The Sky Through the Leaves

There are two situations in which I think best, and both situations are best for very different types of thinking. The first place I think best is in Tome. As a math major, Tome is home. With all the whiteboards and computers with different math programs on them, it really is the best place to do homework or study for an exam. Even if I have non-math homework, I typically do my work in Tome. I also usually work with my friend, Cody. When we do work together, we feed off of each other’s energy and typically are able to think better.


Working on math homework in Tome

The second place I think best is at home with the Dog House dogs. As the Dog Coordinator of Dog House, I have a lot of responsibilities and work to do. Generally when I am going over interaction forms or coming up with new schedules, working at home with the dogs right next to me inspires me to stay motivated. Also being with the dogs obviously makes me think about them, so it’s easier to stay focused on them and their needs.


SSD Rico (left) and SSD Olive (right), the two current Dog House dogs

Still, when I’m thinking about Mariposa, it is easiest to be with her, and I find that when I am with her, I notice so many things about nature and the environment I inhabit that I don’t normally realize. As I sat with Mari the other day, I wrote down some observations about our environment and about Mari:

As I sit on the rock next to Mari’s skinny trunk, I look up and admire the blue sky and the white clouds. I notice many of her leaves are filled with holes, assumingly bitten by bugs. I lay down and watch the clouds through her leaves, thankful that the sun is out today and that it is warm enough to get by in a t-shirt. A slow breeze ruffles Mari’s leaves and tickles my skin, raising the hair on my arms and sending a slight shiver down my spine as my body attempts to keep itself warm. The sound of laughter travels to my ears from the Trellis as some students eat their sandwiches from the Quarry. I sit back up and watch as a few cars pass by on the street, and then I turn back to look at Mari. Her leaves have not yet been touched by autumn and almost seem greener than the first time I met her. Her bark is smooth to the touch and the fuzzy bud coverings scattered throughout her leaves are soft. As I pack up my things and walk away, I notice her leaves waving slightly in the wind, as if waving goodbye to me.


The he sky through Mari’s leaves

Observing a Human Built Environment

As an Environmental Studies major, I have come to understand the importance of appreciating nature through observation. It’s the little things about nature that make one think about how beautiful and majestic it can be. Before Dickinson College, I never took nature as an important aspect of my life; I simply enjoyed it for what it had to offer in terms of recreational activities, but not observing its movements. Now, I sit here on this bench, observing Sycamo. I must thank my previous class, Buddhism and the Environment, for developing my observational skills, meditation, and pushing myself to be closer with nature.

Yet, after taking that class, I find myself being able to pay the most attention in a quiet room listening to studying music on YouTube. Sometimes I listen to white noise, as it allows to me to focus more on the task at hand and not be distracted by other forms of music that have bass, snares, vocals, and a catchy melody.

Sitting under my tree, I realize how difficult it is for me to focus with so much noise and movement around me. Students walk down the academic quads, laughing and yelling. Cars roaring by. Birds chirping as they sit on the massive trunks of Sycamo. A student speeds by on a long board, similar to a cheetah sprinting to go home. Multiple squirrels are scattered on the grass are looking for food, while I am sitting here, thinking about where I should go buy my next meal. How easy we have it as a humans with feeding ourselves in a developing country. We are privileged to have many things ready for us. In nature, there is no such thing as prepared meals for its inhabitants. You must work for the spoils of nature. These squirrels must work for their food. Another car accelerates by, this time with an even louder and menacing tone.

All the noise pollution derives from a human built environment. Leopold operated in a similar manner with observing nature in detail and writing down his observations. Yet, he wrote in a notebook, whereas I am typing my observations in a laptop. He experienced true nature with minimal human interaction; meanwhile I am in a human built environment that has far more noises than Leopold’s observations.

