The Best Tree Around

IMG_4901Final post. Final words to write down.

Why is my tree the best, why should my tree be one that should always be saved, well here is my argument.

My tree, my heroic, majestic, lovely, Eastern Hemlock has been through hell and back. To start all of its family, his cousins, brothers, sisters, mother and father have been hit with the Hemlock Woody Adelgid. This is a horrible disease that the hemlocks get from an insect. The insect drains all of the water and nutrients from the tree until there is nothing else left to support the tree, and thus killing it. This tree is relatively young for Hemlocks and has so much life to live. Being one of a few trees even in the state that has not been hit with this disease is saying something in its self. This tree needs to be saved so that it can keep growing the hemlock population in the area and not just die out like this family. Seeing as this tree is one of a few that has yet to be hit, maybe research can be done to understand why. We can learn so much from this tree. We can do more testing in the field to understand if there is a treatment and see if we can prevent this from growing into other untouched areas. This tree can give us hope, hope that we will be able to look out our windows and see Hemlocks in a few years.

Another reason why my tree to be saved and has been through hell is that it literally went through war and was wounded in battle and lives to tell the story. In the summer it fought through the battle of the summer rainstorm and won. This tree was moving all around trying to save everyone around it and was able to, but it was hit and his top was hit by lightning. He lost what some say is one of the most important things on a tree, its apical meristem. This is at the very top and is what allows the tree to grow up and out in its typical shape. Some say that without it, that it would be the same, but this tree couldn’t accept that future. My hemlock worked through the rest of the summer to try and grow and many said that it was not possible, but Hemlock wouldn’t take that. After many months of no growth in October it was recorded that it grew 3 inches. Many said that it was impossible, but my Hemlock is a survivor and showed everyone up. He grew, and continues to grow everyday.

This tree should be saved because it gives me hope. I look at this tree every other day as I walk to class and I think about what is has gone through and how it needs a break from struggle and just needs love. This tree can spread its hope through the campus and become something more.

This is more than just a tree, this is a strong warrior. This Eastern Hemlock has seen more trouble and death than I have and technically we are about the same ago. This tree has so much more life to give and more hope to give to those around it. It deserves more than it is given.

Use-Value

 

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Over the past semester I have learned a lot about myself, the people around me, the nature around and of course my lovely Eastern Hemlock. I think that when people look at a tree they don’t fully understand its importance to your daily life and don’t see how great of an impact it leaves on us. My tree has taught me a lot about the human need for “stuff”.

Use-Value being “anything that satisfies a human want” of my tree to me as an individual, is something that I originally did not expect.   My tree gives me comfort. My tree is now a place that I can go to relax and still be on campus but feel distant. My tree is a place for me to connect to nature and not have to drive to a park or walk very far. My tree gives me hope, and everyone wants a little hope in our world. This eastern hemlock has been the hell and back. It is one of a few hemlocks on campus to begin with, let alone it is the only hemlock on campus that has yet to be hit with the Woody Adelgid. This is shows me that even if everything around us is falling apart, and we ourselves are hurt and down, that we need to stand tall and power through it because someone out there needs us. The tree obviously satisfies the want to be surrounded by nature. Being in a small city, you don’t expect there to be many trees, but for bring in a nice ascetic appeal trees were planted and I appreciate it. This hemlock is more than just a tree to me; it gives me more than just the air that I breathe and something pretty to look it. My tree and I have more of an emotional connect now, which is not something I really expected.

Next is the “use-value” of my tree to the local environment. It is not a surprise that Carlisle has pretty poor air quality with 2 major highways running through the town and all of the warehouses as well. This tree tries to help even all of the pollution out by taking in some of the CO2 and releasing oxygen in return. This tree tries to help with the pollution problem that our local environment faces. Also, similar to its use-value for me, this tree gives the campus something pretty to look at. This tree lets people walk around and not feel like they are is a small city with all of the chaos and noise. Also, as I’ve said above it is one a few trees in the area that has not been affected y the Hemlock Woody Adelgid. This is more than just a tree; it is a servant to us and to its environment. To the campus this tree is just another tree to make it look pretty. Even though the tree may have its head cut off, most of the campus doesn’t notice or care. This people on the campus may not care, but the animals of the campus sure do. They then have something to play on and to store their seeds and nuts in. This tree is their home.

This trees “use-value” to our global ecosystem isn’t much in my opinion. I don’t see how one tree can do much globally. This one tree won’t be able to stop all of the pollution in the world. It has some affect because it is slowly helping to prevent the world from being more polluted than it already is. The use value for the universe seems, just like for the global environment minimal. This tree could be used for its wood. One day some one can come and cut it down and use its hardy wood to make something, not paper, but maybe a canoe or something.

