A Refreshing Walk

A couple of days ago I took a walk on the “new” side of the Pennypack Trail, going from the parking lot on Welsh Road north. My goal was to walk 5 miles (out 2.5 miles and return trip) as part of meeting a ten-mile walk goal. I used to do this route in one day but I haven’t walked so far in one go for a couple of years, and so I planned it for two days, this being the first half.

Anyway, I headed out on a hot afternoon. It was a nice walk all right, and the trail was pleasantly busy with people always in sight, but never close enough to intrude. Here are two events from the walk.

Beaver pond

On the way out, I walked up the rail trail, but on the way back I crossed a bridge over the Pennypack Creek to take me to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust lands on the other side. There is another trail there that parallels the creek; it’s much rougher and more secluded, making a nice change. And…I wanted to see how things looked at the beaver pond.

I turned off the main trail and headed up this one:

The pond is right there on the corner.

The pond was created by a family of beavers who were here a few years ago; there was a spring there but it was the beavers who set up the circumstances to fill up this swampy area and turn it into what you see now. Last fall, the hurricane that caused so much damage in our area severely affected the pond environs and washed out the trail. Things are now repaired and access to the pond restored for trail-goers.

I am not sure if there are any beavers still living here at the moment. They had moved on before the storm. Maybe we’ll get a new family?

I had stopped by here some months ago. Here is the same view slightly skewed to the right (you can see the edge of the sign in the left side of the picture). It’s quite a change from March!. Take a look:

After resting for a bit, I headed back down the trail and crossed back the bridge back to the rail trail.

Bryn Athyn Post Office

This post office is in the former Bryn Athyn train station on the rail trail, from when it was an active line. As I was walking by on the outbound trip, I saw this sign at the former platform area facing the trail:

I thought this was really nice of them to do. On my way back I stopped in and said thank you to the two women working there. Because I felt they needed to know it was appreciated. I went on my way thinking that yes, no matter what a mess the world might be in, there are still people doing good things everywhere we go. It cheered me up.

Well, that is the story of that little journey. It was nice to be out in the good weather and to revisit familiar places that I enjoy.

Art Drop-off 3/23/22

On a chilly but sunny morning, I headed up the Pennypack Rail Trail for a walk. I had an artwork to leave somewhere along the way, too.

When I came to the first bridge (there are 2) that crosses the Pennypack Creek to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (PERT) on the other side, I realized I was very near the beaver pond. I haven’t been there in months – and for good reason – the area was very affected by the floods last fall from Hurricane Ida and has been off limits.

Now it looks like it is open, so I crossed and took a look.

The landscape is quite changed – the area around the pond is bare and clear now. Here is how it looked a couple of years ago:

Here it is now.

Yes, I know it is a different season, but still, it’s quite dramatic, I think. The area was completely flooded and wiped clean. Quite a bit of cleanup has been done to get to this point. Here is a shot from the same location, then and now, to give a comparison. (Though the sign is new – I guess the old one washed away, too.)

I left a painting on one of the (new) benches. You may remember the pond is at at crossroads of trails, and I chose a place along the trail heading back away from the creek into the hills.

I decided to walk along the creekside trail up to the next bridge and cross back over. It’s been rehabbed with new gravel. This is an improvement – the old road/trail was very rough with broken up pavement and washouts and drifts of gravel. You can see they are also replacing what remains of the fence.

I couldn’t go very far, though – the trail closed again where it passed through a short paved residential area. I guess the trail up ahead must still be undergoing repairs.

Well, that’s all right, I just turned around and went back over the same way I came. I’ll have to keep an eye on the place as time goes on and see how things progress.

Reforesters Update 7/4/21

This morning my husband and I took a trip over to the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (PERT) to count our trees, do some upkeep, and maybe clear away some more invasives. I am a little behind on my report, since I haven’t been here since mid-June. Recovering from my shingles vaccine took a week and last week was either very hot or else thunderstorms, so I didn’t come over here.

Well, we are here now. It’s very green and lush these days here in the preserve.

