I have been having trouble with writing lately. So I thought maybe I should write about my trouble with writing. I know I don’t write because I need to keep a running commentary of our activities. I like writing because I have something to relate, something to share. And when I am on a roll, the thoughts and the feelings just pour out. I really understand the concept of “block” as a barrier to that flow. I think that lately I have been too busy living, too busy doing, and I haven’t taken the time to stop and share. I miss it. I am realizing that the writing is part of the experience for me, and I am better able to remember it and put in into perspective when I can write about it.
One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamotte, says that when you can’t write the say you want, just sit down and pour out. So here goes. . .
We just finished our second NOMADS project for this year, a three-week stint at Ocean Park Learning Center, Camp and Retreat in Ocean Park, Washington. Ocean Park Camp lies near the end of a peninsula jutting out into the ocean at the at the south-west corner of the state of Washington. The team we were working with on this project was huge, 10 rigs, 18 people in all. There were seven couples, a brother-sister team, and two singles. We were afraid that with a group this large we wouldn’t be able to achieve the intimate working relationships we achieved with the smaller team at Ten Sleep. Silly us!
Among the projects at this site: lots of exterior caulking and painting, re-wiring, re-plumbing and re-modeling a laundry room, tearing out a wooden sidewalk and replacing it with concrete, completely reorganizing and transforming the huge shop, cleaning gutters, replacing and replumbing the hookups in the RV campground, cleaning brick, laying brick pathways, splitting wood, minor interior and exterior structural repairs, and clearing brush three ways.
The first way, Gorse. Think Russian Olives on steroids. Intentionally introduced to this country by a misguided Scot who felt strongly about keeping something out or keeping something in. It is thorny beyond belief, and it has so much oil in it that when it catches fire it is nearly impossible to extinguish. It heals itself, so if the stumps are not poisoned within 15 minutes of cutting the plant seals over and you lose ground. The spring NOMAD group at Ocean Park usually has to cut more gorse because that is when it is seeding, but we had to deal with our share of it.
The second way, Islands. The peninsula is covered with heavy brush, mostly evergreen huckleberries, blackberries, and manzanita, obscuring the rhododendron, pine, ash and cascara trees. Lots of the campground has been cleared, and there are wide trails through the parts that haven’t. There are also islands and walls of brush obscuring visibility and internet connectivity. Myself and several others were tasked with clearing a huge island in the RV campground of all brush up to 6 feet. ,Gary, one of the project leaders came around on the tractor every day to collect our brush piles, and by the time we were done we had created massive mounds bigger than houses waiting for the burn bans to be lifted.
The third way, Pruning. This was my favorite, and really exercised all of that Master Gardener training in my resume. Our first job was to clean up and enlarge the play area behind the Children’s Learning Center. For this kind of work we were much more careful, stepping back between each removal to gauge the effect, evaluating each tree, always going for what was pleasing to the eye. We uncovered a huge ash tree, its trunk over 2 feet in diameter, tall and straight, unusual in this coastal climate. It is now a beautiful sentinel in the play yard, providing shade in the summer, color in the fall.
When we finished the Learning Center we moved on to the dining hall, liberating three giant pines from a strangulation of manzanita, and rhododendrons from the suffocation of their own exuberance. It was really rewarding to start in an area and bring it into focus and clarity.
Our work time was interspersed with bike rides and hiking, lighthouse explorations, delves into Lewis and Clark historical sites, dinners out with friends, and a girls day out. I also managed to acquire a haircut, which is still a traumatic endeavor for me.
In the end, we were able to build lifelong relationships and accomplish a lot of good work with Ocean Park NOMADS.
So there. Writing.