I feel like once you start looking at a tree in a larger and larger picture the affects that it has on what you are looking at get smaller and smaller.

HEP v. NEP

In the class that I am taking where I write these blog posted I learned about HEP and NEP. Catton and Dunlap explain that there are two paradigms, The “Human Exceptionalism Paradigm” or “HEP” and, the “New Environmental Paradigm” also known as “NEP”. “HEP” states that humans are superior to the environment, thus, saying that this physical environment is irrelevant in helping to understand social behavior (250). In contrast, “NEP” stresses the ecosystem-dependence of human societies (250). After examining these statements and spending some 9 weeks with my lovely Eastern Hemlock I think I have developed an opinion on which one I think we as a society and myself personally live by.

Spending so much time with a tree and out in nature looking around at the people who walk by and how they interact I think we follow the “New Environmental Paradigm” or NEP. I think that NEP is the definition of us as a society whether it is what we want to hear to not, I think it to be the truth. We take so much from the environment and we don’t think anything about it, but if we stopped and thought we would understand that we are over using our resources and soon may be without them.

If you sit back and take a moment and examine your life you will understand that we are so dependent of the environment its actually a little sad. Without the environment what would we have? Look at our buildings, they are made from stone, which comes from where….THE ENVIRONMENT, week took them right from nature. The paper that we use every day, they was some trees at one point in the past, not anymore, its just one more thing that we consume as a society. Our clothing made of cotton that is a naturally grown plant that we are harvesting so that we can be clothed and not run around naked or find alternatives to this. The food that we eat, the napkins that we wipe our mouths with and water that we use take our 30 minutes showers and wash our dirty clothes are all from the environment. Without them, what would we be? Using understand the environment is curial to helping us understand our social behaviors.

I think the environment shaped some of my social behaviors. The fact that I don’t like cities or that I take shorter showers is because of the impact that the environment has had on me over the years. I think we need to stop thinking that we are so high and mighty and control everything because we have money and power, because that is not the case. We are weak when it comes to our need for the environment. We are controlled by nature.

 

 

 

Catton, William, R. and Riley E. Dunlap. Environmental Sociology. Washington State University: 1979.

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The time I met Tom, the cat

IMG_4899Last round of field notes, and I’ve noticed that small details have been jumping out at me. A slight rustling of the leaves or someone’s footsteps along a path startle me. I spent another lovely 30 minutes with my beautiful Eastern Hemlock jotting down everything that I saw, heard and enjoyed.

I like to do this in the morning so that I get a wide range of experience. I sit down leaning my back up against the strong Easter Hemlock. I look up to admire its loss and take in a moment to appreciate it. As I do this I notice a squirrel jump from a neighboring trees branch and scurry down my trees arm and to its trunk. Slowly I notice that it notices me and jumps off of the trunk in fear and runway to yet another tree. It seems to have found a friend at this tree and they chase each other around the tree for a while. They run into the large grassy gap and one stops something and stops. A cat approaches the area. Both squirrels seem to slowly move and when they think the cat is not looking the run to the closest tree. The cat though, did see this slight movement and raced after the two squirrels. Both squirrels got away in their trees and did not come down.

This cat, lets call him Tom, is a beautiful golden yellow color, and stops its hunt for the squirrels. Tom walks swiftly thought the academic area. Tom walks as if it knows this place well, like it owns this place and we are all trespassing on his territory. Tom slowly stops moving and gets on a part of the pavement walk way by me and sits down. Again, slowly, Tom moves to be in a more horizontal position to lie down and warm up with the sun beating down on the pavement and on its fur. I notice that it has no collar so I decide to not comfort it or try and approach it since I do not know if it has been vaccinated or has anything wrong with him.

I loose focus on the cat and start looking around. There are many more leaves on the ground being November than in my last post. Most of the trees have lost all of their leaves I feel that this point. My eastern hemlock is still going strong with its glorious green needles. All of the leaves on the ground seem to have lost their exciting color. All of the chlorophyll in them has ben drained their green color, turning them into their fall coloration and now what leaves used to be yellow and turned brown due to exposure to the elements.

Some students arrive walking from Denny meaning they must be upper classmen most likely waking up after a late night and needing something to help how they are feeling. There are 5 girls, 3 blond and 2 are brunettes all bundled up looking like they are gearing up for the first snowstorm. The look partially disheveled and confused as to what time it is. They do not seem pleased that they are awake at this hour which makes me think that they had to wake up this early and might regret how they spent some of their night. They are about 10 meters away from me, and Tom must have heard them and up and spots them. He sits there for a while and then decided that they are walking right for his space and moves to another location.

