Field Notes 10/29/15

Thursday, October 29, 2015, 01:40 PM:

It’s chilly today, especially with the breeze coming in every now and then. For a late October afternoon however, it is a modest 61 degrees Fahrenheit. In a long sleeve cotton shirt and a fleece vest I am warmer than I would like, and due to the inclement weather of yesterday I was not expecting this warmth upon leaving my dorm room. With that being said, I am not complaining, because I say we should savor the last few warm days we have before the winter hits.

Ash has officially lost all of his leaves. Not a single stem clings onto any of the empty branches protruding from his trunk. However there are two clusters of dead leaves situated in notches where two branches meet. Both of these clusters are a mix of brown and grey, and are not the prettiest part of the view of the tree for certain. They almost look like a nest of some sort, and when I think about it, that is the only logical answer for how the clusters could have appeared in the first place. Maybe there are special types of birds who do not migrate south for the winter, and they utilize the plentiful resources that appear as autumn leaves fall to the ground for their nests. It is also possible that by some miracle of wind and rain these leaves stuck together and appeared in a notch in a tree. As I look at these ugly clusters I hypothesize the nature of their existence, but I may never know the truth.

The leaf bed below Ash’s trunk on the foreground is not as soft and airy as it was days before. Rain has washed out the area creating mud and wetness and because of that, many leaves were displaced. In lieu of the disappearing ash leaves covering the ground, Ash’s neighbor has taken over the property with his mammoth leaves. Across the ground, leaves the size of Frisbees lie damp and droopy. They are greenish-yellow with spots of brown scattered all over.

One leaf trumps the rest in size. It is folded lazily in half and is camouflaged by the surrounding leaves. However, I notice the leaf as my spotlight gaze scans over the area. I walk over and it unfolds into its full size as I pick it up. It’s thick, leathery and damp. Alongside a few of Ash’s lemon sized leaves, it looks monstrous. If I hold it up to my face it covers every feature and could hide my identity from onlookers. Really it is just massive, the biggest leaf I have ever seen.

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Ash looks down on all of these leaves that are seemingly on steroids, and beside him sits the tree from which they originated. This tree, still standing tall with many leaves covering its branches, stares at Ash from across the path. The two trees juxtapose anyone who would walk through their arches. The only thing is, one has leaves and the others do not. It appears that it was an early end to the leaf season for Ash as many other trees still have leaves to account for. Despite his lack of leaves, he looks elderly and wise next to all of the leaf bearing trees. He is ahead of the game, preparing for the winter as if he knows something that all the others do not.

Field Notes. 10/25/15

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October 25, 2015, 5:17 PM. Ash is but a mere silhouette in front of the backdrop that is the evening sky. His branches, sharp and dark, streak across the atmosphere poking through clouds and jet streams along the way. He is stripped bare and clean of the leaves he once bore; he is naked among the elements, yet he stands like a stone, unfazed by his transformation. As he looms over me while the sun sets to the west, his shadow begins to creep closer and closer. He possesses a sense of nobility, almost as if he knows that he has been through this very same life cycle many times before. While I sit here and observe this tree, I wonder if maybe I am the one being observed.

Beneath the branches, at Ash’s feet lies the bed of leaves that has been cumulating in the weeks prior to this day. A sea of tan, beige and burnt orange sits on top of the grass with a few yellow leaves peaking out. At this point most if not all of the leaves have dried out and crinkled into some mangled shape that is anything but leaf-like. I pick out one among the crowd.

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The leaf curls around itself hiding the front face of the leaf. It looks like a Cannoli as it creates a central pipeline leading down towards the stem. The cold breeze rustles the leaves and this particular leave wobbles back and forth. Its curled up nature makes me think that the leave is curling up in preparation for the cold weather. I take a step forward and there is a crunch beneath my feat. There is nowhere to step without coming into contact with any leaves.

The few leaves still clinging onto the tree are the last survivors. One branch has significantly more leaves than any other. It points across Morgan Field and over towards Drayer Hall. These few leaves embrace the true meaning of the “survival of the fittest” motto, but unbeknownst to the leaves, their time will come as well. Regarding my blog for next week, I expect to see much fewer leaves, and possibly none at all.

 

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Never Enough Field Notes!

DATE: Monday, Oct. 26, 2015

LOW:34 degrees F

HIGH: 60 degrees F

TIME: 9:52am

OBSERVED WEATHER CONDITIONS: Brisk & chilly in the morning, sun peeking through clouds. Quite a beautiful day.

