Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm A Tree People

After a late night of delicious wine, tasty Thai, and scrumptious list-making, my friend Brooke and I made a groggy drive up the coast for a morning mission: join TreePeople at the mouth of Topanga Canyon to do some restoration work. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when we pulled up there were shovels, buckets, work gloves, and seedlings – all doled out by a man I was all but certain was Kolby Kirk, circa 2033.

Future Kolby gave us a rundown on what we were doing – this part of Topanga Canyon was actually part of the State Park, but had long been neglected, allowing an encampment of squatters to build a veritable homestead in the area. They dammed up the creek, effectively stranding the steelhead trout who used to do this whole salmon-spawning shebang up from the ocean every year. They also tracked in invasive species, killing off the native shrubs and trees, leaving a whole lot of adorable forest creatures homeless.

It was interesting being the volunteer and not the supervisor, as I have been with past TreePeople endeavors (San Gabriel & San Bernadino Mountains, post-Station Fire). It was hard work – sweaty and dirty – but it felt good to strike the seemingly hundred-pound dig bar into the ground, push the shovel down into the rocky soil, and excavate any number of man-made junks from the dirt, making way for a tiny little leafy life to take root. Each planting felt like a little miracle; I’ve spent hours (well, days...weeks...when you add up all the hours) tromping these canyons and hillsides. I try to be a conscientious hiker, but to do something so pointedly give-backy felt really, really good.

At the end of the session, I felt tired, sweaty, warm, dirty, and achy. But I also felt a lot like the adorable kiddo next to us who commented: "We're doing a favor for the Earth!” (Cue the “awwwwws!”).  

We drove up the canyon a bit and had lunch at Abuelita’s, both of us exhausted but quietly proud of the work we’d done that morning. “I want to do that again,” Brooke said, after we’d spent a length of time staring out the window into the leafy beyond.

“Me, too.”

And I will.
And she will.
And so will many, many other people.

For all of the graffiti that bums me out on the way to work, the marked-up concrete gray expanse of our metropolitan bowl: because I know that people are willing to do this kind of work, to get their hands and knees and elbows and ears dirty, I know that all is not lost.

No comments:

Post a Comment