Blog Post #1: 10 observations about Yeats’ “The lake Isle of Innisfree”

1: Several lines start with the word “And” giving a run-on sentence feel.

2: The first stanza and the last stanza have corresponding meters and rhyme schemes.

3:The middle stanza is less organized and more scattered on the page.

4: “I will arise and go now” repeats at at the beginning of the final stanza, which works to create a full circle in the content of the poem.

5: Looking at the form of this poem in its entirety, it looks sort of like a sandwich or a cheeseburger with two solid stanzas on both the top and bottom, and then a mess of ingredients in the middle.

6:The inventory that he lists in the first stanza of all his belongings is quite short.

7:Several words have a solemn and solitary connotation such as “alone,” “slow,” “peace,” “glow.”

8:The poem reads in the future tense. In other words, this is a goal or dream that the narrator has. He states, “I will” and “I shall.”

9:The middle section feels more enchanting with phrases such as “midnight’s all a glimmer,” “Noon a purple glow,” “Crickets singing,” “Evening full of linnets wings.”

10: The final stanza comes back into present tense, and is more raw in its depiction of nature. For instance, grey pavement and lapping water.

 

If You Love America, You Will Save Ash

“I want to be the very best, like no one ever was.” -Ash Ketchum, Pokémon Master

 

            A white ash tree is rooted on the corner of Morgan Field standing tall and proud. His name: Ash Ketchum, and this name is no coincidence. Before him, came a young boy with a dream, a dream to be the best, and his name was also Ash Ketchum. This Ash traveled across the land, and searched wide and far. Every challenge that came along the way he faced with courage. He had a dream to “catch ‘em all!’ and that he did. He caught all the Pokémon; he is a true hero among men.

Ash Ketchum (the white ash tree) embodies what his legendary name suggests. He is the very best, like no tree ever was. He is what Charles Darwin would call, “The fittest.” He makes other trees on the block look like potted plants. To cut him down would be not only a tragedy, but also an infringement on the values upheld by the tree community at large.

Ash brings more to the community than one may know. Most famously, he and his brethren have produced the renowned Louisville Slugger bats. How admirable and selfless of Ash to consider a purpose larger than himself. Here in America baseball is like nothing else. It is the national pastime. It is a way for father’s to bond with their children over a game of catch in the back yard. It’s Babe Ruth (who did in fact use a Lousville Slugger) pointing to the bleachers in center filed with the tip of his bat moments before he blasts the ball to smithereens. It’s Dave Roberts (for all you Sox fans out there) thrusting his arms back and forth as he speeds towards second base, suddenly dipping below the fielder’s tag, as he is called safe by a fraction of a fraction of a second. It’s simply Baseball.

Babe Ruth life time batting average .342

http://s419119445.onlinehome.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Babe-Ruth-home-run-hitter.jpg

 

The white ash species is waning from existence slowly and steadily. The end of the Louisville slugger era is nigh, but it is not too late. To save the entire species, ash must be saved from the blasphemous destruction of trees on Dickinson’s campus. Protect ash for his life, but also for the life of baseball.

Imagine an America without baseball. Babe Ruth would probably work at a super market, and Lou Gehrig would never have been able to spread publicity for ALS. There would be no Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Tropicana Stadium! The Cubs would still never win the World Series so maybe that would stay the same however. Regardless, if Ash is chopped down, baseball will die and America will be forever ruined. If you love America, then vote to save Ash’s rights!

 

 

http://s419119445.onlinehome.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Babe-Ruth-home-run-hitter.jpg

 

Use-Value of a Louisville Slugger

I am a student this semester in Anthony Barnum’s environmental sociology course. I am instructed to keep a tree blog, and in doing so I am helping my grade. With that being said, Ash Ketchum, the white ash tree on Morgan Field, which is my assigned tree, has a fairly high use-value for me at this time. Use-value as defined by The Marxist Glossary is “anything that satisfies a human want.” (1943: 96). In this situation my “human want” is to achieve a good grade, get a good GPA and graduate from college successfully…right?

It could be more than that however. I think the most basic human-want is to be happy. So how does Ash make me happy? In what ways is he enhancing my level of contentment? He is just a tree after all, a single trunk of wood with a few leaves and branches. Sure, plant life is the reason that I am able to breath and they produce oxygen, but one tree doesn’t make a huge difference, right?

