[caption id="attachment_130" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Volunteers behind Phil Goodwin are planting shrubs on a wetland by the Don River."][/caption] Phil Goodwin is a publisher, and as a naturalist, a passionate supporter of the Don River. Flowing south through Toronto into Lake Ontario, the Don, like many rivers in Canadian cities has been in pretty rough shape over the last many decades. Deforestation, development, industry, pollution, carelessness and simple neglect have turned the river from a place to swim and catch salmon to a run of water in great need of recussitation. Goodwin, tall and with an engaging smile is a key figure with the East Don Parkland Partners, the organization working to bring back the Don. While the health of the whole Don is Goodwin's passion, he and his supporters have taken on the replanting along a stretch of the river south of Cummer Avenue in North York. And that's where I headed on Saturday with my sister Janey Davis to help Goodwin's neighbours, friends, locals, colleagues, interested students and a whole Scout troop to plant native shrubs on a newly recreated meadow and wetland. In early June, Goodwin will again assemble a group of volunteers to plant wild flowers and herbaceous plants in the same area.The Partners work with staff from the parks department who position the shrubs and trees, and bring the shovels, gloves for all size hands from kids to big and burly, mulch to keep the ground around the newly planted species moist, and planting know-how. There may be a better way to spend a spring Saturday, but I've yet to find it. Saturday was cool and slightly overcast - perfect for planting. The one thing I thought I could provide besides the energy to plant, was homemade cookies to keep the planters energized. I chose Oatmeal Cookies found on page 35 of The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book (Transcontinental Books, $34.95). Because the group was big, my sister and I made two batches, one with white chocolate and dried cranberries, the second with pecans and maple chunks I had bought a few weeks ago at a store called Canadian Maple Delights in Old Montreal. Funny thing, just as the last cedar was in the ground, the last cookie went into tummy of one of the young planters. Couldn't be in better places. Tree Planting Oatmeal Cookies These are absolutely delicious oatmeal cookies, and you don't have to plant trees to earn one. I like to add cranberries and white chocolate, but you can accent the dough with any number of interesting add-ins. Raisins or currants are traditional as are chopped walnut halves. Regular chocolate chips of course. In all, your additions should measure about 1-1/2 cups (375 mL). Feel free to add a little cinnamon or nutmeg if you like too. Or, some grated orange rind. 2/3 cup (150 mL) butter, softened 1 cup (250 mL) packed light brown sugar 1 large egg 1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla 1-1/2 cups large-flake rolled oats 1 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each baking powder and baking soda 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt 3/4 cup (175 mL) chopped white chocolate 3/4 cup (175 mL) dried cranberries, dried cherries or raisins . Line 2 large rimless baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease; set aside. . In a large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until fluffy; beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into the butter mixture in 2 additions until blended. Stir in the chocolate and cranberries. . Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Scoop by tablespoons (15 mL) into mounds, set 2-inches (5 cm) apart on prepared baking sheets. Roll each mound into a ball; with a fork, press down to about 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thickness. [caption id="attachment_133" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Rolling the dough into balls rather than just scooping the dough on the baking sheet helps make uniformly round cookies. Press evenly with a fork."][/caption] . Bake in bottom and top thirds of 350°F (180°C) oven until cookies are golden brown underneath and edges are crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Switch and rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking. . Let cookies rest on the baking sheets to firm up, about 3 minutes, before transferring to racks to cool. (Make-ahead: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage - up to 1 month if nobody in the house knows about them.) [caption id="attachment_134" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="Cooling cookies on a rack helps keep them crisp."][/caption] . Makes about 24 cookies. Variation: Pecan Maple Oatmeal Cookies. Replace the cranberries and white chocolate with 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) chopped pecan halves and 1/4 cup (50 mL) maple chunks. [caption id="attachment_135" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="The Oatmeal Cookies look more subtle with the chopped pecans and maple chunks, rice-sized pieces of hard maple sugar. A nice burst of natural maple flavour."][/caption] .