As I have previously mentioned on here, Kylander is located in a more secluded section of campus yet blatant signs of the man-made world still surround him: the main street through Carlisle in the front, an alleyway in the back, and campus buildings around all sides. Even though he is far away from the more distracting noises that I encounter every day at Dickinson, sitting by him does not provide the same experience as camping in the middle of a forest would.
Resultantly, it can be challenging for me to form a connection with the natural world when I am constantly being distracted by man-made annoyances. In my previous post, I talked about biking through and hearing trucks driving through town while on my way to spend time with Kylander. Needless to say, I can still hear them rumbling down the street while sitting with him. During a time of year when I’m quite stressed and like to think of my time with my tree as a time to detox from this, it is very disconcerting to hear them so nearby–not the same as being reminded of my stress by every friend I have worrying about their own workloads, but still not as refreshing as a weekend camping would be. Absent from Kylander’s spot is the sound of other students though, either because they do not carry well or they are drowned out by the ever-present trucks. Sometimes I can hear footsteps through the parking lot behind admissions, both because of its closer proximity and the louder clicks of high heels hitting the ground. These admissions workers are often walking alone though, so I can sit for an hour without hearing a conversation; something not possible at many other places around campus.
Not that conversation is a bad thing–I usually love it, even when connecting with nature. Over the weekend, I went camping with some friends and we spent the entire time chatting around a makeshift fire place we had to make when some unfriendly fellow campers were unexpectedly on the grounds at which we originally planned on staying. For me, the difference between this experience and my time spent with Kylander lies in the fact that in the forest, the things I’m trying to escape become invisible while when I am sitting with my tree, I can walk a few steps to the right and be staring directly at the library where I will be spending my entire night reading. Sure enough, every time I have to leave an extended trip into the woods I feel a sense of dread knowing that all of the stressed that was forgotten during that time will probably return within a few days. That being said, my stress-free camping trip was not the same for all of my friends: they were awaken in terror by a coyote howling a few feet away from our campsite. Ironically, I slept through all this because of one of the luxuries of human society I brought into the woods with me: earplugs.
The natural sounds at Kylander are far less fearsome than a coyote–in fact, I don’t even see a squirrel in the area because just like Kylander, all of the trees nearby are too small to provide anything for animals. I can however hear them scurrying around nearby periodically. The natural sound that stands out the most for me is that of the wind blowing through the leaves. Not only does it provide relief from the continued warm days; this week it causes some colorful leaves to fall to the ground, creating even more rustling. When I bike home this week, there are blankets of yellow leaves all around campus rather than in just one parking lot.