February 2nd, 2013, Groundhog’s Day, dawned so promising that any oversized, den dwelling rodent up here in Ariel, WA would certainly have heralded an early spring. However, here at Lelooska our attention was not on the what was in the ground, but rather who was up in the trees.
A team of seven volunteer arborists were ascending the trees around us, bringing much needed order to the canopy at the Lelooska Cultural Center. Joining the arborists at Lelooska was a team of volunteer laborers, ready to haul, rake, and clean as needed. Despite the heavy workload, every mounting pile and obstructed path was swiftly and efficiently straightened up, transformed into bark mulch or fed to the burn pile.
Ten pizzas were donated by Wendy Johnson, all warm and waiting for the work crew at lunch. The kitchen was almost impassable, full of bodies, conversation, and laughter. A crew of arborists can consume pizza with astonishing voracity! Not a serious sentence was uttered during this well earned break, in which the lively characters of our guests were nourished, and their energy replenished for the second half of a very long day.
Bellies full to burst, the arborists reattached ropes and carabiners, climbing back into the branches. The communication techniques from the tops of the trees was full of vibrant creativity, at times giving the impression of being surrounded by wild forest dwelling creatures, and at others of bearing witness to an elevated party of adventurous souls. The results of these light hearted antics was astonishing.
In eight hours six large trees were removed, including a huge English Walnut threatening the ,museum and surrounding buildings, two cherry trees, and an alder whose remaining stump was transformed into a bird habitat. Countless danger limbs were removed, leaving the grounds and buildings safer and more manageable. Five stumps were ground, including some leftovers from previous tree removals. While there is still plenty to do at upcoming work parties, significant progress was made for one day of work.