This concludes my field notes.

Autumn is Upon us

Here is another set of field notes with my lovely hemlock tree. I have noticed that over time writing has gotten easier for me, which is nice and allows me to enjoy my time with my tree more. I spent another 30 minutes with my tree enjoying the environment around and recording everything that I encountered.

The leaves are changing so quickly. It seems as if just yesterday everything was green and it was 80 degrees outside. The beech in front of me has developed various colored leaves in its canopy and some of them are scattered on the ground around it as well. The sun is at a perfect location in the sky where it is hitting me and warming me, yet touching the trees leaves making a love glow around me. Most leaves are still green, but if you look close enough you can see that some of them are slowly loosing their chlorophyll and changing color.

IMG_4765_2It seems that the leaves on the ground are getting crunchier. The squirrels that once made minimal noise are now making much louder sounds due to the amount of leaves on the ground. I can hear the scurrying of the squirrels from quit the distance away. Even though it is cold, they don’t seem to mind either. The warmth of their fur must keep them from getting cold in this morning chill. Also they are running a lot so that also must be aiding in their warming abilities.

There are only 4 squirrels out that I can see and they all see to be looking fatter. Now they seem to be less chasing each other, but looking for nuts to put away. Some of them have found some and they pack them into the ground. They use the power from the hind legs to push the nuts into the ground deep enough that no other squirrel will find it, but shallow enough that they will be able to find it again. Watching squirrels prepare for winter makes me wonder how humans would act if we all had to prepare for winter and if we hibernated.

Seeing as it is early in the morning there are not that many people would. One person walks by me walking their dog. It seems to be a German Shepard and has an extremely bushy tail. The man walking the dog seems content with his day so far and not annoyed at the time or that he has to walk his dog. He is wearing a light army green jacket, gloves and jeans. The dog walks tall until something catches his nose and he sniffs the ground dragging his owner around.

As the dog gets close to the squirrels they all see the scurry away.  They squirrels drop their nuts, and run to the closest tree. The dog on the other hand does not seem to be phased by the squirrels at all. It is as if the dog did not even see that it was getting close to them, clearly the dog had more important things on his mind.

Yet another interesting morning at ol’Hemlock. There seems to never be a dull moment around the academic quad early in the mornings. There seems to always be something to watch.

Field Notes from a Hemlock

Before I started this assignment I felt like I needed to be in the right frame of mind. I needed to clear my head other everything that was bothering me about the past week or the week to come. I new that for this assignment I needed to be very focused so that I would be able to write rich descriptions of what I was witnessing. So here is my first set of field notes on the marvelous Eastern Hemlock.

Squirrels running everywhere! The scatter from place to place like they have no destination at all. They chase each other like a game but run so quickly it is like they are doing it out of fear. One of them stops to smell the ground. This one squirrel occasionally looks up and then goes back to looking at the ground smelling. HE FOUND A NUT! The others are still running, now moving up trees making quiet scratching noises with their tiny nails. They jump from branch to branch knocking down some of the leaves.

The leaves fall down smoothing and some of them get pulls back up from the wind. As the hit the ground there seems to be no noise. A larger gust of wind comes and makes all the leaves on the ground move about creating a rustling sound.

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Suddenly students appear. They seem to be in deep conversation. 3 of them are wearing dresses while the one boy is wearing jeans and a yellow shirt. They seem to be having a relatively heated discussion about something, but I cannot hear everything they are saying. Other students come riding by on the bikes zooming in and out of the crowds. More and more students approach and what silence that once filled the area is now filled the college chatter about the up coming party tonight or a poor grade they received on a midterm. They leaves that feel and were once quiet now are being crunched by all of the humans walking by.

The temperature gets warmer as the sun continues to shine in my general location. With the rays beating down on me, I noticed that I was not the only one who was feeling a bit warm. Students are stopping in their tracks to take off their coats and sweaters. Some students who wearing sweaters are rolling up with sleeves and turning red as their bodies heat from the sun.

Everybody seems to be in a rush, even the squirrels are. They run around and now have more obstacles with more people outside. They scurry from one place to another dodging people left and right trying to stay out of their way, but also keeping a good distance away from the squirrel hunting him.

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The crowd began to simmer down and shrink in the minutes that passed. The cars did not. There seemed to be even more cars appear every minute honking. Trucks come barreling in not caring. A car makes a right hand turn on red and almost gets hit by a large Giant food truck.

My half hour is about up and I notice that now I am not the only person in the quad. There are about 12 others, 4 girls and 8 boys who have joined me. Some are sitting in the red chairs dispersed through the grass while others are sitting on the grass and 1 person is leaning by the flagpole. All seem to be doing reading of some sort.

