Day 5. In high school, I got up before the sun rose to compete in crew regattas. Waking up this morning took me back to that time, when I had the privilege of experiencing the world
Ready for action!
before it succumbs to the hustle and bustle of life while feeling a silent electricity in the atmosphere knowing I’m about to unite with open nature. Today those memories stirred in my mind as I participated in the Wolf River Conservancy’s 9th Annual Tree Planting at Shelby Farms Park. It was hard to believe this is the first week of spring as the day proved extremely cold and windy, and even though the sun decided to sleep in, we lucked out with dry skies. Despite the weather, more than 200 volunteers of all ages signed up for this philanthropy, and no one was afraid to get a little dirty. Picture this: toddlers playing in giant dirt hills while elementary school-aged children enthusiastically ran potted seedlings to their designated homes.
About 7,000 trees and shrubberies were planted this morning, and my table was in charge of
John and I potting the pin oaks.
the pin oak trees. My job entailed putting a seedling in a plastic plant pot while my partner and fellow volunteer, John Huggins, covered it up with dirt just up until it hit the collar. I packed the dirt down so it would be firm when it rained, and then the tree was ready to be placed in the specified pin oak area. Collectively, we must have planted at least a hundred pin oaks. Every time our pile of seedlings thinned out and we thought we were on the brink of finishing, someone would appear with another bag of fresh seedlings to pack. I swear for each pin oak removed from the pile, five more showed up in its place – it was hilarious!
The Wolf River Conservancy had a very efficient assembly line happening. There were people on the enormous mounds of dirt who shoveled it into buckets for runners to deliver to the tables where we potted the plants. The runners also collected all of the empty dirt buckets to be filled up again. For the majority of the event, my table consisted of a family of four, John,
Volunteers working hard.
and me. We talked the entire time, and I really enjoyed working with these people. It was a bonding experience. I wore thin, pink gardening gloves I won from a trivia game, and my hands became wet and freezing because they were not protected from the moist, cool soil. John was so kind and brought me a hot cup of coffee that seemed to magically bring me back to life! In addition to coffee, the conservancy also provided water, fruit, granola bars, turkey roll ups, and chocolates, and needless to say, the volunteers were very appreciative. Keith Cole, the executive director, and Mayor Luttrell, the mayor of Shelby County, both made inspiring speeches about the Wolf River Conservancy and our big-hearted members of the community committed to preserving the river.
The mission states, “The Wolf River Conservancy is dedicated to the protection and
Shelby Farms Park was so spacious and calming.
enhancement of the Wolf River watershed as a sustainable natural resource.” When a gravel mine was going to be built along the river in 1985, volunteers prevented the mine from proceeding and thus founded the non-profit organization to further protect the river and the area’s respective wildlife. John told me he and a friend counted almost 300 deer the other night! He is a member of the conservancy and enjoys all of the benefits it offers, especially kayaking on the water. There are so many fabulous activities, programs, and ways to get involved. You can choose from various plans and an individual membership is only $35/year! To learn more about Wolf River Conservancy the programs it offers, visit www.wolfriver.org.
It was so nice to be outside connecting with nature. As soon as I arrived at Shelby Farms Park, I immediately felt a sense of calmness washing over me. I truly relish being out in the open air and I do not believe I take advantage of what this organization has to offer. I enjoyed getting in touch with my nature spirit today – it most certainly won’t be the last time! Stay tuned for Day 6!
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