Tuesdays with Albert

Its a Tuesday morning in beautiful Carlisle. The sun is shining, people are walking to class; in a particularly slow fashion as it is the beginning of the week. I set my bag down as i sit under old Albert. Of course Albert greets me as he shades me from the sun as he always does. it is about 70 which is a beautiful day and i look up to the sky and watched the birds fly by. albert

I knew it was going to be a good day as when looking up to the sky i saw a cloud which looked like it was smiling in a way. It was about 1230 now as people we coming out of class and the mood switched from doom and gloom and and upbeat feel. This made me feel great as the energy was really making me vibe with Albert.

As I open my eyes, i grab my phone and turn on some music. i was trying to find the best music to compliment my mood and i obviously choose Jack Johnson radio which match my mood very well. the first song that came on was upside down and it was like Albert liked it too as i saw his branches swaying in the wind.

As a get up and to disembark on the rest of my day i bid Albert a farewell and tell him i see him after fall pause. When i get up and grab my bag i see that leaves are getting a bit bear and makes me excited i know fall is approaching us and that means it is almost Thanksgiving time.

well that’s all for now,


look listen FEEL


Dickinson college students walk across campus every day and hardly think about their surroundings, I included in that. May be they notice the weather, but only if it particularly warm or pouring rain. Maybe they notice the trees a few days in the fall because of their bright colors. Or maybe it’s the first day the grass looks green in the spring. But for the most part we walk through the world relative unaware of our natural surroundings, minds on classes, eyes on phones, ears trained on our classmates as we talk on the way to class. Rarely do we step back and take in what’s around us.

As I walk across the academic quad, from ballet class towards my house, I see students heading to dinner, a women walks her dog, and it is mostly quite. College campuses on Thursdays at 6 pm tend to be very quiet. Students are at dinner, in meetings, playing sports or already in the library studying, especially as fall grows colder and colder as the sun goes down, you see less and less human life out and about. I pulled a red chair under my tree and looked up. I noticed that the leaves on my tree, still purple and green, did not match the trees around it. The others had started to change. Bright yellows and reds, still mixed with shades of green. My tree showed no signs of fall. Sandy held on to summer a lot better than I did. Here I was at school, reflecting on all my work, how the air was growing cold, and how very soon shorts really would be pushing it. Whereas my tree, Sandy, looked the same as she did, the first day of school. She held on to summer and clung to her sessional colors, while I drifted in to the school year, and clung on the all the stress that came with it.

Then I looked down. I saw brown leaves littering he ground. I did not hear them move when the wind blew. They were dead but not dry. Soaked form the perpetual rain of Carlisle PA, they stuck to the wide ring of mulch under my tree. But when the wind blew I did hear the sound of the wind bending branches and moving the leaves above. Drops of water fell form the tree and covered the notebook I had out in little drops of water. The wind was like a blow dryer and the leaves like a girl’s long hair, my notebook was like the bathroom floor on a Monday morning, covered in drops of water after a shower, as she rushes to get ready. My tree was not in a rush. It was never in a rush

As I listened again I heard noise pollution only. I did not hear birds, the sounds of little squirrels, I heard a train horn from the direction of the Kline, cars on high street hitting the gas as the light turned green, I heard a car door slam from the parking lot by Denny hall. I heard nothing that had to do with my tree. I only heard the busy lives of the people that surrounded my tree.

As I took a deep breath in I smelled nothing out of the ordinary. Just the smell of wet grass. This made me nervous. After reflecting on the cars and traffic and lack of nature, shouldn’t I smell all of the gas these cars are omitting as they wiz by during rush hour? Has my nose gone blind to the smell of population? I don’t think my tree has gone blind to it’s effects.

In some of my last blog posts, I personified my tree and gave her a lot of human like qualities. My tree had a life, and friends, a home, she liked to run and play, she got sick, but was saved. I want to take that back. My tree is nothing like a person. It doesn’t rush to class oblivious of what’s around it, it doesn’t rush to do anything. It lives in the moment and reacts in direct responses to the things around it. It doesn’t wiz by in cars that give off toxins, it doesn’t move at all. It doesn’t stare at its phone or complain about the rain. It listens and looks and lives in the world directly around it. It is forced to live and be impacted by the lives of everyone around it, whereas people have the power to make that impact, trees just live with it.

