Saving Mari

Mariposa is a lot like a service puppy in training. She is young (only about ten years old- just about the age of a puppy if you compare the lifespan of a tree to the lifespan of a dog), and she has a lot of growing left to do. Her fuzzy bud coverings are as soft as a puppy’s fur, and Mother Nature must nourish her so she can grow, much like a puppy needs nourishment from its mother.

image  12349632_10203497871926662_148115650_o

She is important to the environment around her. She provides food, life, and color to the world. Service dogs touch the lives of many: their raisers, trainers, and eventually their partner. They changes lives.

image  image

Mari is far too young to die now. She has so much growing to still do, and she has a lot to offer the world. Save Mari, because you wouldn’t kill a puppy, would you?

image  12351703_10203497872606679_1723348172_o

Mari’s Value

Mari has a lot of value to the world around her. In the spring, she blooms beautiful yellow flowers that look like butterflies sitting on her branches. These flowers are pollinated by beetles, bees, and other insects. They provide food to the insects that pollinate them.

The flowers also produce a sweet aroma that is pleasant to humans. The bright yellow petals add color to the landscape and are appealing to the eye. Her yellow flowers brighten up the area by the Quarry which is mostly green. She adds character.



Mari blossoms in late winter/early spring, which means she is some of the first color to appear after winter. This is especially useful to people like me that can get really depressed in the winter. Seeing the first bits of color after a long winter gives me hope and reminds me that spring is coming soon, bringing warm weather with it.

Mari adds a lot to the world around her. She is a source of food, life, and hope.

We are not exempt


The Human Exemptionalism Paradigm (HEP) is the set of principles surrounding the idea that the human race is separated from the environment, and that we are superior and therefore are not bounded by natural resources. This kind of thought is dangerous for the environment, humans, and Mari. This kind of thinking justifies cutting down trees with little thought to how it will affect us. We can drive two minutes down the road to our friend’s house without worrying how the pollution will affect us as a race. We believe we will adapt.

This is far from true. Humans are not exempt from their environment; the environment does have an impact on us. This is why the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) was introduced. NEP is the set of principles surrounding the idea that humans, in fact, are influenced by the environment. The resources humans depend on are finite and limited, and if we use them all up or destroy them, the human race will not survive.

I prefer the NEP principles. I think it is important to take care of the world around us. My dad always used to say “we only have one earth, so we better take care of it.” If we don’t, the human race doesn’t have a future. We cannot afford to continue to cut down forests and pollute our water and create so much waste if we want to survive. We are a critical part of our environment, and we need to act like we care.

If if we continue to cut down trees without thinking about the consequences, we will suffer in the future. We have to save Mari and her friends in order to have a future on earth.

Mari Notes: Part 3

December 6th, 2015: 3:00 pm.

12359327_10203497869166593_138697309_o  12333130_10203497868686581_180664114_o

Today feels more like winter. I note that it is pretty chilly outside as I sit down on my rock, holding my coffee in my hands to keep them warm. The sky is a very, very pale blue, almost gray. The sun is not out to keep me warm today. I zip up my jacket and settle in.

Mari doesn’t seem to mind the cold. She stands as tall as she did the other day, while I huddle and crunch myself into a ball to stay warm. Her branches remain splayed out all over the place, while I tuck my arms into my sleeves and cross them against my chest.

A few people walk by, headed to the Quarry to seek warmth and sustenance. I smile at them if we make eye contact, and most of them smile back. I remember that this is one of the things that drew me to Dickinson; everyone seemed so kind and friendly. I take a sip of my coffee and notice that all around my feet are brown, deteriorating leaves, and I realize that they were Mari’s. I remark how odd it is that I didn’t notice before today, but realize that since the other day was so beautiful out, I was looking up at the sky and not down at my feet.

12334529_10203497868126567_1187775818_o 12351815_10203497868246570_1468918310_o 12359642_10203497867806559_2013299004_o

Mari’s leaves scattered around her trunk and her tree tag.

I look around and see if there is anything else I hadn’t noticed before. Lo and behold, there is! Mari has a silver identification tag on her trunk that reads 585. I assume I never noticed it before because it was hiding under her leaves. I think about all the other things that I didn’t notice as much about Mari until her leaves dropped; the texture of her bark, the way her branches are randomly placed, the knots in her trunk. It makes me think about what else I don’t know about her. Even though I have been spending all semester getting to know her, I don’t know her all that well. She is a curious little tree, and I learn something new about her every time I visit.

Mari Notes: Part 2

December 4th, 2015: 1:30 pm.

