by Judy Palpant
California quail often coexist with aluminum cans and other debris in our valley’s ditches. At the recent annual April valley clean up, it was heartening to see children and their parents, teens and old-timers turned up to lend a hand. But during the other months of the year, if we go on a long walk, my husband Sam and I keep plastic bags in our pockets for the inevitable cups, bottles, and wrappers tossed from passing cars.
After one of these walks last summer, I approached the entrance to Pine River Park with a full bag of rubbish and another one of recycling. A woman wearing garden gloves was pulling weeds from between the red rocks and putting them in a garbage bag.
“Thank you for your work!” I called to her.
She looked up and said, “And thank you for yours!”
We laughed and found out we both live in Pine River Park. It turned out that Jan Cooper and I share mutual friends and our daughters attended Mead High School together. The eyesore caused by the weeds was notable and I asked her if she could use some help.
The following Thursday, Jan returned with her husband Mike and we tackled the rock enclosed flower bed built into the stone wall. I told them that twenty some years ago Jon Keller, a neighbor boy, designed and built the rock entryway as an Eagle Scout project. His mom planted daffodil bulbs in the rock flower bed. Over time, the bulbs had been eaten or rotted, leaving only a display of weeds. A couple of other Pine River residents previously tackled the area but had moved away or been discouraged by the lack of water. We decided to build up the soil and try planting again.
A master gardener friend came up with a design that included deer and drought resistant plants which would also attract bees and butterflies. She and her husband returned in the fall with the “starts” taken from her own plants.
In addition, 50 daffodil bulbs were purchased. Four Pine River Park families agreed to come on a Saturday in early November to plant them. Children from Pine River Park dug holes and put in the bulbs: Skyler, Ella, Conrad, Hannah, Anders, Martin, Hope, Sophia, Gracie, Makayla, Owen, Zoe, Conner, Clara, Wyatt and Austin. They were encouraged to keep an eye open for the flowers during the coming spring. This week, Zoe just told me she saw green things popping up where we’d planted bulbs.
We encouraged the kids to fill their water bottles and empty them on the flowers this summer. Hopefully, others will do the same.
This past Halloween, we spotted a couple broken logs on the fence that surrounds the red rock area. My husband Sam joined Mike Cooper and neighbor/engineer Craig Gendreau and his son Jake. Together, they sized up the problem and returned with the tools and equipment to repair the logs.
As you drive or walk past the entrance to our neighborhood, take a look. Remember the vision and work of an Eagle Scout recently renewed with the small hands of the next generation. Enjoy the daffodils followed by the irises, then the lavender, goldenrod and other flowers that will bloom in the months ahead.
It is a joy to live along the Little Spokane River. Let’s take pride in our river valley, its roadsides and trails so that we can pass to the next generations both the blessings of living here as well as the duties required to maintain our beautiful environment. Thanks for doing your part.