Dickinson College Class of 2017

Maggie Dougherty


8:30 on a Monday isn’t good for anyone

tree 8Where is think best:

With music (when it’s not dead quite)

On sitting on the floor

When I am alert

After a cup of coffee


After breakfast I left the caf and walked across the academic quad. After making the list of “where I think best” I decided that the only time that would make sense for me to look at my tree was in the morning. I had just had my coffee, therefore I was relatively alert, and 8:30am was a good time because the quad is not quite. Filled with zombie like students, rushing to their 8:30 class, I say rushing because, everyone is late for 8:30s. I sat down on the mulch under my tree, and immediately regretted written that “I think best when I am sitting on the floor”. By floor I meant my living room floor, my bed room floor, on floors that don’t have ants, or mud, or things that stick to my pants.


Under the tree the ground was wet, form the dew, the dirty was soft and a bit cold. The wood chips, put there, by the gardeners, were soft. The bent easily between my fingers. Ants crawled all over the base of the tree. This confused me because I thought it might be too cold for ants in the first week of august.


When I look up I see that the branches don’t start for many feet. They start at about ten feet of the ground and arch down. If I was standing I could touch the leaves. The braches reach out very far. The diameter of the tree, branch tip to truck is about 20 feet.


The trunk is smooth. The bark is like skin. It grows up the tree in one piece, no brakes or bumps. Its more of a gray color then a brown color.


Field Notes From a Giant Sequoia Part One: Me & My Home

Beautiful sun shining day.

Beautiful sun shining day.

October 11, 2015 4:15pm Dickinson College Morgan Field, Carlisle, PA On a clear, sunny, mildly warm day, I find myself in great company with students, children and their families, adults, and animals (mainly squirrels). The great paved walking path separates me from the main lawn so, from yards away, I observe the studiers, readers, talkers, laughers, photographers, commuters, runners, nappers, and those of us more permanent residents. Humans seldom approach me but I can tell by the beaten path of dead grass and packed dirt in front of me that they travel across the lawn where I live frequently. I am yards away from the steps of Allison Hall, about a quarter of a football field away from a residence hall, and about half a football field away from the closest public street where cars pass daily. The buildings, or towering giants, I stare at everyday have matching grey stone exteriors, many windows, and multiple doors. Students trickle in and out of both buildings and stroll down the path appearing quite calm and content as the sun continues to set. Despite my proximity to the modern world, I live in a fairly undisturbed corner of campus with comfortable space to breathe in.


My neighbors.

My neighbors.

Although I live among several trees, none of them encroach on my personal space. My closest neighbors have taller and wider shadows than me but their shadows don’t shade my branches. I notice the following today: very few dead brown leaves covering the ground, red and purple berries ripening, and the changing colors of the leaves from green to red, orange, or yellow. Some of my taller, older tree neighbors have grown long branches that reach outward, gently sloping downward showing gravity’s toll on their bodies. We all look grander and happier today because the grass is soft, lush, and bright green for the most part. The combination of the picturesque cloudless day and the well-maintained lawn certainly showcases my better features.




My trunk and needles.

My trunk and needles.

I have grown into one of the most recognizable shapes in America: a Christmas tree! With my thin milky brown trunk and my fine asparagus green needles, I look particularly healthy. Even the small circle of greyish brown mulch around my trunk sparkles in the sunlight today. I have soft little green, husk-like needles covering my entire body and they all point up and away from me. The bottom portion of my trunk still has rough bark attached to it but the upper half of my trunk has a smoother texture and reflects more sunlight as a result. The visible gaps between my branches expose my semi-bare trunk in the direct sunlight. I tend to feel less of the breeze than I think my fellow arbres (trees) do because my branches allow more wind to pass through them and I have a much lower center of gravity. The wind has shaken me twice in fifteen minutes but I stand sturdy and enjoy partial protection from the grassy hill adjacent from my spot on the lawn. If only everyday could look and feel this good.