For me, on the surface, without thinking about every way that Ash benefits my life, it is his aesthetic that gives him use value. I am a student at Dickinson College, and part of what drew me to come to school here is the natural and architectural beauty. Ash stands tall, with his branches drooping lazily over the grey stones of Morgan Hall. I as a human, want to be surrounded by beauty; I don’t think that people strive to be in an ugly place, it just depends on their version of “ugly.” For me Ash an ad to the beauty of this school, and satisfies my “want.”

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http://sports.mearsonlineauctions.com/lot-63957.aspx

            On a more practical level, Ash and his white ash brethren are responsible for many of the baseball bats used in Major League Baseball. Before recently, Louisville Slugger exclusively used white ash trees in the production of their legendary and historic baseball bats. Baseball bats are something that we as humans want. It is something tangible that we can see, and with that we know that Ash does contribute to the use-value of at least America, where baseball is the “national pastime.” Unfortunately these white ash trees are depleting so Louisville Slugger has to search for other resources.

Looking at Ash as a tree, and a member of the natural community as a whole, there is an obvious sense of use-value. We burn wood, we breath air, we need trees. We want to survive (I assume), and we cannot do so without trees. When it comes down to it, Ash’s most valuable addition to humans’ inherent use-value, is his ability to maintain life. Maybe the world could sacrifice a tree here and there, but Ash is a part of a global community of trees that we as humans heavily rely on.

 

 

 

http://www.sluggermuseum.com/workspace/uploads/facts-ls-wood-bats_7_9.pdf

Ash’s Paradigm

Tree Journal 9

 

The Human Exceptionalism Paradigm states that because we humans are the only biological species on this planet to develop an advanced culture, we are, in a way “exempt” from the evolutionary chain that defines the rest of life on earth (Catton & Dunlap 42-43). We have the ability to progress and fix our problems on our own rather than depending on the invisible forces within the environment. With regards to Ash, the tree that stands still on Morgan Field, this paradigm is undeniably applicable.

Lets assume that Ash has been around for 100 years. He has been growing, his trunk gaining girth and his highest branch gaining height. All the while, Ash has stood in the same spot, susceptible to the wind and the rain and the sunshine and the snow. However, in the past 100 years Dickinson College has rapidly evolved right in the trees front yard. Morgan Hall did not even exist when Ash was born. The environment has posed its problems, and we have responded. We started a project to create our own farm, and we have a composting system in our cafeteria that almost completely negates food waste. Ash could not do any of this if he tried.

Socially speaking, Ash is inept. He has no power of what he will one day become. He will take in sunlight and produce chloroplast and drink in the water that rains down on him, and that is all he will ever be able to do. The environment will not affect what I one day become however, for I have the power to be whom I would like to be. That is where I can argue against myself.

Lets use Carlisle as an example. It has become common knowledge, at least within the halls of Dickinson College, that the air we breathe in is of some of the lowest quality in the nation. The cross-country team still practices every day while in season, and breaths deeply into the mess of toxic particles in the air. Even on days when the EPA advises that it is unsafe for anybody to be outdoors, let alone exercise, the cross-country team runs. This isn’t something we can fix. This is something we contribute to, and like all other species are affected by.

The New Environmental Paradigm is the theory that humans are not unique, and not significant. We are part of the greater community that inhabits the earth, and because of our planet’s finite nature, we too have limits to where our growth and development may take us. (Catton & Dunlap 45). So with this paradigm in mind, we are just like Ash. We are no better; we are no worse. However many would argue (myself included) that we are in fact much worse.

Ash may seem helpless and completely vulnerable to what the environment offers while we are not. This New Environmental Paradigm is a long term hypothesis, because as we have recently seen with changing climates, the environment controls us too.

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Catton, William R., Jr., and Riley E. Dunlap. “Environmental Sociology: A New Paradigm.” The American Sociologist 13 (1978): 41-49. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

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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Field Notes #1

October 8, 2015. 02:46 PM

 

As usual in Carlisle, the sound of tires rolling on asphalt and the low rumble of engines provides a background noise to the goings on of the day. The High Street commotion is in full effect. Ash sits still, poised in his usual stance among the grassy field. At his base lay thousands upon thousands of faded, shriveled leaves. Most of these leaves, based on their texture and shape, used to belong to Ash’s branches up above. His leaves have a signature look about them with there elliptical, almost football shaped nature. However, there are a few outliers in the pack. Oak leaves, larger than my palm, lie scattered and camouflaged among the sea of Ash’s lost foliage.

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I pick up one of the oak leaves beneath my foot. It’s about seven inches long with three sharp points on both sides, and one at the top, like the star on a Christmas tree. It has a darker hue of orange than most of the other leaves; one might call it mahogany. The stem weaves up through the leaf branching off at various levels and continuing to do so exponentially. The series of stems appear to be the veins of the leaf and in between are the crackly cells that create the skin.