APPROX. # OF STUDENTS ON QUAD: 15

SOIL: Bill’s soil is hard and cold this morning. It doesn’t look like a deep shade of brown, but lighter, and flakes easily. The soil is not consistent in texture, but instead looks like a rich combination of soil and mulch. See image 1.

LEAVES: Mostly green with a few brown, crunchy leaves. This confirms that Bill is in fact a deciduous tree. See image 2.

BARK: Coarse. Colors vary from silvers, to reds, to deep, deep browns. Bill seems to have a few freckles – they’re so cute. See image 3.

Image 1.

Image 1.

Image 2.

Image 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 3.

Image 3.

 

 

Fall Pause Leaves Bill Lonely

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Lea meets Bill

As I jetted off to Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago for the Fall break, I forgot to invite Bill. Well, I didn’t really forget, but I did think it might be hard for him to travel on a plane with me. He says that he was only on a plane one time, but it was when he was a sapling and doesn’t quite remember the experience. Maybe he will feel ready to go with me next time. When I returned to campus, I felt badly about leaving him for so long so I decided to introduce him to one of my best friends, Lea. I asked her to give me some “thick descriptions”, since I had previously done my own which descriptions. To be honest, I think she belittled my assignment but she gave me a few quick thoughts. “The tree is obviously young because it’s significantly smaller than the others,” she began. “Bill, that’s what you call him right? Bill’s leaves are a cool shape, with 9 points on most of them, but none have changed colors from the season. Will they change? Is that a characteristic of oaks or are they like evergreen trees?” To be honest, I didn’t really know, so I made a note that I should follow the changes that the leaves go through as the weather changes.

I asked Lea what she thought about Bill and to give me some more descriptions of his surroundings. She said that his soil was dry and solid, but that was probably from the recent rain and then overnight chill. She said she actually recalled meeting Bill her freshman year, and he was always super kind and personable. Though he actually looks younger than before. “I wish the red adirondack chairs were still out, I feel like Bill would like the company,” Lea said, “However, he does have a very nice view of the academic quad and probably sees every student at some point during the day due to his positioning between walkways.”

We couldn’t stay long as we were headed to the Farmers Market but it was nice to catch up with Bill after the break, and introduce him to one of my dearest friends. Also, a friend’s opinion never hurts 😉

9 point leaves

9 point leaves

Fall is Here

After a few strangely warm days in mid October, cool fall weather has arrived in Carlisle. Edgar was telling me how cold it has gotten at night recently and how much he misses the heat of the summer sun. Edgar’s other tree-friends on the academic quad are continuing their transition to winter bareness. Certain trees ate almost completely bare, Edgar still has a decent amount of yellow colored leaves. He tells me that every time the wind blows, he tries his hardest to hold on to the leaves he has left so they don’t fly off and lay sadly on the cold ground.

If you are in the sun, it is still warm enough to sit outside on the adirondack chairs. Edgar says that in the winter he misses when students do their homework outside. He gets more lonely during the long winter months.

The days have also continued to get shorter. As it gets darker earlier, it seems like the nights are never-ending. Pretty soon, as I walk back home from class at 4:30, the sun will be setting. Edgar has trouble with these long nights which are filled with a deep silence except for the occasional car. He tells me that he has no idea how the trees in the forest deal with the darkness, silence and loneliness. He likes human interaction, animal interaction is not enough.

Edgar is clearly a very sensitive tree.

Field Notes: Physical and Spiritual Events

Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 2:00pm While sitting on the green grass in the crisp cool fall air with my giant sequoia, I realized how lonely my tree must feel on Saturday afternoons. Despite inanimate surroundings like buildings, trees, or shrubs and moving parts of our surroundings like the squirrels, birds, or humans, isolation still occurs on a daily basis. There is not a moment in the day when a building or another tree actually notices my giant sequoia. Because my tree has a very limited ability to interact with others (living and non-living), the sequence of events I was able to observe today came from physical changes in my tree’s behavior and deep analysis of my tree’s spirit.

A crisp fall day.

A crisp fall day.

Since a tree’s growth cannot be observed in minutes or even hours, non-developmental movements create some of the most exciting moments in my sequoia’s day, especially during this time of year. I witnessed a series of handshakes between the gentle wind gusts and the branches of my tree where they seemed to have met before so each shake remained brief and confidently forceful. The air grasped several branches with enough force to send a gradual wave-like shiver down the arms of the tree into the trunk. The tree’s structure provides adequate protection and flexibility to the branches to survive these handshakes and other natural forces. The flesh of each green needle grows in a staggered and reinforcing pattern around each limb of the tree which contributes to the tree’s strength against other more powerful forces.

Close-up of the tree's needles.

Close-up of the tree’s needles.

