky-Loos reading our Interpretive Signs.
Thursday morning- WORK PARTY with Western RML!!
Well, a picture is worth…
This is what the ground looked like the morning of the work party. It was like this the day before and we’d done the sample planting with Freya, so I thought we’d have a green light. Sure, it’d be cold, but we can do it! I spent the morning getting ready for the group to show up. As I cleaned off the benches with a bucket of water and sponge, there was a sheen of ice that would immediately appear. This should have been a sign. I continued setting up the tools, our table with sign-in sheets and other accoutrements to give the students a memorable experience. And get some work done!!
Everything was in place and I was ready for their arrival. I had 15 minutes to spare, so I thought I’d get a sample plant ready to go out of one of the pots. I dug my hole the appropriate “frying pan” circumference and the surface wasn’t too crusty. Next, I went to grab a tree to plant. As I tried to massage the root ball inside of the plastic pot, all I felt was resistance. The whole thing was frozen. Oh deer! I checked another. Same deal.
Well. This will be a lesson in the ability to adjust and go with an alternative plan for the experience.
We (RML faculty and I) decided that it would be just fine to do a quick tour of our project, stop for a photo, and they could be on their way- to find warm shelter!! It was nice to see their smiling faces in our Outdoor Classroom. I applaud them for showing up and being willing to make it happen!!
This week served as a reminder to look to Mother Earth for direction and to know it’s okay to wait for the right moments.
Hurry up and wait. We’ll see what we can get done during Week Nine.
Todd Elsworth is one of the many “Mossy-haired lunatics roaming the dripping peninsulas”, described in “I’m Here for the Weather” by Tom Robbins. As executive director, he works to fulfill our mission to teach the health benefits of nature, promote outdoor recreation, and steward the places where we play.