We decided to count the trees first. I think this session we finally have found all our trees and cleared them. The count is 35 trees alive, 3 dead, and 2 vounteers we also are caring for.

We did some clearing. Those vines I mentioned in the last post, the ones with very weak stems and small heart-shaped leaves, are everywhere now. If they had any heft to them we’d be unable to fight our way into the plot. As it is, they have their own weapon – they are very sticky, meaning sticky like velcro, not sticky like popsicle juice, and if they touch your skin, it hurts to pull them away.

Ugh. Luckily, gloves and our usual array of cover-up clothes does the job. I pulled some vines away from this little tree. Ick, they arise in a mass and seem to stick to each other too, in order to get where they would like to go. I still don’t know their name – I need to look it up.

But today, I have a really exciting story to tell. Do you remember back at the end of May, I uncovered a dead tree still standing in its cage, buried under a huge mound of vines, weeds, and wild rosebushes? (Look here for that post if you don’t). I tagged it pink and left it. It then appears in several subsequent posts, a forlorn remnant, as I continued to clear brush.

Today I checked it, out of curiosity more than anything. I noticed some leaves that looked very much like oak leaves at the bottom of the cage.

Here it was this morning:

And those leaves…hmmm… I thought maybe a little volunteer oak was coming up, though I didn’t see any parent oakds nearby.

I found the former trunk of the tree and snapped the top off easily. Dead, yes. but I still wasn’t satisfied. I removed the whole cage and cleaned around the leaves. I found that they were growing out of the very bottom of the trunk. The tree was not dead!

Digging a little further, I found the nursery tag from the tree:

I was right, it is an oak tree. I carefully cleaned around it. I will be paying special attention to this little guy. It has survived years of living under a thicket. It’s strong. I will help it grow.

Well, that is it for today. Until next time.

Reforesters Update 6/17/21

Today I visited our tree plot at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (PERT) to check on the trees and do some clearing. It was a lovely sunny morning, cool and with little humidity and a light breeze. Perfect for being outside with the trees.

I appreciate everyone’s patience with the continual stream of pictures of green trees and green weeds and green tangle. I use these posts to help me remember my experiences in order to write up my monthly report. It can get repetitive to see what looks like the same scene over and over. I wish you could come along with me to the plot and explore the whole area. There are many little landscapes within this big green one.

I thought that today I would focus on some details I noticed as I worked. I covered the ground in a wandering kind of way and did a variety of tasks – clearing trees of vines and debris, cutting away more invasisve plants from the area I have been working on, and clearing vines from some larger trees at the bottom of the hill that I have not visited much.

OK, let’s go. In no particular order.

Here is a close-up of that velcro-like vine with heart-shaped leaves as it begins its journey up a spicebush.

It looks innocuous enough, and it is a very weak plant – you can tear it away with your hands. I don’t think it enacts long-lasting harm on the trees. But I think it can cause difficulties in growth when it gangs up in a mass, and it adds to the weight on a plant when it combines with other vines as you see here:

Ugh, and it is really unpleasant when you touch it with your bare skin – it’s like sandpaper.

Here is a tiny tree inside its cage, besieged by vines and plant growth. If the tree is this small, I lift the cage away from it and clear out the whole area, then drop the cage back on it and re-stake it.

I have mentioned the strangling effect of the honeysuckle vine. Unlike the other vines I have observed, it has a tough fibrous quality that resists being broken or snapped, and it can grow to be huge – finger-sized. It twists around branches and trunks as you see in the first photo – I’m showing you sections left after I clipped the vine.

Sometimes the vine has embedded itself into the tree so that I can’t remove it, just clip it. The tree continues to grow but it is marred by the experience. The second photo shows a spicebush (I think) that has endured this situation. At some point the vine ceased to grow or was removed, but the scars remain and the later growth reflects the results.

I see instances of the damage the honeysuckle does all over the plot. In addition to wrapping trees it grows up into the crown, weighs the tree down, and eventually starves out the leaves, if left in place. It also provides a nice platform for quicker-growing and lighter vines to leap on to.

I have changed my opinion about how nice a honeysuckle vine is since I have been working here.