During these minutes time moved slowly, but as the chaos began with the more and more people, time speed up to agree with the rate at which people were moving.

Sounds of Human and of Nature

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As I sit by my tree and hear many things going on. I get a sense of tranquility as I sit with my back up against my wonderful tree. There is a sense of calm surrounding me, and my tree, that I haven’t felt in a while. My tree is a safe place for me to be at this moment and maybe for more moments to come.

As I sit with my tree I hear many sounds. Earlier in the day I was hearing the sounds of peaceful nature around me. I heard the leaves rustle in the grass and a gust of wind would come though and disturb their peace. I could hear the sounds of the leaves moving in the trees as that very same breeze came through making some of those leaves slowly wither to the ground like a light feather. I could hear the sounds of many squirrels squeaking as the run up and down the trees around me chasing each other. Their sounds are so happy and pure. They are having fun like little toddlers running about the yard being free with not a care in the world.

As a bigger breeze comes I can hear the sounds of branches hitting each other, but there is no harsh retaliation between trees. The hit is quickly forgotten and the peace remains. As I slowly close my eyes to enjoy the sounds nature gives me I am abruptly stopped by the sound of a car horn blaring. This was not peaceful. This is angry and harsh. Then, I hear the sounds of a young child crying because she fell and scrapped her knee; again this was not peaceful and slowly began to ruin my morning. Suddenly my morning was filled with chaos and loud booming sounds. Trucks roaring by, more car horns blaring for what seems to be no reasons at all, people moving around talking nonsense to each other. There were all things that made my tranquil morning into something less than peaceful.

From this I can see that for me personally I have a more emotionally peaceful connection when it comes to nature than I do when it comes to human-related sounds. Those human sounds make me anxious and worry. They are all so harsh and abrupt; they do not care for anything that is around them. They do not pay attention. How can something that is human made not pay attention to a human, when it seems that nature does. Nature brings me to peace. My emotions with the sounds of nature are happy or pleased.

Nature and human-created sounds are 2 completely different things. They provoke very different emotions when it comes to myself. I may have picked a bad day to sit outside of human-related sounds, but it was what I heard and how I felt. Who knows, maybe over time it will change, hopefully for the better.

Observations with an Eastern Hemlock

IMG_4766_2I like to think of my self as a scientist. I am majoring in a hard science and find that I think very analytically using what I know and information that I get from observing things as well. I come from a scientific background, both of my parents were science majors and I always grew up around science. Understand how I think, it does not surprise me when I realize that I think best when I am alone with my thoughts and in the quiet, sometimes I can deal with some soft noise. The quiet allows me to hear everything that is going on in my head and really analyze what I am doing.

I feel that this is very similar to Leopold. He usually is observing and working alone in a quiet place. He also is very detail oriented; he explains things in such great detail I feel as if something I am standing there next to him. It is like he knows he can’t think with people next to him so he writes it so that we still feel that close to him. He processes things as a naturalist would. Describing every detail he sees, so much into the deep science, but just enough to get his point across.

Now sitting with my beautiful tree I try and observe and analyze all that I can, just like Leopold does. I picked a time when I knew not many people would be out walking around so that I could use the silence that I like to allow me to think clearly, a nice crisp Sunday Morning at 8am.

The sun is up in the sky beating down on me; since my tree does not have much of a top anymore it does not block much sun. My tree its not as tall as the other ones around it, they are actually giving me more shade that my own tree. The sky is a little hazy from all of rain we received the past few days. There are birds coming out and singing their morning songs. They flitter around the sky as if they haven’t flown in years. The wind stirs up as a chill runs down my spine. The wind makes the leaves on the ground rustle as well as makes more leaves of the neighboring trees fall to the ground and join those already dancing from the breeze. My tree has no leaves, only needles and none on them fall to the ground, they all stay firmly attached to my beloved tree.

Squirrels chasing each other as if they are playing tag everywhere. They jump from tree to tree squeaking at each other trying to get away. They are fast through the grass trying to get to another tree away from the one hunting them. They stay away from my tree though. I think they are very aware of my presence and do not want to bother me.

There are so many different things happening at once. I could count the amount of leaves on the ground and the amount of leaves that joined them after they feel from the wind. I could count the number of squirrels running around and also figuring out why they are running. I could look at the tree leaves colors and understand that it is becoming autumn and summer has left us. There is so much we can learn from nature by just watching it.

