I know you’ll enjoy this piece authored by Wenatchee Naturalist, Patrick Farrar.
When I signed up for the Wenatchee Naturalist course, I was hoping to learn some things about our region. That I did, and was further introduced to our delightful region and some of the great people who live and work here.
In order to give back to the community, I signed an agreement to volunteer my time for local groups. Not knowing exactly where I wanted to focus my time, I cast a wide net and engaged in a variety of work, adventures, and at times complete independence to fulfill my agreement and have fun too.
I was up at 4am, hunkering down in the sage brush of Eastern Washington to view and count Sharp-tailed Grouse; finally seeing the direct link between the dance of the birds and the dances of native peoples.
I hauled tires out of Little Chumstick Creek when a neighbor had exhausted all his resources to have the culprit remove them; I shared some muddy satisfaction and gained a new sense of community with a group of like-minded folks.
I planted trees on the property of a Cashmere couple who wanted to restore the section of Mission Creek that fronted their property; many grins and casual conversations were enjoyed as light rain did nothing to dampen our spirits.
I tromped into remote regions of the Moses Coulee flagging trail segments for volunteers to place wayfinding signs. Thanks to the trust of a supervisor, I hiked where the only footprints were left by deer, elk, coyotes, and birds; sneaking up on a variety of wildlife, including a tan coyote with a black muzzle. I found a memorial at an overlook, then was chased off the ridge when rain and lightning started to bounce off the rim rock.
I spent some time performing office work enjoying camaraderie with employees, but my joy was out in the field. The peaceful views were enhanced even more when I stopped to take a drink, look around, and then, finally look down. Oh, the usual suspects such as mud, ants, and bugs were seen. But then I relaxed my vision and the world at my feet exploded with biocrust, “belly flowers”, bitter root, and butterflies…lichens, lilies, and baby lupine still carrying the first pair of leaves, now a brilliant red.
I was provided heartfelt thanks when submitting my volunteer hours…if only they knew what I really accomplished and the satisfaction I felt with performing these tasks, and the discovery that awaited me around every corner. Your experience is definitely out there, I encourage you to go get it!
Thanks to Susan Ballinger, Washington State Fish and Wildlife, Cascadia Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy (Corinna Hanson, Nick Altadonna), and The Washington Native Plant Society (Wenatchee Chapter).