Weeknotes 20: Shovelling

  • Well well, another long time between posts
  • This weekend I spent a lot of time shovelling.
  • On Saturday CP, Bella and I met up with the Friends of Parkwood Springs to fix up the new entrance at Standish Way which will bring people into the new tracks that are being built on the former landfill. Afterwards CP and I talked a little about the nature of the mud and the ‘matter out of place’ (Douglas) of the dirt we shovelled from the tarmac entrance and steps running up to the higher part of the park, and the litter that the others in the group carefully collected being mindful to not disturb any ground nesting birds. Another volunteer brought delicious pistachio macaroons (sp?) to share. It was a satisfying morning, and though I would tend towards a clean park/pathways scepticism, there was something about looking after this particularly neglected part of the path/park that felt like a positive action.
  • On Sunday I did a solid mornings shovelling with Ride Sheffield on the Steel City track in Greno Woods. Started by clearing/separating out the top layer of sticky mud from the track’s surface. Again this was a strange experience separating out two different layers and types of dirt (the mud in the wrong place) to reveal ‘the gold’ underneath. We filled lots of wheel barrows with surface and I fixed up a berm/shark fin around half way down. I was very proud of it and how sculpted I managed to get the leading edge, but I don’t expect it will last long when the track re-opens. Doing this brought to mind the constant maintenance to keep these places going, and the invisible labour behind them — for me it was brought to the front of my mind as my arms went to jelly from ‘slapping’ in the final layer. After that I joined another group finishing off a new berm which was being put in to stop people coming out of a corner too fast and crashing into a tree. Again there was reference to ‘the gold’ which we ‘mined’ from a pit near to the track and wheelbarrowed over, with the especially good stuff reserved for the top layer. Before we left we filled the ‘mine’ back in and covered it with bracken and some branches to make it ‘less obvious’. As we were doing this I wondered what the ecological merits were (to my mind this could become a pond and could be a great way of supporting other species in the woods), and how much we were privileging human aesthetic concerns over what the ‘mine’ could become, and what it might mean to disturb the bracken and understory.
  • Finished the day off with a few laps in of DH3 and some bits around Wharny. I came back home with nicely calloused hands (and have started scanning them as a kind of research diary).
  • The last few weeks have been a bit strange, I started my new job on a strike day, and then had a good week of induction meetings, more strikes, and then a week on holiday. Back to strikes again last week.
  • Before going away I made some visits to Wharncliffe and Wombwell Woods and managed to do a bit of drawing and documentation. I won’t copy-pasta all of my field notes here, but am building a collection of these in other places to be processed later.
  • I wrote a proposal for EASA to do with walking and access.

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