           12334488_10203497869846610_727711795_o    12349414_10203497870886636_1949779859_o


It is a bright, relatively warm sunny day when I get out of class, and I decide to take advantage of the nice weather and visit Mari. I sit down on my rock and observe the curve of her branches. Now that she has lost all of her leaves, her structure is more evident. You can tell that she is pretty young because she is thin and not fully developed yet. Still, she is strong. Her bark is fairly smooth and her fuzzy bud coverings are soft.

The world around us is still. There is not much of a breeze, and there are not many students around; they are already in their next classes. The air is fresh and crisp. It is not terribly cold, but you can feel that winter is coming.

I am thankful that the sun is out. It is nice enough that I am able to go without a jacket. The sun warms my back. I turn around so that it can warm my face, too


The bright, winter sun and the beautiful blue sky.

 A few cars pass by, and one student walks past me and Mari, headed to the Quarry. Other than that, though, it is quiet. I check the time on my phone and remember that today is my dad’s birthday. I make a mental note to call him later. I think about how old he is, which makes me think about Mari’s age. She is still just a treeling, over four times younger than my dad. I think about the lifetime of a tree and how many generations Mari is going to watch walk up and down the steps of Old West.

I take one last deep breath of fresh air and pack up my things to go do some homework before my next engagement. I touch one of Mari’s fuzzy bud coverings, say goodbye to her, and head off.

Mari Notes: Part 1

October 15, 2015: 8:30 am.

It is a cool morning as I sit on the rock next to Mariposa. Her leaves are still damp from the morning dew, and the sun is just beginning to warm the earth. A few students run by, almost late to their first class of the day. They glance at me sitting with Mari, a confused expressions on their faces, but they don’t have time to ask. I realize I’ve noticed many confused expressions as people pass by me whenever I sit with Mari. “The Trellis is over there,” their expressions say. “Why are you sitting on a rock?” I suppose unless you’re taking some kind of environmental class, you don’t really spend time just sitting with nature or really recognizing its beauty. I just smile as people walk by.


The rock that I sit on next to Mariposa

I check my watch. 8:40 am. How the time passes so quickly as I just sit and think! I get up from my rock and stretch my limbs. I walk around Mari, looking at all of her leaves and her lopsided shape. What makes a tree grow lopsided? I wonder. She is uneven in size, full in some places and bare in others. I wonder if she’ll grow to be fuller once she is mature. I make a mental note to keep an eye on her next year, too. As I’m walking around her, I notice a plaque. How had I never seen this before! I take a closer look.

“In loving memory of
Gretchen L. Franck ’98
‘When you get the choice… I hope you dance’

I wonder who she is and why Mari is dedicated to her. I make another mental note to look her up in the archives and ask my friend who’s in Theta.

image    image

Mari’s lopsidedness; the plaque beneath her

A chipmunk passes by. His cheeks are full of nuts, and I assume he’s running to bury them for the winter. At that moment, a cool wind blows through my hair. I shiver as it’s still slightly wet from my shower this morning.

8:48 am. I check my watch and note I have 12 more minutes until I have to meet my friend for breakfast. I sit back down on my rock and continue my observations.

People chatter over on the Trellis as they eat breakfast from the Quarry. Birds chatter on the telephone lines as they prepare for flight. A car or two passes by, but there’s not too much traffic at this time, at least not on West Louther. The clouds are moving quickly throughout the sky, and the sun is finally reaching my skin, warming me and my damp hair. A few more people walk by, but no one I know or even recognize. The birds fly away, staying together, but each flying his own path.

Another breeze comes by, but this one isn’t as cool, especially with the warmth of the sun. A couple of squirrels run up the trunk of a tree close to Mari, playing, fighting, running up and down. I laugh because they remind me of my brothers, always bothering each other. I check my watch. 8:58 am. I pack up my things and stand up from my rock again, stretching. I see people leaving the Quarry with their coffees and their muffins. I start walking their way to meet my friend where they just left. As I’m walking over, I turn back to look at Mari, standing lopsided, yet tall and proud. “See you tomorrow,” I think to her. The wind catches her leaves, waving goodbye.




Me and Mari

 People often tell others to “stop and smell the roses”… But what about the sounds of nature? Too often we hustle and bustle from one place to another, never stopping to appreciate nature’s beauty and all it offers for our senses.

As I was sitting with Mari one day, I decided to pay attention to the sounds of nature. Of course, since Mari isn’t located in the middle of a forest, I also listened to the sounds of mankind.