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Looking up at Ash, his loss of leaves becomes clear as I notice more branches than I did on the previous visit. The thick green leaf cover is beginning to thin into a yellowish net full of holes and tears. The breeze, as faint as it may be, causes the individual leaves to shake too and fro. They wobble together and as one they are like light shimmering on a body of water. They also resemble a school of fish weaving in and out of each other, because each leaf’s wobble is unique but at the same time blends into the unit as a whole.

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Ash’s bark, unchanged from the autumn shift is more visible today. The ridges that his breed are so well known for on the exterior are like a mesh that tightly wraps around his body. From my viewpoint (about 15 feet away), there appear to be diamonds that intertwine as they cloak the trunk, getting smaller and smaller the farther they go up the tree.

The clouds are thick today, and there are only a few moments where ash experiences a blissful bit of sunshine. Patches of blue in the sky appear every so often, but for the most part there are just thick, grey clumps traveling across the sky. To my right, the steeple on Alison hall seems to pierce the sky and it surprises me that it does not tear a hole right through those dreary clumps. Despite the weather, Ash stands still as ever, in his usual spot. He lets his leaves drop one by one like a leaky faucet and awaits the bitter cold winter that will soon be upon him.

Sounds of Ash

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I sit on the porch of Morgan Hall and Ash stares back at me, his branches drooping lazily in the heavy fall air. Cars and trucks rumble as they idle at the crosswalk on High Street and students too focused on where they are going ignore the chaos. Every now and then a thin wisp of wind cuts through the air bringing with it leaves and the dying breaths of summer. The crowd of trees among the adjacent field whisper to each other and as the wind grows stronger their whispers begin to grow into a blur of conversation as if we were all together in a crowded room.

The constant clicks and slams of the opening and closing of the door beside me, as students rush to and from their respective engagements wakes me up from the soothing voice of nature. Morgan hall, a bumpy, grey building formed by thousands of sharp slabs of limestone makes no noise except for the awkward clinks and beeps that are triggered by human interaction. A boy beside me rises up out of his metal seat on the porch. As he slides it out it creates a screeching rattle along the tile below it. I begin to stop noticing the flow of conversation between the others at my table and stare back towards Ash’s welcoming posture.

A squirrel near the base of Ash’s trunk stops and frantically scans its surroundings, almost as if it knew it was being watched. It stands still, frozen like a statue waiting for something. A pair of legs comes between the squirrel and my gaze and suddenly the sound of claws scampering up tree bark faintly brushes my attention and the squirrel is on his way up the trunk. Branches wobble and leaves crinkle beneath its weight. I can almost tell where the squirrel is based on the sound of his mischievous wandering. It is an intriguing sound that leads me to wonder about the squirrel and what resides within its world among the branches. Is it as familiar with those branches in the same way that I walk the paved paths around campus?

Ash shakes in the wind once more, like a dog emerging out of water releasing itself of the weight it bares. Cars continue to honk as their engines ferociously guzzle gasoline. Squirrels run among the same field where students throw a Frisbee from one end to the other. The human and nature connection becomes apparent as they each interact and contrast each other into an even harmony. I sit here contently on the porch of the stark grey building, Morgan Hall, and I notice its juxtaposition to the perfect awkwardness of the curves on Ash’s body.

The Art of Thought

My time in college so far has proved to me that it is impossible to get by without thinking. Really though, creating your own thoughts is something that is much easier said than done. So it seems like a good time-investment to actually think about how to think. What exactly is it that makes me think well? I’ve contemplated this concept and realized that many factors can play into how I think. I’ve compiled a list of what I think is the perfect thinking environment.

 

  1. Time of day: I think more clearly at certain times of day. Sunlight helps me focus for sure. If I have to do work and study at the late hours of the night, and sometimes early into the morning, my thought process slows down and becomes blurred.
  2. Solitary Confinement: Often times when I need to buckle down and focus on one thing for hours on end, I like to exile myself from the world. At Dickinson I will find the quietest most discrete corner in the library and I eventually begin to enjoy the daunting aloneness.
  3. Coffee: I don’t know if it is the aroma, the nearly boiling water going down my throat, or the actual caffeine that helps me focus, but altogether coffee is something that contributes to an optimal level of focus.
  4. Weather: Some may say that a warm, breezy sunny day is a good way to clear the mind and think actively, which is sometimes true for me. On the contrary however, it is the gloomy, inclement weather that compels me to think more distinctly.
  5. Organization: I am most certainly one of those people that must be organized in order to think. I like things to be clear and laid out perfectly in front of me on a square table where I can see my thoughts as I put them onto paper.

