Our land stewards work really hard. They are the ones who are hands-on. They have been tireless in their work at Cheshire Land Trust's Fresh Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary property. In the past year, the property has benefited from an Eagle Scout replacement bridge to the Ridge Trail, we have a dedicated group of stewards signed up to mow this summer, work has been done throughout the property and a team of stewards have been steadfastly renovating the dry meadow off the Mill River trail.
The stewards work in most weather. It can be broiling heat with strong sunshine, or chilly and overcast with a lively wind. We leave looking like we've been through it all and feeling it, too.
We work really hard. So, the other day after putting in four hours of sweaty, back-breaking work, I didn't just pop into the car and leave. Instead, I collected my tools, put them away and then went back in for a walk.
I wandered up to the wildflower meadow in the northern part of the property. The wildflowers in this section were planted almost as soon as we took title to the property. That was in 1985. CLT members also continued with successive plantings, including milkweed the past couple of years.
Here in early June, Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Smooth Penstamon (Penstemon digitalis), along with Oxeye daisies (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum/Leucanthemum vulgare) and various other blooming plants offer themselves to a surprising number of bees, shimmery dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies. Yes, that includes Monarchs!
Making my way into the thick of it, I stood perfectly still, immersed in tall grass and flowers and just took it all in. There were more birds than I expected. I am not a birder, but know cardinals and goldfinches, and, I believe I spotted tree swallows and others (various warblers, vireos and songbirds).
I could not believe how busy the pollinators were, and how many there were. I watched one bee stuff himself into the trumpet of a flower over and over again. It was hilarious. And who knew butterflies were so fast. Blink and they've moved on ---- a yard away and more!
I stayed standing there for about a half-hour, only deciding to leave when I felt a change in the weather: the wind picking up and the skies becoming overcast. When I first came into the meadow, I was sore, sweaty and tired. My feet hurt. My back ached. Now, though, I felt refreshed and invigorated.
My point was made. Work hard. Be driven to your goal. But in doing so, don't let it become an endless grind of work. Take the time to rest and enjoy.
It's also made me more aware of how really lucky we are to have this little slice of "wild nature" available to all of us. Take the time to stop what you're doing and appreciate its restorative powers.