Moving on. Lots of wild raspberries coming out now. I am of course dedicated to removing them but I have a more lenient feeling about them than other plants here. Their fruits are useful. A lot of people around here pick them when they are ripe – I’ve seen people with baskets of them.

Here you see a tall tree in its cage., looking spindly and bent. This tree had vines growing up into its crown as I described above, when we first saw it. Now it is clean and maybe it will have a chance to gain strength and even out its growth.

This tree was in the middle of a clearing and growing pretty well, but needed more sunlight. We have cut back some of the surrounding spicebush and given it a little more room, but it was already pretty strong. Nice to see it doing well.

I spent some time today clearing around the base of these larger trees. I’ll need to continue the job, but I did clear a number of invasives from the base area and I pulled a lot of vines from the foliage. If I can’t pull the vines (in the case of the larger older ones or ones that are way up in a tall tree) I cut the vines, so that they will die up in the tree. Here you can see cut vines hanging in mid-air.

Here are trees I did not attempt to approach. Why, you may say? Well, those vines are poison ivy. Remember, leaves of three, let them be, and hairy is scary (meaning the vines are, well, hairy looking). Shout-out to my friend Diane for that latter hint – I’ve found it useful. Anyway, in our PERT orientation, we were told that the poison ivy vines do not stress the trees as the other vines do – they don’t travel tree to tree or leap branch to branch and create a mass and destroy foliage. My observation is that they stick to the large branches and they are very light.

In fact, blowing in the breeze as they were today, it was an attractive sight. But…don’t be fooled. They are lethal, if you ask me – I’m very allergic and let me tell you, the itching the oil produces is fierce and goes on for weeks.

I let these be.

Finally, here is a shot of the plot looking up the hill. From here it is easy to understand the layout – there is a cleared area all the way up under the power lines and extending back until it hits the line of trees/bushes, the area we have been clearing.

Until next time.

Reforesters Update 6/10/21

I was feeling restless today, so I thought I’d go over and take in a session with my trees at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust. It was a beautiful day, sunny, and not too hot. I arrived at PERT around 12:30.

On the way over I was thinking about today’s date, reminded by checking it to be ready to prepare my notes for the session. I graduated from high school on this day, 45 years ago. My goodness, what a long time ago that was, and how much has happened since then.

And then I arrived at PERT and focused on today.

First I decided to check on the trees. Now, this is harder than it sounds right now. With the rain and the sun, there is a lot of growth of all kinds of plants, and many of the trees are small. Weeds can grow as tall as they are. To compound the problem, since this area has been neglected for a long time, there is no pattern as to where the trees are, Whatever plan there was is obliterated by time and various events. So I kind of wander around and work my way in and out of the various clearings and areas in our plot.

Most trees were looking pretty good. I notice that this vine, don’t know what it is, but it is taking off right now all over the plot. It’s very flimsy; I can tear it away from the trees with my hands, but it has a sticky quality like Velcro that seems to help it grow in these masses that follow one little tendril. Anyway, it’s on every cage/tree right now. I don’t think it’s a bgi threat, but it seems to grow quickly and in the picture below several tentacles were pulling the tree limb down.

After checking the trees (I found one that we’d marked back when we started working here but the overgrowth had hidden it from us – oops. I apologized to the tree for forgetting it and cleared it posthaste of honeysuckle and gave it a more open area around it) I decided to return to the area we’ve been clearing in the middle of the plot.

I want to work to the left of the brown area today, right behind my blue tool bag.

Before I started, take a look – the brown area represents the dead cuttings from the last session.

All right. I got to work. My technique is to grab a handful of the invasives and clip, prioritizing those at eye level. (Because it is easy to walk right into a branch or rosebush cane when you are focused on something else. I have my goggles to protect my eyes but I have gotten some scratches on my face…ouch.)

I pull at the same time I clip and when I’ve gotten all the stems the tension is released and the handful comes loose. I throw it behind me.