Underneath the needles and the bark, this giant sequoia has a living spirit constantly reacting to the physical conditions of the tree, especially when changes are detected. As my tree adapts to the colder temperatures and the cloudier days, an essential part of its day is time spent visualizing. In order to maintain its health and ability to grow, my tree relies on visualization to feel warm enough to eat, drink, and breathe at times when the weather fails to provide vital warmth and light. I interpreted some of the moments when my tree stood silent and still as visualization sessions where the sequoia was imagining a bright yellow sun and a warm summer breeze to distract itself from the overcast and chilly atmosphere. Of course, not all moments of my tree’s silent and calm existence translated into visualization because I also noticed a deeper need transpiring.

Silent and still.

Silent and still.

After a few cycles of the handshakes and visualization tricks, my sequoia started to sit unusually calm for longer periods of time while a family took portraits on the field behind it. Sometimes the wind would reach out for a handshake and my tree would remain frozen, as if lost in thought. Longing for interaction and comforting warmth from others, my tree sat frozen for the majority of my time with it. Not only did my tree desire to gain attention but it also lacked the feeling of being wanted and needed by others. Unlike the trees behind the sequoia that played important roles in each of the photographs that the family took, my tree remained distanced from them and as a result, irrelevant to them.

fall days

Its a brisk 45 degree day as i sit down along side Albert. Me being from California, I was bundled up in leggings, boots, longs sleeves  and sweatshirt as i was terribly cold. You would think after 3 years i would be used to the cold weather but i am not.  I brought a blanket to sit on as i thought the ground would be cold which is was. As i set the blanket down, i notice a squirrel that was trying to hid his acorn over by Albert. As i sprawled out my blanket on the ground  he lookmytreeed at me and quickly hurried away. The squirrels on Dickinson campus are so strange and odd as normally when you walk over to them they hurry off but here they just stare at you and make you feel super uncomfortable.  Fortunately not this one, which i like so i didn’t mind him planting his acorn near Albert. As i begin to unpack my lunch from my bag, i really took in the peaceful atmosphere as no one was really outside- probably because it was so cold but thats beside the point.

As i lay on the blanket, lunch in hand i look up into the sky. I gazed upon the clouds and saw what appeared to look like a volleyball. As i saw that i smiled as i began to get excited as i am going to Boston next week to see my sister play for her senior game in College. I began to overcome with emotions as i would finally get to see my mom after not being able to see her for a couple months! while sitting their though i ponder the thought if Albert misses his family in Kentucky?

Albert sat their swaying his branches as the wind picked up at this point which i took for an indication of him trying to tell me he does miss his family. I lay there comforting Albert and knew that we could depend on each other to be the other ones family while we were here in Carlisle. As i was done with my lunch i crinkled up the bag and threw it in my backpack as their was no trash can near me. After i just sat their for a few moremeandalbert minutes taking everything and really let everything go and my mind came to ease. As i packed up, thanked Albert and started walking away i notice the squirrel again and saw that he came back to Albert. i began thinking, maybe they are friends and the Albert does to him what he does for me which is to be there to listen and allows you to escape the realities of who you actually and what you want to be. In any case, Albert the tall being he is will always be there which is always comforting to hear!

ttyl,

Alexis

Describing Earnest

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Its early evening, about an hour before the sun sets. The sky is entirely clear blue, only separated by the occasional wisp of white cloud lazily making its way across the land. With the sun dropping lower every minute, long shadows begin to encompass every inch of the ground, the silent battle between light and dark goes unnoticed by the passing-by students. The air is a comfortable temperature with most students choosing a long-sleeved jumper with either shorts or light pants. It is a still evening, with barely a whisper from the wind.
As I make my way across High Street towards Earnest, I thank the crossing guard for his work and in response I receive a slight tip-of-the-hat in acknowledgement. Morgan field looks absolutely stunning, with the suns’ low rays reaching through the tree tops to create a kaleidoscope effect 30 ft. above ground. By now a large portion of the trees have begun to see changes in their leaf color. An array of greens, reds, oranges, and yellows bombard my peripheral vision while the constant crunching of leaves underfoot remind me of the temporal beauty of Fall.