Field Notes Numero Uno


It is a warm autumn day and the sun is glaring down at my tree. The clouds look like bubbles in the sky and I argue that it is one of the more beautiful days in Carlisle this year. I perch my skateboard up against the tree as I sit two feet away where the not so green grass meets the not so brown dirt. There is minimal wind and everything in Morgan Field seems calm.IMG_1329

I look up at my tree and notice the leaves. Unlike some other trees, the leaves have not begun to fall, but looks as though it is time. The color of it’s smaller leaves are turning yellow, especially at the top. The leaves are still very smooth and it’s green leaves still contain some moisture within them. The Hophornbeam is known for conserving water which is why Isabel’s leaves are still colorful rather then shriveling up like her neighbors.


I stand up andIMG_1328 walk towards my skateboard. I notice that the bark varies along the trunk. It is as if someone has been peeling Isabel’s bark off. Isabel has brown patches along her body and yellow patches where bark has peeled off. The brown is only the outer layer and her trunk still remains strong yet slim.

I see one of my friends in the distance walking his dog. His family is in town and brought the new puppy along with it. They come over to me and the dog’s tail is profusely rocking back and forth as I pet his stomach. His yellow fur hangs off his body similar to Isabel’s leaves but he is soft so I focus on the puppy for a couple minutes. My friends leave and I jokingly apologize to Isabel. I look at my watch and realize that I am late for Econ class. I pick up my skateboard and roll away on the leaf covered  sidewalk.

A Day In The Life of Pop

Journal Entry #3

Today I decided to let Pop do the talking. I wanted to tell you all a bit about his life and what he has been through but I feel as though it would be better if he told you the story himself.

Hi! My name is Pop and I live right on the pathway on the closest pathway to Bosler from College street. I have only been alive for a little over a decade but I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff here at Dickinson. I have seen the countless changing of seasons and thousands of students walking past on their way to class. I have come to recognize their faces. I saw the day our country was changed forever as the twin towers came down onto the streets of New York City. I saw a campus racked with grief in the aftermath. I then saw a campus come together to heal and support each other. I have seen the march on campus where students came together to protest the sexual violence policy. They made great strides that day for our community and now other colleges are following suit. I went through super storm Sandy and lived to tell the tale! Power was out campus wide and everyone was sequestered in their rooms for about 4 days. The wind was howling and I was having trouble staying rooted. Several inches of rain fell and the ground was water logged. My family and friends on the East coast were hit very hard and some towns were left bogged down but we made it through. Earlier this year year I decided to be part of a program where trees around campus are paired with a student. In September, I had the privilege of meeting the person behind this blog (she literally ran into me, that’s how we met). It was a wonderfully sunny day and I was very near to the end on this list of trees in the program. I was starting to grow weary after a good while but finally a group of student arrived and I was so excited to meet my new friend. She was the one looking up into the sky at the clouds and I tried to warn her but she ran into me anyway. It was quite comical actually. From then on we have been fast friends. So that was my life story in a nut shell. Hopefully I’ll get to talk to you all again soon!

With love,


How old am I?

I asked Sycamo, “How old are you?” To which he gave a blank expression, hoping I would have the answer. Based on his diameter, height, and overall presence of Sycamo, I told him he was 21 years young with much to learn like myself.