I repeat this again and again. Eventually the interior of the clump is exposed and I can go into it, and clip the vines/rosebuseh canes/wineberry stems closer to the ground. I don’t try to pull them out – usually things are too tangled up top. Instead, I return to the outside and go back to my clipping and pulling. The difference is that now I often can pull out bigger pieces as the clump begins to clear and there is nothing holding the invasives to the ground now.

It is very surprising to me when I finish this process and find a straggly bush (usually a spicebush, they are everywhere in this plot) that was somehow surviving and holding up all these vines and other plants.

I end up with a big pile of clippings. I leave them on the ground and stomp on them. They will break down very quickly and in a few days look like those brown areas in the earlier photos.

Here’s where things ended up. It is hard to see in this photo, but in the middle, well, that is where the clump was. Now there is sunlight on the ground there.

I also found another dead tree in this thicket. I saw something shiny by my foot and leaped back, not knowing what it was. Then I realized I saw wire mesh. And a wooden stake. The cage had been smashed flat and buried. The tree was long gone, no sign of it.

I stood it up and attached a pink flag to show it had existed. It seemed the least I could do.

After a couple of hours I decided to stop work. I went down to the bottom of the hill to check on a couple more trees and took this photo.

To me this is a place of peace.

Reforesters Update 6/5/21

Well, the rain falls and the sun shines, and the green plants grow. Of all kinds. This morning, about 7 AM, my husband and I arrived at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (PERT) for another session of tree care.

We’ve had torrential rains three of the last four days, I guess, and that and other things have kept me from visiting in the last week. But with sunny skies and a very warm day promised, it seemed like a good time to do some work here.

We arrived early, as I said, in order to beat the heat. I was suited up in my usual attire:

By the time we’re finished these clothes will be filthy and wet from the residual dampness from all the rain. But they do the job. Here’s what I have on:

  • shorts and tank top under a long-sleeved T shirt and scrub pants (I particularly love the pants. They are lightweight and have a number of useful pockets). I dress in these layers so that before I go home I can take off the top layers and do a quick cleanup in the bathroom.
  • white socks (supposedly they will help me see if any ticks are starting their journey up my body) tucked over my pant legs, and my heavy work boots.
  • a head covering (a gaiter, really) over my hair and my hat
  • goggles over my glasses. I have learned from experience that in these surroundings you must protect your eyes.
  • belt pack – the phone is securely zipped inside in and the ringer turned on in case I lose it. I carry it because we sometimes need to consult the PERT app’s GPS to make sure we are within our plot boundaries. I think we can also mark trees via GPS but I haven’t caught on to that yet – soon!

OK! Let’s go!

Here is a view down the hill. You can orient yourself by understanding that the trail is on the right of the electric pole. I am standing inside our plot looking straight down the hill.

We walked down to the other end, at the bottom of the hill. Here is a view uphill – the trail is now on the left. You see our blue tool bag – it’s located about the middle; and that is my husband heading into the undergrowth.

Today we decided to get right to work on clearing invasisves. The trees were in good shape a week ago and don’t need attention right now. We have made good progress through our own efforts and with the help of the PERT’s mechanical clearing some weeks back. This view shows how far back these efforts have pushed the undergrowth – when we started, it was within 10 feet or so of the trail.

Here is the area where I worked last week. The debris is dying/dead and turning brown. I spent a little time stomping around on it to settle thing for easier walking. You may notice that there is a tree trunk on the ground there. Last week, it was hidden under the growth.

This photo shows last week’s work to the right and to the left, a portion of what I want to work on this week. See that little pink tag to the right? It marks the dead tree we uncovered at the end of last week’s session.

You know, when you go into a big green mound like this, you have no idea what you might find. I used my technique of clipping stems and vines that were on the outside of the mound, taking a little at a time. Eventually this process leads to being able to get inside the growth and start taking out things from the ground level…but first you have to get there.

I found that this clump was full of wild roses, some wineberries, and a lot of honeysuckle and porcelain berry vines. I found honeysuckle vines as big around as two-three fingers. That means they have been in place a very long time.

Well, after a while, the answer as to what was inside this mess emerged. See those bare branches? That is a dead spicebush. It had served as a support for all the other plants.

