In March Dear Husband and I visited Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright's famous creek-tottering domicile, and were so impressed by the work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, its parent organization, that we joined on the spot. I have enjoyed the flower plantings cultivated around time by the WPC and started looking for a chance to plant trees for the environment and the aesthetics. Happily for so late in October, the weather was fair on a recent Saturday, when we joined 40-50 volunteers to plant 84 trees and 125 potted plants along the North Shore of Pittsburgh. Behind us in Heinz Field were the cheers of some fan activity, while across the Allegheny River protesters could be glimpsed carrying neon signs outside Station Square. There were lots of people out walking themselves, their dogs, and/or their children; running; biking; and generally enjoying the weekend. I think at one point a parade of people on a stroke walk came by.
After a breakfast of bagels and coffee, we watched a tree-planting demonstration. The Pittsburgh Redbud Project has planted so many of its eponymous namesake that the young trees we were planting had to be shipped in from New Jersey, as none of the nurseries around here had any that were big enough. And these were deceptively heavy for saplings, requiring 3-6 people to wrestle them into their new homes. DH and I then worked with three other Pittsburghers to plant three redbuds and a hornbeam tree: Galadriel (pictured above), Gandalf, Waldo, and Louie. I wanted to continue the Lord of the Rings theme and name Waldo "Tom Bombadil," since he was going to live in the middle of a bunch of bushes (see below), but I got outvoted. Louie we named for Louis Armstrong (a horn player, get it?).
Three hours later there was pizza and cookies. We needed showers after sweating in the 70+-degree weather (it had been less than 50 degrees when we left the house that morning) and discovered aching muscles we didn't even know we had. It was good, honest, manual labor that we will likely repeat at least once a year. That's so Pittsburgh.
If you liked this post, you might like these ones about Pittsburgh's labor history or the the Frick Art Museum.