We spent a wonderful day recently tending our trails and properties with a small but mighty crew of volunteers who enjoy physical work. There’s something deeply gratifying about work that results in a more welcoming trail, a more beautiful roadside view, or a healthier natural community.
In the morning, equipped with come-a-longs, grass whips, hand saws, and loppers, we made the Cathance River Nature Preserve more welcoming to people (and in some cases, less appealing to ticks!). Working in small groups, we mowed grassy sections of trail, removed potentially dangerous leaning trees, made signs more visible, removed tripping hazards from trails, and installed new signage. Trails require constant attention! Plants are attracted to empty spaces filled with light (a.k.a. trails), so keeping signs and blazes visible is a never-ending task. And, there is a slow but steady rain of trees and branches in the forest creating obstacles for our hikers.
In the afternoon, equipped with pickaxes and (again) the mighty come-a-long, a (mostly) different crew wrestled invasive shrubs along Crystal Spring Farm’s road frontage – to preserve the view and remove these unwanted invaders. It was inspiring to see people working so hard for the benefit of the community. Seth Kroeck, our tenant farmer, drove by to offer encouragement and the use of his flatbed truck to haul brush to the brush pile. This saved time and energy so we were able to get even more done. Thanks, Seth!
Land stewardship is not unlike the work of caring for a much loved family member or friend. On the surface, it appears that the benefit is all to the dependent. But tending to a person, or in this case, a community resource, can be deeply satisfying to the caregiver. Maintaining landscapes and walking trails that enrich people’s lives every day is enriching in itself. And, new friends were made and all left with that tired but happy feeling that comes from an extremely productive day. A heartfelt thanks to all the volunteer ‘caretakers’ who really exerted themselves to keep our communities’ special places special!