I heard the news last night. It’s horrible news I don’t want to even consider as a possibility. Dickinson College has decided to cut down various trees across campus and Herman might be one of them. I have grown attached to Herman since we first met. I remember sleeping against his trunk in the shining September sun. He protected me from the rain during a walk into Bosler when I didn’t want to get my hair wet. He provided the entire population of Dickinson College with oxygen in order to help with the survival of the students, professors, and faculty. After all that Herman has done not just for me but the entire campus, the college is debating cutting him down. This will not happen. I refuse to give up without fighting for Herman because I know he would fight for me.
Herman has given so much to Dickinson College. This is his home. He cares about all of the students and staff and they care about him. By cutting him down, Dickinson would lose an important member of the community. Students walk by him on a daily basis and admire his beauty and strength on their way to various language classrooms in Bosler.
Additionally, I care about Herman more than I think the college understands. Herman is a friendly tree on campus that is always happy to see me. Whenever I pass him he always gives me strength to continue onto my next class. If I am stressed about an upcoming exam or paper, he encourages me to continue and finish my assignment to the fullest. Without I would feel discouraged and alone.
Lastly, Herman reminds me of home. I get very homesick while at college and Herman helps me to realize I am closer to home then I think. There is a very similar Northern Red Oak in my front yard in Massachusetts. By seeing Herman on campus I realize that while I may be a 9-hour drive away from my bedroom, I feel like I belong. He makes me feel more comfortable being away from everything I know and love. By cutting down Herman, I would forever be upset that such a kind and gentle tree was removed for absolutely no purpose.
Herman the tree has been around for years. He has seen the creation of the new Kline Gymnasium; hundreds of students graduate the limestone walls of Dickinson College, and even more enter into Old West during convocation. Throughout his time on campus, he has given so much to the Dickinson community.
First, Herman provides shade during the hot summer months. When his leaves are in full bloom they create a canopy that forms a giant fan. The leaves block the sun from streaming below them, creating an area of shade that is hard to find in nature. His leaves allow people to sit underneath the tree and read a book or take a nap without the worry of getting sunburnt or overheating.
Additionally, similar to protecting from the sun, the leaves also allow protection from the elements such as rain and sleet. While they do not completely prevent people from getting wet, the leaves would provide a little protection if there was no place to duck into quickly. Herman’s leaves attract the water and hold onto them, preventing them from falling onto the heads of passerby’s.
Lastly, Herman creates oxygen that allows humans to breathe. Herman’s entire existence is dedicated to helping humans survive through protection from rain, shine and creating the air that is used everyday. Hi dedication towards creating a more enjoyable environment for humans is heartwarming. However, humans continue to destroy trees just like Herman everyday. The trees contribute greatly to our survival, however they are destroyed as soon as we see fit. The life of a tree is oftentimes sad and depressing. Herman satisfies all human needs that he can in return for little to no gratitude.
There are two main paradigms in environmental sociology. They are known as “HEP” and “NEP”. They represent two drastically different theories of knowledge in the field of study. Catton and Dunlap, two specialists in environmental sociology, analyzed the relationship between humans and the environment through these two paradigms. They described “HEP”, also known as the “Human Exceptionalism Paradigm” as a relationship where humans are superior to their environment. However, in contrast to that, they also explained the theory of “NEP”, also known as the “New Environmental Paradigm” which focused on the dependence that humans have on their environment and human societies.
Through observing Herman and forming a relationship with him, I have come to the conclusion that I believe in the “New Environmental Paradigm”, also known as “NEP”. I do not believe that humans are better than the environment. Without the environment we would not be where we are today. Also, through human actions we have begun to destroy the planet, however we have formed big issues through our destruction. We need the environment to survive, which demonstrates how we are not superior to it.
Additionally, the environment can destroy humans just as easily as humans can destroy the environment. Through natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornados, millions of human lives have been lost, showcasing the power that the environment can have over humans. Herman has lived and survived on Dickinson’s campus for years and the idea that humans are superior to the environment baffles him. He has seen torrential rain, wind, and snow have massive effects on humans and their possessions. Personally, Herman has told me that he believes in “NEP” as compared to “HEP” and hopes to spread his beliefs to others.
Seeing Herman for the first time in over a week is an emotional encounter. I circle his trunk and make sure he looks as perfect as he did the last time I hung out with him. I glance up at his leaves and notice they are changing deeper shades of red, orange, and yellow. There is very little green still showing, proving that autumn is in full swing. I stare at the ground and notice a blanket of leaves surrounding Herman’s trunk. They all seem to be wet and sticking to the ground, not crunchy like I imagine fall leaves in my head.
Herman’s trunk is also wet and a much darker shade of brown then I remember it. The rain that had occurred earlier in the day had clearly hit my tree hard. Luckily there were no broken limbs or branches. Herman appears to be a very healthy tree. He is strong and nimble and his branches wave in the strong winds. I sit down against his trunk and close my eyes, listening to the sounds of nature around me.
