Seasons Change: Field Notes From An Urban Forester

 In City Shade

This week’s blog post is contributed by Suzannah DesRoches, Urban Forest Programs Manager.

 It’s sometimes hard for me to align the recognition of the passing of time with the feeling of the passing of time. For example, it blows my mind to think that we at TreeFolks have been planting trees for over four months already this season! And with March just beginning, we still have a few more plantings to go. I won’t go so far as to say “it feels like just yesterday”, but memories of our first volunteer event of the season make it feel much more recent than mid-October.

That Saturday we gathered at Webberville Park in a thick fog blanketing the fields along the Colorado River and planted fifty-three trees until the fog burned off, yielding a humid, sunny day where I was slathering on sunblock and hounding volunteers to drink water. I so look forward to seeing those new trees cast generous shade for decades of park users, filtering water as it rolls off the natural escarpment within the park on down toward the Colorado.

Fast forward nearly two months to a Thursday in early December. It’s a windy 42 degrees out, and little do we know – the next day we’ll be snowed out entirely. But this day, we’re planting trees at Norman Elementary with incredible folks who are having the time of their lives, despite the fact that yep, that is sleet that is beginning to sting our faces! We planted nineteen trees all around the school’s playground, and then went back to install an irrigation system to keep the trees healthy during our tough summers when school is out.

Somewhat frozen ourselves, TreeFolks staffers took the truck back to the office, where we traded our shovels for dibbles in prep for another tree planting – this time a riparian sapling planting at Camp Mabry. And then the snow came. Nature has a way of humbling us in our plan-making, reminding us that she is boss, and that as we should all know: Texas weather cannot be tamed. The next day I arrived to meet a truck loaded not only with tools, but with lingering melting snow as well.  

As I watch the redbud tree blooming in front of our office, I’m stunned by how quickly Spring approaches, despite the frigid temps that this tree – and all of our other trees – just withstood during the past two months. I’m reminded that seasons change (sometimes too quickly here in Texas) and that within each season lies opportunity. As Central Texas planting season winds down at the end of March, we at TreeFolks will put away our shovels and focus on other opportunities, such as tree care, hosting more Tree ID Walks, and celebrating Earth Week with our community.

Whatever this season of dormancy has brought you, I hope you too find joy in watching the trees wake, putting forth hopeful buds and blooms, and stretching their branches toward the life-giving sunshine.