(Posted November 10, 2010)
Remember when you were little and you would have to be in bed with your teeth brushed after dinner by 8:30? Those days seem to be back again for me with the combination of a full-time commitment to SOLV and daylight savings time; I feel like I’m back to being eight years old again as I tuck myself into bed seemingly earlier each night. But I am thankful each night for the tiredness I feel, as I know I have had the ability to work a full day. Speaking of which….
November has settled in over Oregon and as we have been hearing since we arrived in August, the rain is here to stay as well. Though it makes bike travel difficult, we are lucky enough to live quite close to a bus stop that can take us to the train in the mornings; the key is making it to the stop in time as the bus only comes once an hour. Miles and I have been driving quite a bit to our Green Team sites for SOLV, but there is something I really enjoy about taking public transportation. Especially during the month of November, which Fairfield’s LEAF is calling “No Impact November”, I am trying to be more conscious about my consumption and how I use resources. This is inspired byNo Impact Man, a documentary/blog/book following the story of Colin Beavan in his attempt to live as lightly as possible on our Earth with its finite resources. While I probably won’t be able to create my own refrigerator out of a terra cotta pot, I am taking stock of where I consume too much and looking at alternative ways of using resources. Not using paper towels or air dryers in restrooms, eating dinner by candlelight, using reusable containers for toting food and drinks, playing board games instead of watching a movie…
Last week was a full week with Green Teams and keeping up with the SOLV blog. I worked with Deer Park students as I do every Tuesday; I am really enjoying the time I spend with them as they are the students I see most often and the smallest group I have. We finished planting our native plants and walked to another part of Willow Creek to look at the area we will be digging up for turtle nesting habitat. We’re really hoping to attract native turtles to the site as it is the ideal habitat for them; the students seem to be really excited about it. I continued my work at Willow Creek the next day with Rachel Carson Middle School students; I helped student sdig an area for turtle nesting habitat. Turtles need habitat relatively free of grasses and invasive species on a southward facing slope with easy access to the water; we will be digging three areas in total at Willow Creek. The students will be constructing these sites with our help and monitoring for turtle eggs as their nesting season approaches.
I worked with one of Miles’ schools on Thursday at Beaver Creek to do some more native planting of trees and shrubs. The teacher is actually an experienced kayaker and brought three kayaks with her to get students more acquainted with the site; we hope to use the kayaks to collect debris from the stream, do macroinvertebrate testing, willow staking and monitoring. Miles and I were able to get in the kayaks and paddle around the area after the students had left. I can’t tell you the last time I was in a kayak, (I’m not sure if I was ever in one, come to think of it…) but I became comfortable quickly and was really grateful for being so close to the water.
We were out at Rock Creek on Friday with Clackamas High School; though its a beautiful site, it has been a place for many transients in the Clackamas area. Between 10,000 and 12,000 people are homeless in Clackamas County and it is difficult for them to find services to fit their needs as many agencies are found in cities and few are found in suburban settings. At one site in Clackamas, there have been up to 50 homeless camps set up at a time and people just shuffle from one site to another.
The Rock Creek site provides a fantastic opportunity for invasive removal as the area is almost completely covered in Himalayan blackberry and in desperate need of native plants to stabilize streambanks and shade the waterway. Students were able to remove hundreds of pounds of blackberry and plant a great amount of native trees. Meghan led macroinvertebrate testing and students found a great number of mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies as well as coho salmon, steelhead trout and sculpin. One student found a rough skinned newt as she was removing blackberry and another found a salamander as he was planting a big leaf maple. By examining what bugs and organisms they found, students were able to determine how clean or polluted the waterway was. A great day of wildlife and for photographing it all; I felt like I worked for National Geographic. (A lot of the photos and video are up on the SOLV blog.) We continued the day with West Linn High School at another site and had our first brush with severe weather; it hailed as we were planting!
An exhausting but really productive week at work made relaxation time on the weekend much needed! My housemates and I returned to our Friday night ritual of buying pizza dough and making our own pizza; delicious. Christie also made mulled wine, which made me think of the fall months in Paris and Prague during my junior year, where mulled wine was the holiday drink of choice. On Saturday morning, Elena, Sean and I attended a training for the SOS Shelter; a homeless shelter sponsored by several area churches for men, women and children in the coldest winter months. I hope to get involved as an overnight host or an evening host, helping with dinner and evening activities. Saturday evening was spent with my housemates in Portland, celebrating Chris’ acceptance into Stonybrook Medical School. We stopped in at Rogue Ales for some fantastic Portland beer (I sampled the Northwestern Ale, inspired by Sig Hansen of the Deadliest Catch) and then made our way to a McMenamin’s, ending our night at the Morris JVC house. Sunday was a day of rest, culminating in a discussion of spirituality and God’s will for us in our lives by some of our JV support people.
I have missed writing as I have been so busy updating the SOLV blog and I hope this gives you some good insight into what I’m up to out here in Oregon. I heard on the radio that mountainous areas of Oregon should be expecting 6-12 inches of snow this week and ski resorts could see as much as 18 inches of snow. Needless to say, I had a nightmare a few nights ago that we couldn’t plant trees because it had snowed. Here’s to happy dreams and sunny skies!