The rain was falling heavy all through Tuesday night and things had not changed much when the alarm went off the next morning, signaling the new day. The Chesapeake Bay Forestry Workgroup had a meeting scheduled at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Hearing and seeing the rain and knowing the schedule of the day brought back memories from my past life. For years, the month of April had a pretty profound impact on my life. One of the duties as an employee working for the Virginia Department of Forestry was to plant tree seedlings with volunteer groups. The best planting months are March, April, November and December, but April was extremely busy with plantings because of Earth Day and Arbor Day. You can plant trees during other months, but for “bare root” seedlings with no soil on their roots, months with high precipitation and cooler temperatures are the best.
The Banshee Reeks Manor House sits on the top of a hill and Goose Creek winds through the rolling farmland and forest. The “Banshee” was with us that Wednesday because of the pouring rain; the misty spirit hung over the reeks (rolling hills and valley). But hardy as the Forestry Workgroup members are, they hopped on a wagon and rode down the hills -- in the pouring rain -- to Goose Creek to see the task before them.
The heavily grassed floodplain had bare areas that were prepared for a riparian buffer planting. Our hosts from the Virginia Department of Forestry had planting bars, tree seedlings, gloves, tree shelters and all of the equipment needed to get the trees in the ground; the Workgroup members were the muscle. The group planted approximately 125 sycamore, black walnut, river birch, hackberry and dogwood shrub seedlings -- again, in the pouring rain -- in a little over an hour.
As we road the wagon back up the hill -- still in the pouring rain -- and looked back at the newly planted floodplain, the enthusiasm was hard to contain. There was a special warm feeling that drifted over me, reminiscent of my days of planting with volunteers: the feeling of knowing you just did something special that will last far into the future. For the Forestry Workgroup members who promote riparian forest buffer plantings in the Bay watershed, this was a “lead by example” exercise.
As everyone got into their cars to return to their home states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other parts of Virginia, yes, they were cold, they were wet, but they were proud of their work.