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Many Hands

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.

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