 

As Leopold watches the patterns and lifestyle of his front yard and the birds that reside within it, there is a sense of routine that is imperative to his observational thinking. The studious manner in which he looks at nature is both diligent and time consuming. He can observe all he wants yet there will always be things that are left unseen. So it makes sense for him to continue his same routine and take note of the things that he is able. In relation to this notion of routine, my list explains the routine in which I must think in order to fully observe parts of my daily life.

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I sit beneath my tree, which I call Ash, on the corner of the slightly sloped field beside Morgan Hall, and I consider my routine and try to link my thinking habits to my current environment. I follow the ridges up the trunk of the tree and it quickly begins to turn into several large skyward facing branches. It comes to a point where twigs and branches are no longer visible and the blur of green and yellow that is the soon to be autumn leaves camouflages the tree’s skeleton. The leaves create a blanket that has been torn in several sports allowing little dots of atmosphere to poke through.

The bark is rough as I slide my hand along its exterior. My fingers settle naturally into the ridges and I feel every one of the millions of small bumps on my finger-tips. The dry fall leaves sound like wax-paper as they crinkle in the wind and the stale, brisk air fills my nostrils. Ash’s leaves begin to fall as it ends another cycle of life and it resembles a dog shedding its fur or a phoenix burning to ash. I let my hand fall from the Ash’s grip and bid him farewell until I visit on another day.

 

 

 

 

Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.

History of Ash

The grand white ash, otherwise known as Ash Ketchum looms over Morgan Hall spilling his wisdom with every leaf that blows off of his branches. At approximately 100 years of age he still stands tall observing the days as they pass by him. He shows signs of age and wear with his rough bark and concentric rings inside of his trunk but his sturdiness does not dwindle. Mentally sharp as a tack, Ash is just a history textbook that fortunately has not been turned into paper.

September 15, 2015: I am introduced to Ash Ketchum the white ash tree and he tells me stories of his admirably long life.

June 2012, the Dickinson chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is banned from campus for hazing allegations. Ash watches as fraternity brothers accept their fate, walking past him with their heads held low. Ash is 97 years old and as he has seen Dickinson go through hard times so he has no worries when sees 20 year olds getting worked up. Meanwhile I am back in New Hampshire unaware that someday I may end up on the same campus as Ash.

1996: Bill Clinton becomes elected President and I am born at Heywood hospital in Gardener, Massachusets. Ash, unable to vote, has faith in the Dickinson community and the rest of the United States from picking a qualified president. He hopes that Clinton will implement policies protecting American forests. Although Ash is 81 at this point in his life, and confident that he has a happy life to look forward to, he is worried for the rest of the environment and all of his white ash brothers and sisters out in the world

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            March 1979: Panic breaks out at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middleton, Pennsylvania some 20 miles east of Dickinson due to a potential meltdown and a state of emergency breaks out on campus. Nearly 75 percent of the population on campus evacuates due to fear of a nuclear explosion but a 64-year-old Ash sits in the same spot he always has. He considers the possibility of the disaster that may occur and after a few weeks of unnerving thoughts, his worries are quelled when the danger dies down.

December 1933: Prohibition is repealed in the United States and Dickinson begins to gain a reputation and the nickname “Drinkinson.” Ash has trouble sleeping on Friday and Saturday nights due to belligerent students under the influence of the newly legal substance, alcohol. However, as an 18 year old Ash is intrigued with this behavior and is sad that he does not have the ability to partake in the enjoyment.

1915(approximately): Ash Ketchum, the white ash tree is planted on Morgan Field and is just a baby tree. He is introduced to the world and the Dickinson community. Little does he know that 100 years later he will be introduced to me, Owen Winslow and his life will be documented and published for the world to see.

 

 

 

 

Blinn, Jeffrey W., and Sarah L. Snyder. “College Responds to Three Mile Island Nuke Accident.” The Dickinsonian [Carlisle] 12 Apr. 1979: 4-5. Dickinsonian.edu. Web. 5 Oct. 2015. <http://deila.dickinson.edu/cdm/ref/collection/dickinsonia/id/8550>.

Duckworth, Catie. “SAE Forced Off Campus.” The Dickinsonian [Carlisle] 12 Sept. 2012: 1-2. Dickinsonian.edu. Web. 05 Oct. 2015. <http://deila.dickinson.edu/cdm/ref/collection/dickinsonia/id/38030>.