Nature Notes – Autumn 2012

Greg ArmstrongMain, Nature Notes, Volunteers Leave a Comment

Volunteers at Community Workday, September 2012


After coming through one of the worst droughts since the dust bowl years of the 1930s, we have finally gotten some rain. Clearly it is still inadequate to compensate for the precipitation deficit, but plants and I’m sure many animals are benefiting from the rare moisture. One of the interesting things that you might note from looking at the prairies at Holy Wisdom Monastery is that most of the plants have survived and look much better than the corn and soybeans in the fields of Dane County. Prairie plants have “learned” through evolution that drought conditions happen now and again, and have a very deep root system which favors the survival of their kind. Clearly these plants are stunted in their growth, and Paul Boutwell, groundskeeper at Holy Wisdom Monastery, has noted that the seed productivity is reduced in comparison to a more normal year. However, they have survived to embellish the landscape in the future and will be able to have “babies” to ensure the next generation will carry on the good work of living.

There have been several volunteer outdoor work projects at the monastery this summer and fall. These work projects are very important to help with the ecological restorations on monastery lands. In the current situation where virtually all of the lands surrounding the monastery are disturbed from an ecological perspective, it is crucial that we continue to be good stewards of this land. By doing so, we help develop the diversity of species which sustains healthy prairies. Paul is the only person on the staff who is currently doing this good work, and as a result, he clearly needs lots of volunteer stewards. Included in the mix of volunteers, he is also looking for individuals with the knowledge and ability to help with the supervision of other volunteers. Paul just can’t do it by himself, although I know he wants to. I don’t know anyone that cares more deeply. So, if you want to be a volunteer steward and help us to care for the complexity and beauty of the creation at the Holy Wisdom Monastery, I hope you will get in touch with Jill at 608-836-1631, x108 to see how you can help. I guess I will not be so presumptuous as to assume what God wants, but it does seem to me that this is God’s work. Please come and help.

Donations can also help to offset the costs of maintaining the prairie. There are many expenses for supplies, such as prairie seeds and tools. If you want to support the restoration of the prairie, please consider donating to our Care for the Earth fund on our website.

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