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Earnest sits patiently awaiting my return. Today he looks in fine form. His weathered face greets me with the usual kindness I have come to expect from my silent, yet stoic friend. His skin has taken on a deep chestnut color around the base, while further up his inconsistent tone enables a mixture of vibrant dark-green, with a light cream-color to combine. The leaves towards the base of the tree have been the slowest to turn, while those at the top have already accepted their fate and begun the journey towards winter-life. However there is not a whole lot of leaves at his base relative to other trees in the vicinity.
A squirrel franticly climbs up Earnest’s back in order to reach a knob in the tree where he seems to keep all of his hoarded treasure. It’s bushy tail is all i can see while he digs through his collection of goodies. A Chinese girl walks past wearing baggy light-blue jeans, a warm pink hoodie, white and red nike shoes, and large black headphones blocking her from reality. She does not pay Earnest the slightest bit of attention on her way towards the Malcolm building.
As I sit here watching the last rays of light leave me, I see a bird come to rest on one of Earnest’s branches. And I realize that while we may not pay him much attention, those that matter still do.

 

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Silence

Today I sat at the base of Earnest with nothing except my thoughts, and myself with special focus on the sounds surrounding the two of us.

 

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Immediately I made a startling realization that I could not hear nature. While I may be able to see it and feel it all around me, I could shut my eyes and not know whether I am in New York city or Carlisle. The reason this alarmed me so much was because I did not associate Carlisle with the hustle bustle of the city-life. However with my senses limited to sound alone, I realized my entire perspective of the college was a little skewed.

After my initial speed-bump I really tried to focus in on specific sounds, such as people walking past me and their conversations. I heard one girl giving a rather detailed account of her night-time adventures with one lucky lacrosse player. I also felt somewhat creepy listening to people’s conversations, but I could not help it as the brick wall kept me out of sight of pedestrians. However it was not just the people that I could hear. The most prominent noise was the consistent rumble of cars rolling past, not just moving but rather I could hear them accelerating and also that cringe sound of cars braking.

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There were a few moments in my, approx. 20 minute, stay that man-made sounds were at a minimum and I was able to hear some birds singing, and the occasional brave squirrel trying to find the perfect spot to bury its precious treasure. The most pleasant sounds were not made by any single organism, but rather a collective group of organisms, that we have called nature. I am talking about the wind. It was the only noise not polluted by man. It has the ability to direct and re-direct any noise at will, it can permeate any object and is the purest form of noise because it blocks out any other noise. When hearing is all you have, it feels like a blanket of white noise engulfing your world in its generous embrace.
After my hearing experiment I found a few things out. Firstly, that I do not enjoy the majority of sounds I hear around campus. Secondly, that I did not realize these negative sounds have been around me all the time and I have only just realized. Its like when you hear a repetitive rift in a good song, and no matter how much you try all you can hear from that point on is that annoying repetitive rift. Finally, I found that wind is like a safety blanket for acoustics.

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Screeching tires, violent braking

Heavy foot, acceleration taking

Jibber jabber, useless conversation

Eavesdropping, feeling your sensation

Hustle bustle, forever a commotion

A silent listener, hearing all emotion

Lips sealed, wounds healed

A world with no vision.

Field notes with my Tree

First off, I have taken field notes only a couple times in a prior environmental science class, but have not gone into such thick description before. I really enjoyed the experience of being as attentive as possible; it made it easer to take notes down first than to write my blog right after.

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It is about 6:30, I have only about 30 minutes left of sunlight left on a Tuesday night, and it is one of first chilly nights on campus. I am bundled up and sitting beside my tree on Morgan field with a coffee and my pen and paper. All of the trees leaves are slowly changing colors as they always due during fall. To my back is Allison hall and the law school along with a large parking lot, which is very noisy at this time for some reason. I hear a car alarm go off for at least 5 minutes, which is beginning to give me a headache. To my right is Adams and Drayer hall; they are both very busy at this time. Students are walking in and out of their dorms going to and from dinner at the cafeteria. I even heard a girl say to her friend “the caf sucks tonight”. After hearing that I did not attend the cafeteria. Morgan hall does not seem nearly as busy as Drayer and Adams; I can count on two hands the amount of people coming in and out. In front of me is Morgan Field; it is beautiful at this time at night with only a little bit of sun left shining on the leaves.

My tree is looking dull at this time of year; the colors have not changed on the leaves at all except to the color brown due to the dead branches. My tree has lost so many leaves at this point I can see all the way through it while looking straight up from the trunk. This was not the case weeks ago when my tree was full of life and branches. For the first time, I cam not see any squirrels or birds in or around my tree, I can only assume that this is the case because it is nearing nighttime.

I am hearing many students and their conversations as they walk to Adams hall. I am not eaves dropping by any means, but I can hear them clear as day. Many students are talking about how much work they have this week and how they wont be able to get it done. Others are talking about how excited they are for fall pause and even a group of girls are discussing what they want to wear out tonight. I kept hearing students long boarding down Morgan field, I could hear the wheels on the pavement and can even determine how fast they are going depending on the sound. It is a great night for sitting outside by my tree and just observing.