Of the many pleasures of forest stewardship, using our good sense(s) rates high on the list. Each forest and season has its own unique smells. The feel of the winds change every day. The taste of ripe berries or sautéed chanterelles, And let’s not forget the feeling of the rain trickling down your neck as you struggle to shove a stiff, wire choker through the mud under a log. We’re sensible.
Today marked one of our favorite days – planting day. We look forward to it not just because we can’t help but find it a hopeful and idealistic thing to do (“some day you’ll grow up to be a magnificent tree! – right?”), but also because it allows us to use one important sense that is nearly always overpowered in our daily work – hearing. Planting is a uniquely quiet task in the annual cycle of work where we so often live insulated by the loud noise of engines – small to large. The quiet is welcome, but far from silent. Planting shovel clinks against rock, wind sings different tunes with each tree species that it blows through, Northern pygmy owls sends their whistle-like calls in hopes of finding a mate, the lowing of cows is carried to us on the wind from across the valley, and thoughts are made less insulated and alone by the wandering conversations with fellow planters.
Tonight the roots of hundreds of young trees begin stretching out to find a home in the forest, as weary planters fall asleep, too early, on the couch with the book fallen open on our chest – after a day of hard, hopeful – and quiet – work.