 

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

 

Eastern Hemlock: A Live History

tree 3One day 70 years ago around 1945 my beautiful tree was planted on the Dickinson College campus right near the Ben Rush statue near Old West and East College. She was about 5 when she was replanted into the lush soil that was our campus. She was so young and new and nervous about being so far away from her friends and family. She was the only one of her kind for quite some distance, and she knew this and knew that she needed to make her owners proud. As the years went on she saw many new faces come and go. A few stayed for longer than 4 years, but the majority of people she would meet and who would rest their backs on her trunk would leave her. Growing up she didn’t have many friends. She would try and bond with the trees around her but since she was so different she felt out of place and couldn’t make friends with any of them.

As the years went on she grew to be tall and strong. After 30 years of growing she was taller than all of the trees around her. She was stronger and mightier than everyone else. Unlike all those around her she kept her green needles all year and was the pride of winter. Everyone took pictures in front of her to celebrate the snow that has just fallen. When she got older all of the other trees realized that they wanted to be her friend, but she had developed the confidence to stand up for herself and say no because they didn’t appreciate her when she was a little girl. Her limbs would sway in the wind and some of her needles would fall on the tops of the heads of those who were passing by.

Years kept passing and she kept growing taller and taller. She kept seeing so many people in and out of the campus. One of her favorite events was graduation on the academic quad, because she always got a front row seat and was able to see all of her friends gradate. Graduation makes her sad because she has to say goodbye to the people who she has grown to love over the past 4 years, but then she remembers that there will be a new wave of students who will grace her presence and who she will grow to love.

Into the early 2000’s she is about 60 and is still as young as ever. She gets to see all of the people walking to class every day and enjoy the conversations that she is over hearing. She loves the gossip of who is dating whom and what party happened the night before. She never has a dull moment.

Now fast-forwarding to the summer of 2015 she is 70 years old and is about a forth through her life. She has seen a lot in her 70 years and has been though a lot. She has been hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and survived and the multitude of other storms that hit Carlisle, but nothing like that happened in the summer of 2015. One sunny day in July out of nowhere a huge storm came blazing through Carlisle. It was not like anything she has seen before. She was being pelted by raindrops and the wind was bending her every which direction. Out of nowhere BOOM! She was hit. She sees a huge part of her top stem fall to the ground and hears a thud. She was hit by a lightning bolt, which took a large portion of her top off. The next few days she was saddened by her loss but knew that she needed to fight on. Mark Scott, her doctor visited her regularly to make sure her vitals were okay.

Then I came along. I was a new face for her since I had never been on the side of campus much. She recognized me from the summer sitting by her. She could tell that I was someone special, even if it was only going to be for a few months. To this day is still fighting and dealing with her battle wound, but she is stronger than ever.

She’s a survivor

IMG_4739The day I discovered who my tree was going to be for the rest of the semester was a good day. Listening to Mark Scott talk about some of the trees was interesting, but when we got to mine, I knew it was meant to be. This tree was perfect, and I knew I had a connection with it right from the start. She is strong and has been through a lot and I knew that I would be able to learn a lot from her about life and struggle in a way that I haven’t been able took. She is a fighter. She is an Eastern Hemlock that is over 70 years old and is about 33m tall, now. Over this past summer there was a rather large storm that hit Carlisle. During this massive storm she was hit by lightning and the top few meters of her stem was severed off. She has lost her top, but is still surviving through the pain and is struggling. During this time I told her I would help her through her rehab and make sure that she stays strong and knows that she is important.

She is located in the middle of the academic campus right in front of the Ben Rush statue. She stands tall and mighty though people may look at her and talk poorly about her. She may not be the most visually attractive tree now that she lost her top, but she is still beautiful to me. She is one of the few trees on campus that has not been attacked by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. This parasite feeds on the trees sap and takes all of its nutrients away from it and starves the tree, thus causing it to die. My tree not only survived being decapitated but also is surviving and fight for her life against the horrible Adelgid beast. She truly is one of a kind.

Most of the time we look at nature of its beauty right away. We look at trees and admire the color of their leaves and their wide stature, and if we see one that isn’t so colorful or tall we look past it, but is this always the best thing to do. I look at my tree and don’t see a topless weak tree, but a strong tree wanting more out of life than just her 70 years. I see something that is willing to fight on to prove something of herself to the world. She is more than just a tree to me. Even though she may not be able to shade the ground as much as she used to she will get back to the point. Now she is letting the ground below her to flourish and possible new plant life is spring up with the opening of her canopy below. This tree is showing me that we can’t just look at life in an negative way, I personally consider myself a realist and would have said before that this tree has no hope, that with such a huge portion of her gone she can’t survive, but I am wrong. With care and support she can survive, as any of would be able to.