South Beloit, Illinois | May 2, 2015 | By Therese Oldenburg

Nature and the Confluence South Beloit Oak Tree Planting (2)

Planting Black Oaks for a future generation to enjoy at the confluence.

We’re working to bring new life and energy to the land where the Rock River and Turtle Creek meet, the confluence. And on this day, we were doing it one tree at a time.

For the fifth year in a row, the Rock River Trail Initiative (RRTI) distributed 10,000 trees in the 11 counties of the Rock River, April 22-24. Chad Pregracke, president of Living Lands and Waters’ One Million Trees program, has donated these trees to the Rock River Trail Initiative and our river. Read more about the Rock River Trail tree project.

Nature and the Confluence South Beloit Oak Tree Planting (1)

Digging holes along the Rock River.

Nature at the Confluence picked up 50 black oak saplings to plant along the river and creek right at the confluence. Talk about hard work! There is 7-10 feet of industrial fill in that area, including foundry sand. A lot of rocks, broken glass and other debris make digging a hole big enough for even a small sapling difficult.

We persevered and got 20 of the largest saplings planted. The rest will be going into a raised bed nursery to spend the summer growing a bit more before planting in the fall.

Nature and the Confluence South Beloit Oak Tree Planting (3)

Planting “Mike’s tree” in honor of Mike Duffy.

I planted one of the black oaks right at the spot where I took a picture of South Beloit Mayor Mike Duffy just a week before he passed away in June 2014. Mike was very excited about the Nature at the Confluence project and he was proud to invite the public down to see the beautiful spot on the river at the inaugural “Meet Me At The Confluence” event held June 13-14, 2014.

While digging the hole for “Mike’s” tree I unearthed an intact shot glass. I thought that was positive sign that Mike was toasting this project from the “other side”. After planting that tree and giving it a drink of water, I asked Mike to watch over it. It will truly be a miracle if these trees grow and thrive in this poor soil, but we hope for the best!

Today, before heading out to plant the trees, I read the Beloit Daily News and found this poem written by John Kalkirtz, recently retired executive director of the Grinnell Hall senior center in Beloit.  I think it’s very appropriate to share it here.

Grandma’s Wisdom by John Kalkirtz

Life is of balance. Look to nature. See the trees.

Green leaves give us oxygen, shade and shelter. Green leaves randomly fall to the ground.

They decay. They return to the earth. The cycle of life continues.

We may ask as to why the leaf must fall? The answer comes in the whisper of the wind. It is time.

We are of nature. We have gifts to share with one another. We are a part of the balance and harmony of life.

When one soul leaves this life and enters. All are one in the harmony of life. We are one.

Reprinted from Beloit Daily News, May 2, 2015

Nature and the Confluence South Beloit Oak Tree Planting 4

Mike’s Mighty Oak and the shot glass.