At first, it’s fairly quiet. The wind flows through Mari’s leaves and those of the surrounding foliage, which creates a peaceful rustling sound. Soon after though, a car passes by on West Louther. The purr of the engine gets louder as it gets closer and quickly peaks and then quiets until I can no longer hear it. When classes let out, I hear the busy footsteps of students running to their next class and the chit-chatter between friends about how they did on their exams, what they did over the weekend, and the countdown to Fall Pause. A squirrel runs past in the grass, its footsteps inaudible, but making a little rustling as he runs through the tall grass. A garbage truck comes by to pick up the waste from the Quarry. The steady beeping meaning it’s in reverse overpower the sound of the wind brushing my arms and Mari’s branches. Once the truck finishes making a commotion (picking up the dumpster, emptying it, putting it back down…), it revs its engine and drives down the road. I try to focus back on nature. The breeze is soft and makes only the faintest sound as the last few students rush to class, running, pounding their feet on the ground so as not to be late. The items in their backpacks slosh around as they run up and down. And soon, it’s just me and nature again. The wind carries fallen leaves around me and I realize all I can hear now is the sounds of the breeze and of my breath, and if I really focus, I can even hear my heart beating.

Spending this quiet time with Mari, simply observing the world’s music, was calming and interesting. I never really take the time to listen to the world around me, so it was nice to take a break and do so. The contrast between the quietness of nature and the loudness of the man-made fascinated me, and I realized that humans were somewhere in the middle. We are a part of nature and we can be soft, but too often we are more like the garbage truck, causing commotion and not taking the time to stop and be quiet.

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

The Life of a Tree

When Mari was a little treeling, she was added to the Dickinson College community. Her arborist planted her in the ground next to the Trellis where she would grow and watch Dickinson grow for the past ten years and into the future. During my time with Mariposa, she’s told me a lot about her life and the life of the college during her lifetime.

In the spring of 2005, Mari was planted near the Quarry which had recently been transformed from a fraternity house into another dining option. She watched as students were able to put in their opinions on how to make the Quarry better and Dining Services continued to build and improve the new coffee and sandwich shop.

That May, Mari witnessed her first commencement. She could only see parts of it since Old West blocks part of her view, but she was amazed by all the people out on the Academic Quad. The following week, though, campus was quiet and remained that way until mid-August. Soon, students came back and Mari felt excited for the new year. She watched Convocation during the last weekend of August and was enamored with all the new faces. She realized it would be the first class she would see all the way through their four years at Dickinson, and that thought excited her.

Time passed and Mari grew bigger and bigger. Every spring, students would marvel over her beautiful yellow blossoms, and Mari would bask in the attention. Summers became her least favorite times because all of the students were gone. Every May Mariposa watched another class graduate and leave Dickinson behind, and every August she would watch another class come in, full of bright eyes and eager minds ready to learn. Sometimes Mari wished she could leave Dickinson as the seniors did and be able to experience the world, but often the dewy eyed first years would bring her love of Dickinson back and she was elated to meet the new students.

In August 2013, I arrived as one of those dewy eyed freshmen. I didn’t walk past Mari very often as my classes weren’t near her, and I lived on Morgan Field. Even when I did walk past her, I didn’t really notice her, and she didn’t really notice me. It really wasn’t until we were formally introduced a few weeks ago that we really began to notice each other. Now every time I’m in the area, I make a point to walk by and say hello, which always makes her day. She told me I’m one of the first people in her ten years that has really made a point of being friends with her, and even after she watches me graduate in 2017, she’ll always remember our friendship and tell her new friends about me when they ask about her history.


Mari at ten years old, standing tall and proud next to the Trellis


Early in September, my classmates and I went on a tree tour led by campus arborist Mark Scott. As we walked around the academic quads on that late summer, early autumn hot afternoon, I remember feeling patient and waiting my turn as my classmates called “dibs” tree after tree. I wasn’t worried about getting my tree early so I could zone out for the rest of the tour; I was enjoying the fresh air and learning about the trees on campus. Soon, I was the only one without a tree. Mark said, “don’t worry, you’re getting one of my favorite trees!” I was excited. Mark walked me and my classmates to a tree beside the Trellis and introduced us.

Mariposa (Spanish for “butterfly”) is a ten year old Butterflies Magnolia tree. She stands about 15 feet tall with an uneven spread of about 7 feet. She is a crossbreed, her parents being Cucumber and Yulan Magnolias. She’ll grow to be about 20 feet tall with leaves 10 inches long. She has fuzzy coverings on her buds, and in the early Spring, she blooms brilliant yellow flowers.

Me and Mariposa; her leaves and fuzzy buds.

Mari and I didn’t get much time together since we met right at the end of class and I had other engagements to get to, but I knew right away we would get along, and I couldn’t wait to get to know her better.