Here is the same picture but closer. Note the pink-tagged dead tree to the right. Yes, it is the same one I mentioned earlier. I did a lot of clearing today all right.

The spicebush, it should be cut down, it’s dead. I will mention this to Maria Paula at PERT one day. I did find that there is another spicebush right behind it, but alive. Next week I will work to free it as I clear more in this area.

My husband worked a section to the left of mine. Here is his work.

I later cleared that small bushy area to the right while he was re-staking a tree. Just a couple of skinny rose canes and some honeysuckle.

Now we’ve got a nice big swath cleared. We will continue to work in this area, heading to the back of our plot. I think things will get easier there because there is more shade and not as much invasive growth.

Well, that is is for today. Thanks for coming along.

Reforesters Update – 5/31/21

Here’s another chapter in the West Power Line Corridor tree saga, starring me and my husband. We arrived at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust about 8 AM today, ready to work. After two days of cold and rain, the weather had broken and the day promised to get sunny and warm. We thought it would be a good time to visit our trees and do some more work.

Here’s a view from the top of our plot. As you can see, there is a lot of green, but it’s not bad green. In this area here, we’ve gotten the invasives pretty much under control – not too hard since the larger trees shade the area well and the invasives are looking for sunny spots. These are just weeds.

We set our work bag in the middle of the plot (the blue blob you see). We have a bag of pruners, goggles, hats, gloves, and other items we need out here, and the blue color helps up find our way back to the bag no matter where we set it. My husband is walking up the hill coming toward the bag.

If you turn and look the other way – that’s the PERT office. I told you we were not far into the park at all. And as I also told you, it’s nice to be so close to the bathrooms and our car if we need anything. Luxury!

Since it is the end of the month we will be making our report, so we planned to count trees. I am sorry to report that we still do not have a good count. We keep finding new ones, or we get confused in the ins and outs of our plot, which still has a lot of overgrown areas.

We did find a couple of small volunteer trees, a maple and two sassafras, and we marked them with pink tape. Maybe you’ll have to take my word for it but there is a tiny tree tagged pink in there.

There is also poison ivy. I left the area quickly – you may remember my epic case from a couple of years ago and now I am very respectful of it.

After counting trees, we gotto work clearing invasives. Last time I removed a lot of wild rosebushes and wineberries from the area where I started to work on today – I wanted to get another section removed.

Now, this picture does not look that exciting, but I took out a solid block of thicket from in front of that large spicebush. You can see it now – before it was part of a large green mound, with vines snaking up it. Spicebush is not a tree, but this one is as large as a tree and can provide shade – so it has a place in the scheme here. I was happy to make its life a bit easier.

And here is a wider view, showing today’s work on the left and last session’s work on the right.

My next target – this area to the left of what I cleared today, which you see I have squarely in my sights in this photo…

How about a closer view of my enemy?

In our work today we found another tree site. No, you are not wrong, there is no tree here – it was completely buried inside some of this overgrowth and died. The sight reminded us of why we are here – to keep the trees from being swallowed up like this one. It was of course quite dead. The invasives grow much faster than the small trees and they have no chance if they are not protected. It’s not like in a forest, where the larger trees keep the invasive growth down.

Well, that’s the story for today. I know that these photos seem to repeat the same thing, week after week – a sea of green. It’s hard to tell how things are going. Take it from us, we are making progress. We have cleared about 30 trees and continue to keep them free of invasives, and we have removed a lot of wild roses and wineberries and today, even some wild raspberries.

Maria Paula, who is in charge of this project at the PERT, is going to be evaluating our area, along with all the others, for possible tree plantings in October. I hope that we will qualify for some new trees. I think that would be fantastic.

Until next time!

Reforesters Update – 5/16/21

This morning my husband and I stopped over at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust to do a checkup on our trees there. As you know, we are caring for small trees and clearing an area known as the West Powerline Corridor of invasive plants.

Today is our 34th wedding anniversary, and this is how we chose to start things off for another year. With our trees in a favorite place we have known for some time.