In 1994, Sycamo was raised in the soil of Dickinson College near Bosler Hall. He was blessed enough to see many generations of Dickinson students graduate and walk down the steps of Old West. Along with witnessing graduations year after year, he saw the community of Dickinson change as some faculty retired, others earned tenure, and new professors were given opportunities to teach at Dickinson College. He saw first hand the development of a community over time, the changes in fashion, the introduction of advanced technology, and many other 21st century inventions. I too witnessed the change in

Sycamore was present during saddening events such as the 1995 heat wave in Chicago, Columbine in 1999 and then the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. To have lived through during the years in which these events occurred is remarkable with myself being too young to neither remember or comprehend what was occurring. I cannot even begin to imagine how students reacted to these events.

On a lighter note, Sycamore has lived a comfortable life with Dickinson College ground facilities taking great care of him during the worst of storms and hottest of days. He is well nourished and has a promising future ahead of him. As I sit here at night, observing from a bench, I realize how silent the academic quads can be at night. Sycamo stands erected as tall as he can be, enjoying the cool breeze on a beautiful night with nothing to worry about. What a life. He’s been here for quite some time and has accumulated enough experience to apply for tree of the century.



The Life of Mr. Sweet When the Weather Starts Getting Colder

When sitting outside with Mr. Sweet there were four main things that I paid attention to. They included cars, sounds, students and other miscellaneous things that were happening. The very first sound that I heard was the clock loudly striking four times to signal that it was 4 in the afternoon. Luckily for me there were some moments where there were only sounds of nature when I could sit and just enjoy the moment that I was outside in October and it was still 70 degrees outside. All around me there were skateboarders and bikers going over the bumps in the sidewalk creating a “dudump” sound. There are crickets making chirping sound while birds cheep towards each other in order to get another one’s attention. There are crinkling of leaves from behind me which causes me to look back to see 3 students walking towards their house. There is even loud laughter coming from building close to me. The loudness of the laugh signifies that it must have been something very funny. A loud alarm going off like there was a door open that shouldn’t be open for an extended period of time.sweetgum#11

There were also many cars that went by during the time that I was sitting with Mr. Sweet. There was blaring of a loud horn to signify that somebody doesn’t like something that is going on. Some cars have the windows down enjoying the last of the nice fall weather. There are some cars that speed so fast by me like they don’t care about any of the other cars around them. There was even a black Harley Davidson that went by me. There was an older looking car have windows down also trying to enjoy the weather before it gets too cold. A car speeds by with two guys in it blasting music and it is easy to tell that they are college guys probably not freshmen though. There are a few cars parked on the street but not as many as I thought there would be. There was a truck that drove by with the brakes squeaky as it came to a stop. Within the cars some people are holding the wheel very tight near the top while others have one hand on wheel looking relaxed. One interesting thing that caught my attention was a green John Deere driving on the road with several cars behind going slower then cars coming in the opposite direction.

There were many other miscellaneous things that I witnessed. One of which including when looking at Mr. Sweet I noticed that some of his leaves are turning red, while there are other leaves that are still green, and still some leaves that have already hit the ground. I was able to smell fire burning like something is being cooked outside. As time goes on I can feel myself putting my hands in my sweatshirt in order to stay warm. The sun continued to get lower and lower until I could barely see it from behind a tree which means I no longer need to sunglasses that I’ve been wearing all afternoon. Finally the last thing I paid attention to was what the students were doing.

There was a great diversity in what students and people were doing and wearing. There were girls walking and talking. One pauses to pauses to put sunglasses on. When they got closer to me they stopped and doesn’t start again until they are a few feet away. One guy walked past me in Dickinson gear listening to music while playing on his phone. There is a girl in black the runs past in business attire wear like she is late for something. There is another girl that ran by me with pink sneakers on and a blue armband to listen to music. There was an older couple that walked by with 2 small dogs that were deep in conversation. There was a guy wearing a suit with one hand in pocket looking like he has had a rough day. It seemed like at some point that everyone was inside. There was also a guy with a backpack with stroller with 2 young children 1 of which is crying. Finally I see my friends walking towards me which signals it is time for dinner and time to say goodbye to Mr. Sweet until the next time.