Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘parks’

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

Share the Story logoDecember 5th marks the United Nation’s International Volunteer Day – a day where people and communities worldwide come together in service. I agreed to join a group of volunteers from Meridian International Center (you might remember them from Week 36) who were going to plant trees with Washington Parks and People.

On the bus ride over to Oxon Run Park in the Southeast part of our nation’s capital my mind drifted back to the turn of the 19th century to images of Johnny Appleseed leisurely spreading seeds from a small leather pouch as he headed to the new frontier of the Midwest. Well not only is my mental version of Johnny Appleseed historically inaccurate, it couldn’t have been further from the reality that lay ahead.

Along the trickling banks of the stream bearing the park’s name, we were put into small groups and assigned about a half-dozen trees to plant in the lonely green clearing. That’s right, no seeds but 100+ pound baby trees. Each team was led by a graduate of the DC Green Corps – a city-wide program developed by Washington Parks and People that introduces participants to more than 50 different careers in urban forestry through an intensive three-month course.
I am not sure which part is more difficult. Digging the whole to put the trees in or schlepping the trees around. The next morning my forearms hurt so bad from shoveling…that movement that you make to leverage the shovel against the earth burdens muscles that I apparently never use.

DSC_0078.jpgWhen the day was over we had planted 61 trees according to the design plan that the Washington Parks and People staff architected. It took into account aesthetics and purpose – the trees would help keep soil in tact and reduce erosion and excessive runoff that causes flooding during heavy rains. The American sweetgums (liquidambar styraciflua) that I helped plant that day are native to the region and will dazzle local residents with its deep glossy green foliage which give way to beautiful purplish hues in the fall.

Before we left several volunteers named and hugged their trees. Despite being a self-proclaimed treehugger, I didn’t wrap my tired arms around any of my trees. Instead I took a moment to appreciate the beauty of our labor that day and firmly record the new landscape in my mind. I think I will make a pilgrimage to the area each year to find refuge from Washington’s sweltering summer heat and have a picnic in the cool shadows of the sweetgums five-pointed star-shaped leaves.

DSC_0159.jpgPlease consider volunteering with Washington Parks and People and DC Green Corps. You can also make donations to help support their incredible work.

Click here for more photographs from this event.

Read Full Post »

I’m heading over to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic later today.  Should be a good day of tennis, both Andy Roddick and John Isner are playing tonight!  They play up at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.  If you are not familiar with Rock Creek Park, it is a beautiful sanctuary of green space in Washington, DC that is twice the size of New York’s Central Park. 

On my way home from work I walk right by the lower part of the park.  One evening after work I noticed that there were only two people in the park near the entrance of the park at 23rd and O Streets.  One was a young man who was sitting by himself in the middle of the park.  The other was a man who was walking around in a slightly crazed manner.  I watched as the wandering man got closer and closer to the guy sitting by himself. 

By the time I got close to the guy sitting on the grass, the other man had wandered over to the edge of the woods.  I decided to approach the young man sitting by himself.

Raoul preferred not to be photographed, but he was sitting just over the hill to the right (photo: Reed)

I introduced myself and took a seat next to Raoul.  He’s a 32-year-old professional who works here in DC for a non-profit focused on energy sustainability.  “I came out here just to relax a little and catch up on some emails,” he told me as he lifted his right hand to reveal a cell phone.

There are some tennis courts and a swimming pool adjacent to where we were sitting and Raoul told me that he had actually just came from a swim over at the pool.  I have never been to the Francis Swimming Pool (2500 N. Street).  In fact I didn’t even know it was there until a few weeks ago.  Given how hot it has been this summer I am considering making a visit over there though.  It’s walking distance from my place and it’s free for DC residents!

Originally from Mumbai (Bombay), India, Raoul moved to the US about 15 years ago.  His parents are diplomats and they were posted here in DC.  He grew up speaking Hindi and five other local dialects in addition to English.  I asked him how somebody learns five dialects!  “You just sort of pick them up informally by talking with your friends” he shared.  Now he also speaks some Spanish, French and Italian.  It probably won’t come as any surprise to you that Raoul is well traveled and has visited 37 countries.

I love Indian food and never miss an opportunity to ask someone who I think might have a good tip about finding the ultimate in Indian cuisine.  “I like the Bombay Club” he said about the Farragut North locale.  I haven’t been there but will definitely check it out.  He says that he really misses some of the simple street foods from India. 

View of Connecticut Avenue crossing Rock Creek Park

Raoul says that he will give the $10 to somebody else or some organization.  “Maybe I’ll give it to Bread for the City” he says.  That’s odd…because I was planning to go to a Bread for the City event later that week.  It’s a great organization that I will talk about later this week.

Since Raoul is working for a sustainable energy organization I thought I would ask if he had any advice for people on how they could do their part on conserving energy.  He looked over at me and said “Turn the lights off and take the metro.”  Sounds so simple but most of us could do better about reducing the electricity we use and taking public transportation.

Read Full Post »

On Sunday I visited my good friends Tom and Tressa and their almost five-month-old daughter Tegan. We went to Fountainhead Regional Park and did some hiking around the Occoquan River Reservoir, which serves as a border between Fairfax and Prince William counties.

We stumbled across a group of people fishing. A young guy who had ventured out on a log a few feet captured my attention. He was wearing a dark shirt, extra long shorts, socks, and sandals. He deftly balanced his weight has he almost effortlessly cast his line in and out. As I approached him I thought he was reeling in a fish, but it turned out to be some branches that his hook got caught up in.

Victor reels in what turns out to be some branches (Photo: Reed)

Victor is a 20-year-old landscaping entrepreneur. For the last three years he has been growing VMR Landscaping in the Northern Virginia region; mostly in Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. I asked him how business was doing and he quickly replied that the business was doing very well. “Especially power-washing. Right now that is a big part of my business.”

Victor loves to fish. He had caught about four fish that day, but only one was a keeper, a fish with some black coloring on its underside measuring in a little over a foot. His record was a catfish which measured up to his thigh. On Sunday he was mostly catching Crappies, a fish I had never even heard of, but the name alone makes me think that they are a disappointing fish.

All of a sudden he got a bite and started reeling in a fish, but it got away. Took his bait too. I asked him what kind of bait he used and he said that he usually used night crawlers, shrimp, liver or sardines. He is going to use my $10 to rent a boat the next time he comes out to fish…they run about $11 for the day.

Victor shared with me that he does not know his biological mother. Born in El Salvador, he moved here with his father when he was just a few years old. He says that he would like to know her. Her name is Maria Maldalena Arana, although I found very few cases of Maldalena. More common are Magdalena and Madalena…so perhaps I wrote down the incorrect spelling. The last he knew of her was that she was living in Arlington, VA around 1996. Victor thinks that he has a younger sister too. As much as I can understand his desire to meet his mother, I imagine that he must have mixed feelings about it. He must have so many questions. So many emotions.

If anyone has information about Victor’s mother, please comment here or send me an email and I will pass it along to Victor. I would also like to ask that if you live in the Falls Church/Manassas/Manassas Park area and are looking for landscaping services that you consider giving Victor a try. Drop me a note and I can connect you.

Victor caught a small fish that he threw back (Photo: Reed)

As I said goodbye Victor got another bite…this time he reeled the fish in. Unfortunately it was just a little guy. I grabbed a photo of him and the fish before he tossed it back.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 323 other followers