All right. We’ve made a couple of stops here since my last update, but have done no major work. One thing that did happen in the interim is that the PERT staff cleared some of the undergrowth using machinery, as they had mentioned in our orientation session. There were some sections that would not have been practical for us to clear, and once we had located the trees, they knew where they could do some quick cleearing for us.

You can see in this photo looking down the trail that goes next to our plot many piles of dried up brush piled up ready to be taken away, from that clearing session.

Believe me, this is a big help. Some of the thickets were almost impenetrable and with hand tools it was very difficult to work our way through. We had made some “tunnels” to some of our trees but getting more clearing done would have been very slow. Some of these wild roses have stems as thick as my finger and threaten me with millions of thorns on each one. Never mind the arching wineberry that weaves itself together into linked-arm squadrons!

Now we have more access to the interior of the plot. You can see there is a lot of work to be done still.

We decided to start at the bottom of the hill today and work up. We cleared trees (honeysuckle vines being the most troublesome – they grow quickly and snake right up the wire cages into the tiny trees’ crowns almost as you watch).

Today I focused on removing overhanging branches of spicebush, so that some larger “teenager” trees, as we call them, could have more light. I also decided to tackle a section of brush enclosing a circle of trees, that I had previously cleared.

The work consisted mostly of taking out – yes, you guessed it, roses and wineberries – but I was also able to access a couple of larger trees with vines growing up into their branches and cut them at the base. Such vines inhibit leaf growth which the tree needs to survive not to mention adding weight that eventually snaps limbs.

Look at this photo. To the right is the area I cleared – to the left is what it looked like before, and is the area I will attempt to work with next time.

You might ask what I do with all the trimmings I remove. The answer is, I put them on the ground and stomp them good. They will wither and dry up and their presence might help keep down some re-growth for a bit. We were told that it was fine to leave the clippings and cuttings where they fell by PERT and I only remove them if I have to for better footing or the like.

My husband worked on accessing the back line of the plot. There are some small trees along that area that need attention and we can’t easily get to them. Maybe you can see him; that speck of red is his shirt, in the middle of the photo.

Well, that is the update. The trees pretty much look healthy and even the weakest ones are hanging in there and putting out some leaves. Crossing fingers that everyone keeps growing and reaching for the sun.

Reforesters Update 4/28/21

Today I visited our tree plot at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust. Here’s what happened.

If you are coming in new to this story, my husband and I have taken on a plot at PERT, volunteering to care for small trees as the preserve seeks to restore the land to a forested state. It’s a long term project and we are a tiny part of it, looking after an area known as the West Powerline Corridor. Search under the term Reforesters in this blog if you’d like more info – otherwise, I ‘ll get going on this chapter of the saga.

Today was the first time I have worked on the plot alone. My plan was to count our trees for the monthly roundup and to start on some clearing of invasives, since we have done the primary task of getting our small trees cleared of vines and encroaching growth.

I arrived about 7:15 AM and went out to the plot. It was a lovely warm morning. Here is a picture looking down the power line trail with our plot on the left.

My first task was a tree count. I think we have 25 trees of varying sizes plus two dead ones. I cannot tell if I have gotten all the protected trees counted correctly – there might be something still lost in the some undergrowth, or I could have skipped or double-counted. Things are still pretty confusing right now. But I think I am in the right range.

All my trees look fine. They are getting leaves and they are free of vines and encroachments.

I did see one tree I need to report to Maria Paula, who heads the Reforester effort. This tree is getting too big for its protective sheath (meant to keep deer from rubbing the trunk). I think there is away to mark it on the app with GPS but that is a lesson for another day. Right now my idea is, go to the third electrical pole and look to your right just a bit, you’ll see the tree.

Next, I chose an area with several trees and enlarged the clear area around it. During this time I lost my pruners (they dropped from my pack) but I found them. Good. Today, I used the loppers much more than the pruners. That’s why the pruners could go missing and I didn’t notice at first.

Here’s what the area looked like and I show you a succession of photos as I cleared some of it.

In another area I created a path to a group of trees from the trail, so that we would not have to take a roundabout way through the back of the plot to get to it.

