I got a late start. I’d been reading the latest Christian Science Monitor, which gives you the scoop on the good news that is happening around the world, and then the Washington Post, where I learned Walmart will not build two stores that were to anchor two shopping centers east of the river. I thought about the urban farming piece in the Monitor, and then about UDC growing its urban farming footprint eastward to establish a urban farm in Ward 7.
At last, I headed out to the New Morning Farm farmers market at Sheridan School (open Saturdays through March) and passed a swarm of volunteers at the Soapstone Valley trailhead. I had forgotten about the volunteer days Rock Creek Conservancy had organized this weekend. I took a photo and then saw Mary Beth Ray and Marjorie Share looking eager to start working.
I hurried to the farmer market to pick up their mostly root vegetable offerings for a beef stew I wanted to make in my new slow cooker, a Hanukkah present from my daughter, and russet potatoes for a potato kugel recipe I had found in the NY Times Magazine section a couple of weeks ago. I hoped to catch up with the volunteers once I dropped the veggies off at home. It was such a warm day, what better excuse to spend even more time outside beyond my usual walk.
As I ducked onto the trail from Albemarle Street, I noticed that the piles of mulch that I had seen on Friday while on a walk with Lee Cannon, a freelance writer and Forest Hills Connection contributor, had been spread out along the trail.
This is what the volunteers had been up to, and they did a wonderful job. The heavy rain the night before would have left the trail muddy and slippery, but now, there was no mud to be seen. What a delight!
I did not hear any voices of volunteers as I headed down the steep part of the trail. Volunteers from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club had worked on this segment on the previous Saturday. Where a small muddy stream fed by water runoff had crossed the trail before, I found a clear stepping stone path.
Then I saw a small gray bird with white markings on its head and thought it might be a woodpecker, but it did not act like one. If I got a photo, I thought, my neighbor and longtime friend Marjorie Rachlin would be able to identify it. As it flitted from tree to tree, I tried to take a shot, but whenever I zoomed in, I lost it. Then it flew away. I muttered out loud, “I missed it.”
“Yes, we did miss it,” said a woman walking toward me. “I got caught in my car on a phone call, and by the time I was free, they were done. There were a lot of volunteers. It looked like over 50.”
It took me a moment to realize what she was talking about. As we were headed down the path together we introduced ourselves. She was Kathy Pyke from Adams Morgan. As we tramped through the first stream crossing, we noticed quite a bit of trash which Ken Sands, a volunteer with the PATC, had mentioned in a communication to the Forest Hills Connection. Kathy suggested we do our part by picking up the trash in the stream. I heartily agreed.
This was a great opportunity to test out my new waterproof hiking shoes, and my feet slipped into the water more than a few times as I chased down one piece of trash after another. Kathy found a plastic bag into which we dumped most of the trash we found: more plastic bags, plastic bottles, a good bit of Styrofoam.
And someone is missing a sock.
We enjoyed the trail’s winter beauty as we worked. Kathy marveled at a tree trunk covered in mushrooms. I didn’t see it; moss-covered rocks had grabbed my attention.
As we parted ways, I reminded her to check out the mushroom posts on Forest Hills Connection.
I headed toward Broad Branch Road. And everywhere I looked I saw trash in the stream. Can you find the trash in this photo?
I was about to attack the last stream crossing when a large flock of birds took off overhead.
The next time I go out, I am going to bring a plastic bag and pick up some trash. If the weather holds, perhaps the Forest Hills community can do a trash pickup in the stream one afternoon.
I will make this suggestion at the annual meeting of the Forest Hills Citizens Association/Neighborhood Alliance this Thursday, January 21st from 7 to 9 p.m. at 2738 Brandywine Street (everyone’s invited – here are more details and RSVP information). Let’s make it contingent on the temperature – at least 40 degrees. I think we can handle this!