The Understory

From Gabrielle, March 17
Driving to drop off the Shelter Meal at RRUUC today, I spied these and wondered where they came from. They were not there on Thursday when we closed up RRUUC in the time of Corona.
     I saw Joe Salunias with tools walking away and still keeping appropriate distance, I asked what they were. “Shrubs,” he said. He continued to tell me a short story about evolution and Earth Sangha, where the shrubs came from, and what he and others had planted this weekend. This weekend, you know when other Marylanders changed how they spent their day to day.
     These shrubs were “of” the DMV region, seeds that had grown to shrubs but had always lived here.  Then he started to rattle their names off… the one I remembered was Silver Dogwood because he stopped to tell me that a New York Dogwood has different DNA than the native ones that grow here.  The shrubs planted in the silver cages were native to Maryland.
     I marveled at that science.
    The sight of the plants, and the names of those who worked with him this weekend were soul-settling.  You, and all members of your family, can have this soul-settling opportunity too. RRUUC has a number of “no personal contact” projects that need to be done on our grounds. Maybe you have some need to work the dirt.  Individuals or individual families will be given instructions, tools, and materials and will work by themselves.  Some of these include working with DNA specific plants, like transplanting ferns, and others are more about the hardscape….mulching the new front steps, repainting signs, assembly of a new shed, and many more. Work will typically be done 10 to 2 Monday thru Friday, on whichever day you sign up for. Joe has a key to let you into the building to use the facilities. But to do the work, it has to be scheduled with Joe ahead of time.
   Before I drove away,  I asked why he called a Silver Dogwood a shrub, it was to me, a tree. He said, “Yes, but it’s all understory, growing under the big stuff.” “Hmm,” I replied.
     What I knew in that moment was that this understory, this planting and growing and labor and people working together yet apart, is happening everywhere and right here, all under a vastly larger landscape, not of trees but of a virus, but also maybe something else we can’t quite see yet.
      Thank goodness for the understory. It is what will save us.
      Drop Joe a line.

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