But much of the plot still looks like this:

I will be busy for a long time, won’t I? Well, after about an hour and a half I was tired so I decided to go to the relatively clear area at the top of the hill and start some clearing work. Right now the invasives have not obliterated the landscape but are scattered around working on their stealthy takeover plans. I figured this area would be a nice easy way to wrap up the morning and make a dent in an area that could be planted with trees much sooner than the thickets down the slope.

It looked something like this when I got started. I didn’t do a lot of work but it was something. The second photo shows one of my discard piles I have set beside the trail with some cleared area next to it.

Well, that is it for today. I do see a difference in the plot already – it is easier to move around it now. This project is one that rewards patience and perserverence. These are qualities that I think the trees themselves exemplify.

I really enjoy this work and I feel happy to be outside and under the big sky filled with leafy treetops.

Reforesters Update 4/18/21

You may remember my husband and I are participating as volunteers in this program at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust in Huntingdon Valley, PA . Here’s my intital post on the subject from a couple of weeks ago that describes what we’re up to. I’ll pick up where I left off back then.

I had hoped to get to the plot before now, but I had a week recovering from a minor but painful eye issue and then it rained. And rained. And rained. And then I had my second vaccine shot and…well, you see how time gets away from you.

It’s my intention to be here every week on my own and maybe a weekend day with my husband. Crossing fingers that better weather and health cooperate, because my trees need me!

So we arrived about 8:15 AM, carrying our pruners, loppers, wire cutters, marking tape, and water. I’ll describe my outfit – I don’t have a photo, maybe later…

  • work boots
  • white socks
  • sweatpants tucked into white socks
  • long sleeve shirt tucked into pants
  • sweatshirt
  • head covering that covered my hair and entire head so that I looked bald or else like an elf
  • accessories – work gloves and goggles and a belt pack for my tools

You have to be covered up for this kind of work. Ticks are everywhere (I picked off three in the car ride home). And the wineberry and wild roses are angry little plants if you rub them the wrong way, as you always do…

Let’s take a look. Things have gotten greener inthe past two weeks and our plot is the synonym for the word thicket. Here is a view from the trail – our plot is to the left. Not so bad, you say? Well, up here at the beginning, you are right. It’s not too bad.

Here are some interior views. You might be changing your mind, right? It’s a thicket. Plain and simple. Somehow having a name for the phenomenon makes it easier to work in it. Odd.

But remember, our primary task is to locate the planted trees, check their conditions, and clear them of invasive growth. We also need to clear the area around them a little if necessary – removing overhanging branches of bushes and so on. But cleraing the plot in general will be something we do when we are sure we have the trees settled (I am thinking I will start on an area maybe this week).

We were not able to find all our trees in our earlier session, so today we wanted to make sure we covered the whole area and located them.

After fiddling around with and finally beginning to understand the app that shows us (via GPS) the limits of our plot, we thrashed around and did some two hours of work. I believe we have found all the trees. I need to count them (next time) but out of say maybe 25 or 30, only two were stone-cold dead. I think that is good.

And…the morning was beautiful. The birds were singing and the sun shining away in such a blue sky. As I worked, I reminded myself to look up:

…and to look down.

There is so much beauty here in every square yard of the plot, I think.

By the end of our session we had freed up all the trees we could find (I will not say there are no more of them hidden in the undergrowth). I have learned that honeysuckle is a vine I like, but I do not like it for the trees. Right now it is the biggest threat to them; its fibrous stem grows fast and strong and it doesn’t take long to start to strangle a tree. I unwound several trees from their imprisonment, the vine gone but its marks still on the trunk.

I also realized that I need to leave my phone ringer turned on in case it escapes its zippered pocket in my belt pack and gets lost. I am so glad I thought of this before it actually happened.

Last hint: I may look kooky out there with my goggles but in this kind of environment, the thorny bushes are at eye level and could cause a bad injury as I crash through the undergrowth. I had a couple of scratches on my face but nothing serious. Thank you, goggles.

All right. I’ll leave you with a view of our plot from the bottom of the hill. Look to the right. Is that a bug-eyed woman cursing out some thorny roses that you hear???

Until next time.

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