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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Sylvan Glen Park, Troy, Michigan, USA

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Sylvan Glen Park, Troy, Michigan, USA
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Troy
Posts: 1
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Children of the Earth
by Madeline
I rest my head back on the warm, heated car seat as our car pulls in to the Sylvan Glen parking lot. I can hear the windshield wipers squeak as they skid across the windshield, shooing the rain off our car. “Do you need gloves?” My mom asks. I slowly open my eyes to look down at my clasped hands. Right now, they are a normal fleshy pink, but that is only because they are protected by the heat inside the car. Soon though, I’ll be outside in the freezing rain for who knows how long and I’m sure by then, my hands will look blue.
“Yes,” I say, and she hands me a pair of black, winter gloves. She hands a similar pair to my younger brother, Jason, who is sitting in the back. Mom parks the car and for a moment, all of us stay still. None of us want to be the one to open their door and greet the cold wind and icy rain. I peer outside my window, searching for a familiar classmate or teacher but I see no one. I wonder if this community project got cancelled because of the rain. That would be a shame though. I volunteered to come to Sylvan Glen park and haul mulch onto an unfinished path for two reasons: one, to help the environment, and two, for science extra credit.
Soon enough, I see a huddle of middle school kids surrounding a few adults. “There they are,” I say, but I still don’t move.
“Are you sure you still want to go?” my mom asks. I look into her eyes and see worry. “It’s awfully cold out there,” she adds. She’s right. It is. And it would be so easy to pull away and drive home, where I could spend another October Saturday on the couch, watching reruns of my favorite TV shows. It would be a very cozy day, but it would soon be forgotten. I have to go, especially because I advertised it so much to my classmates. I helped print flyers, spoke on the announcements, and convinced some of my friends to come with me. This project has become my baby so I have to go. I have to help my community.
“Yes,” I say, swinging my door open. I shudder as the wind chills my face. “Come on, Jason,” I say, closing my door and walking toward the huddle of kids. Jason follows not too far behind me. As we approach, I spot my friend, Emma, and file in next to her. I introduce her to Jason and she gives him a genuine smile that reaches her bright, innocent green eyes. Emma reminds me of a tornado. She always seems busy or preoccupied in a way that makes her seem disorganized. But in her heart, she is truly a sweet girl. I’m not surprised to see her here and I feel that although she could well use the extra credit, I think she actually came to help as well.
I turn my attention away from Emma to tune into my science teacher, Mrs. Klein, and two other strangers: a stout boy with glasses and a girl holding an umbrella. I miss their names but I figure that they’re both in high school.
“Well we’re going to walk down to the path. It’s kind of far and I’m so sorry that it’s raining but, I mean, there’s not much we can do about that. We can’t really argue with Mother Nature,” she says smiling sweetly. “So, if you follow me we can get started. Hopefully the rain will let up but if it doesn’t…oh well. So, uh, let’s get going!” She claps her hands together and searches the crowd for any sign of excitement. Her smile begins to waver when she notices how dead we all look. When her eyes sweep past mine, I try my best to look interested but all I can really focus on is the water that’s seeping into my tennis shoes. Although despite the dreary moral, there was quite a good turnout. I’m surprised and delighted by how many students showed up to help spread mulch over the parks paths. I can’t help but feel proud. Advertising was my job and it seems I did it well.
Mrs. Klein drops her hands and walks straight through the crowd to our destination. We all follow her in groups. I talk with Jason and Emma as we walk along the fence that divides the park and a row of houses. Halfway there, we see a tree that is growing right in the middle of the fence. The wires from the fence are tangled in the tree’s trunk but the tree is unharmed and the fence continues. It’s funny, but the fence and tree have learned how to exist in harmony.
We stop at a cluster of trees where a ginormous mound of mulch and collection of tools await us. Mrs. Klein explains to us that there are three roles that need to be filled: the shovelers, the runners and the rakers. The shovelers have to haul the mulch into a wheel barrow, then the runners roll the wheel barrow down the path and dump it so that the rakers can evenly spread it over the path.
I don’t think I’m agile or slick enough to be a runner, and all the rakes have already been taken so I swiftly grab a shovel and head over to the pile of mulch. Unfortunately, Emma and Jason were quick enough to grab a rake, so now we won’t be able to work together. I pout at them and they wave good bye to me. With a sigh I turn away.
As I begin to shovel the mulch into the wheel barrows, I find that shoveling is not as hard as I thought it would be. I fill my first wheel barrow in no time. The runner takes off with it, leaving us shovelers to rest for a bit. The rain has let up and the wind is gone. I no longer feel individual rain drops, instead it’s like I’m in a moist mass. I set my shovel down on the ground and look out at the park.
There is a large pond just to the right of me. A light fog dances over its surface, deciding whether to lift itself or become one with the water. There is a lone swan floating atop the pond, gently causing ripples in the still water as it glides across the pond.
Beyond the water, there are several hills that seem to be resting atop one another. They look more like a painting than actual land forms. I cannot see past them, and that allows my imagination to go astray as I wonder what could lie behind them. Perhaps a vast meadow, where deer nibble on plants and bunnies bounce throughout the grasses. Or maybe an abundance of evergreens. I imagine climbing to the highest hill and looking over all the trees like Mother Nature herself.
Suddenly, I don’t feel cold or uncomfortable. Instead, I feel quite at peace. The mist doesn’t stick to me, it refreshes me. The ground beneath me doesn’t seem squishy and gross; it feels soft, like a natural blanket.
When the runner comes back, I fill the wheel barrow regularly, but I’m in a new world. I’m no longer hauling mulch into a barrow on a rainy, October day. I’m restoring nature, one shovel at a time, in a surreal, beautiful park. This, I realize, is nature. Not sunny skies and man-made reserves, but imperfect conditions and natural beauty.
When the wheel barrow is full, I put my shovel down and take in a deep breath. I can smell the fresh grass and wet trees. I smile to myself and think about how I don’t ever want to go back to the city. The city is selfish. Every square inch of space is eaten up by buildings or roads leading to more buildings. Here the earth is generous, letting me enjoy its beauty. Why can’t the earth always be this wonderful?
Suddenly, I realize that it’s not the earth that is depriving me of its wonders; it’s us humans who are squandering all of its beauty. A great chill runs through me, but as the runner returns with the wheel barrow, I feel the heaviness being lifted. The earth may not be as good as it once was, but today, I have helped restore some of its beauty in Sylvan Glen Park. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I feel a gleam of happiness as I watch all the other kids around me busy at work. My generation is going to save the earth.
Date: December 30, 2013 Views: 5700 File size: 29.9kb, 1613.5kb : 2448 x 3264
Hours Volunteered: 42
Volunteers: 21
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 11 to 17
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