Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Guess I Planted

Saturday morning we leapt from bed, jammed everyone into their fleecy clothes, gobbled down a quick cup of coffee and some oatmeal on our way out the door wandered around the house for a while like a herd of sleep-deprived goats, looking for shoes and rejecting all breakfast ideas, before finally getting into the car and driving to a tree-planting organized by the Hudson River Estuary Program's Trees for Tribs initiative. The idea is to create erosion and runoff buffers around Hudson tributaries by planting trees, and to then eat pizza.

We got out of the car and shoved the stroller (the town stroller, not the woodland stroller, whoops) through waist-high grass down toward the bank of the Moodna Creek, ignoring the plaintive bleats of our son, who hated his coat, and his shoes, and his too-large work gloves, and us, and who was cold. It was simple enough to follow the rows of plastic tubing that had been erected to protect the newly-planted saplings from browsing deer, until we found the other hippies concerned citizens who had decided this was important enough to do on a Saturday morning.

Although we had been alerted to the event by an email from a friend in another town who couldn't actually make it to plant trees, we found ourselves in the midst of a who's-who: the woman we bought our house from, a friend we made through other friends, one of our babysitters, the water authority consultant I'd already talked to about our cellar...it seemed as though we'd found the right crowd.

The work was very light (somehow the holes had dug themselves) and our companions had done much of it already. Almost before the lad had asked if we were ready to leave, we were ready to leave. Just then, atop the mighty iron Moodna Viaduct, something like 200 feet overhead, a Secaucus-bound New Jersey Transit train hove into view. That did it for the boy, and the look on his face did it for us.

While we had worked, shoving dirt in around the root balls of the thin sticks and staking up tubes of corrugated plastic to protect them from nibbling teeth, I had tried to impress the boy with the seriousness of what we were doing, tried to get him to picture a time twenty years hence when a proud stand of oaks and maples that he had helped plant would keep the creek within its banks and help the adjacent fields retain their topsoil, while providing habitat for animals and shade for hikers— and what he'll remember is the train.

Which is also fine by me.


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