I hear the birds chirping, the last few that haven’t flown south for the winter yet. I hear the rumbling of cars as they start their engines on the busy road to my right. I hear a squirrel in a nearby bush running around looking for food. I open my eyes take a long look around me. I am in love with my surroundings. The area in front of Bosler where Herman is located is one of the prettiest areas of Dickinson’s campus. To the left of my tree is Old West, the oldest and one of the most picturesque buildings on campus. The view surrounding Herman makes me thankful for all I have in the world. I am given the opportunity to attend such a prestigious and expensive school and to observe a tree on its beautiful campus.
I gather my belongings and slowly walk away from my tree. I know I’ll be back sooner than ever and can’t wait to spend more time with my dear friend Herman.
This is my second day of taking field notes. Currently it is Tuesday, October 13th around 11:00 AM. The last time I recorded field notes it was a sunny Saturday. Now the sky is a light grey color covered in thick dense clouds. The ground is wet with the remains of rain that ended maybe half an hour ago. I decided since the ground was wet to opt to sit on the steps of Bosler instead of against my tree as I normally do. I have a completely different vantage point than I did previously. Now I can see not only the entire academic quad, but also my tree in front of me. I have always been leaning against Herman and never had the opportunity to observe him in my field notes, just his surroundings.
When I look at Herman I feel love for my tree. I never thought I could become so attached to a Northern Red Oak but I have. I have now been spending time with my tree for 7 weeks and I can’t wait to have this connection with Herman all the way through my graduation. Looking at Herman I notice his trunk. It’s a perfect light brown shade. The ridges on his trunk form an intricate pattern, almost like a maze. Moving my eyes up to his first limb I notice that there are no longer ridges along his bark. The limb is smooth without a single imperfection. Attached to his limb is an array of leaves, dripping with excess water from the recent rain, in shades of green, red, orange, and yellow. His leaves are spread like a canopy or a fan, large but with a purpose. The farther up the tree you look, the more limbs appear. All of the limbs have the same structure of leaves, all still wet and starting to turn colors for the fall season.
Glancing away from my tree I notice two squirrels. They are chasing after each other almost as if they were playing a game of tag. They scamper behind some bushes near the busy road to my right and reappear a few seconds later. The squirrels continue to do this dance as I watch until they eventually climb a nearby tree and disappear from my line of sight. I look at my watch and cannot believe it is almost 11:45 AM. The feeling of serenity around my tree causes me to lose track of time when I’m with Herman. I’ll see you next time Herman. Stay perfect!
Glancing at the prompt for this week told me I needed to relax. Writing field notes is all about noticing the tiny things around you. I would have to let go of all the other ideas in my mind. I needed to forget about the big pile of homework waiting for me after I finished this tree journal. I needed to forget about the fight I recently got in with my older sister about a pair of shoes she had borrowed without my permission and had ruined on her night out. I needed to be one with nature and just concentrate on the task at hand.
I sat down at Herman in the same position I had for the past couple of observations. I stared straight ahead and tried to think about what to write. I felt like I had written everything I had needed to observe in the past couple of tree journals. I decided to start my observations small and work my way to broader observations. The grass directly in front of Herman was as green as if it had just been watered. The singular blades of grass themselves also were perfectly trimmed as if it had been mowed right before I had arrived at my tree. I noticed a beetle attempting to climb over some of the grass as if each blade was a mountain, another obstacle it had to cross.
My eyes wandered over to the other trees nearby. They dotted the academic quad with life that made it aesthetically pleasing. I looked up at the leaves on all of the trees and they were just starting to turn. The trees were various shades of orange, red, and yellow. They made the sky a beautiful array of colors. The combination of the vibrant green grass with the contrast of the slowly turning leaves and the azure blue sky created the perfect environment. I could observe here all day but I think I’ll leave the rest of my observations for my next set of field notes.
Walking to Herman was a pleasant walk today. The past few days have been raining, windy, and cold. I’m not going to say I haven’t wanted to relax with my tree but it has been much more of a push recently. Today the sun is shining, the sky us a beautiful baby blue, and it’s a nice autumn day probably in the high 60s. I lean my back against the tree like I have been for the past few days. I am now so familiar with my true that I know the exact location to lean against so that my back doesn’t hurt against the groves.
It’s about 3:30 pm as I write this and the academic quad is basically empty. I only see one or two students from my vantage point and they are quickly disappearing off into Althouse and the HUB. Their footsteps die away and I am left with just nature around me. I close my eyes and hear mostly silence. I expected to hear more birds singing around me but I guess they are either all sleeping or have already flown south for the winter. Instead, I hear the wind whistling through the trees. The crinkle of leaves almost seems to be amplified. I open my eyes and see a squirrel a few feet away from me standing stock-still. Suddenly, the squirrel flees into the tree about 20 feet to my right, sensing some unknown danger.
When I focus on listening again, I notice the constant rumble of cars on the street. I didn’t notice it at first but now that it has caught my attention I cannot get it out of my head. Herman if forced to constantly listens to the noise of human made structures all day long. I feel sympathy for my tree. He has been around longer than anyone who is driving the cars, but he has to endure their constant presence. I then realize that this is not just the reality for my tree, but for all nature. We disrupt and kill their environments with no thought about how it affects the surroundings. I vow in the future to think about Herman and the effects all of my actions could have on him.
Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.
What conditions do you think best in? The answer to that question would probably vary from person to person. Some would say they think best in loud and crowded environments. Others would claim that they need absolute quiet to be able to think coherently. Yet others still would say that listening to music is what helps them think straight. Personally, I would say I’m a combination of all three. If I need to think about memorizing something such as vocabulary words I tend to need an absolutely quiet environment. I cannot concentrate on definitions if even a single person is talking. However, if I need to think while I am reading a book the environment itself doesn’t really matter. I can read a book in the loudest of locations and still understand what I am reading. However, if I just want to think about life and contemplate, I listen to music because that helps me collect my thoughts. Currently I am listening to music since I am thinking about how I concentrate and think best. In order to think best I need to put all distractions away. I turn off all electronics and just listen to music. I also tend to like to sit in a comfy location. Whether that is in a comfy chair or even just sitting on the grass. Lying down also helps me think. That may go along with the idea of sitting in a comfy location but lying down helps me think best.
Sitting down under my tree gives me a whole new perspective on the academic quad. Herman appears to be one of the tallest trees within sight and offers a strong and large backing for me to lean against as I observe the surrounding world. Being so close to his slightly damp bark makes me smell a slight musty fragrance. Not necessarily bad but very earthy. The closest I could compare the scent to was the smell of freshly picked green beans. As bizarre as that seems, I remember my mom picking green beans from our garden and giving them to me to hold so we could eat them for dinner. As different as the green beans and Herman seem, the scents that linger remind me of each other. Closing my eyes I hear the babble of discussion from students as they shuffle across the quad. The noise comes in as a constant murmur, almost like a fly buzzing around. I feel my back against Herman’s trunk. The grooves along his trunk are digging into my back, making it uncomfortable to sit in some positions. Leaning back and relaxing I almost taste the crisp fall air. It’s a beautiful autumn day and the air feels like it’s biting into me. There is a slight sting in the way the air hits you and I almost seem to feel it on my tongue.
Before I know it 45 minutes has passed. I glance up and my headphones fall out of my ears. I had forgotten that I had been listening to music and instead had been focusing on the nature around me instead. I gather up my belongings and head home, past Herman, past Bosler, and all the way to the rear side of Morgan field, far away from my tree.
Leopold, Aldo. 1949. “A Sands County Almanac.” Oxford University Press.
Sitting under my tree I started thinking. This tree has been here longer than I’ve been alive. This tree probably was even alive before my parents were born. Situated directly in front of Bosler Hall, it provides shade and nature to the surrounding environment. I close my eyes and focus on listening to the sound of the birds singing and the wind whistling through the trees.
I think back to when the construction of Bosler Hall began. In 1886, Helen Bosler donated money to erect a building in memory of her husband who was a member of the class of 1854. While I am not certain when my Northern Red Oak was planted in the exact location it is now, I imagine that it was planted shortly after the creation of Bosler Hall. Northern Red Oaks easily live 500 years. That would make my tree still a baby in the eyes of the other Northern Red Oaks.
I decided to call my tree Herman after the family that helped fund Bosler hall. John Herman Bosler was Helen Bosler’s husband, and the reason the building was constructed. Without Bosler Hall, who knows where my sweet Herman would’ve ended up?
I float back to reality and notice that the sun has set and Herman and I are sheathed in a cloak of darkness. I had been lost in thought about the possibilities of Herman’s past and hadn’t noticed that everyone around me had wondered off into their respective dorms or into the library to do homework. I stood up from the base of my tree and brushed off the dirt that clung to my clothes. As I started to walk away, I felt the first drop of rainfall on my head. Suddenly, the clouds opened up and water started down pouring from the sky. I took one last glance at my tree and felt bad for it having to endure the torrential rain as I was about to enter the warmth and dryness of the indoors. It’s okay though; Herman has been here for hundreds of years and has experienced much worse then this. See you tomorrow, Herman!
I remember the day like it was yesterday. In reality it was about two weeks ago. The sun was shining and the birds were singing but all I could remember about that day was asking myself “why did I wear a long sleeve shirt”? The sun wasn’t really shining down more like beating itself onto whoever decided to hang out outside on this day. It had to be at least 90 degrees and I had decided to wear a long sleeve shirt. My environmental sociology class was having a lesson outside today. We were going around to various trees on campus and claiming them as our own for the subject of a semester long blog. The first few trees passed by but none of them interested me as being different. Then I got introduced to my tree.
Situated directly in front of Bosler Hall was a Northern Red Oak. Not just any ordinary oak though, this oak had something special about it. I discovered that it was a quickly growing oak that could grow upwards of 100 feet tall. It grows best in slightly acidic soil with a pH below 7. Just by looking at this tree I could tell that it was a healthy oak since it did not look yellow or calorific which would be due to a pH of 7 in the soil. I also learned that Northern Red Oaks are oftentimes used for lumber, which make them a useful tree in many industries.
Looking up at the tree that I now considered mine, I began thinking of all the possibilities it had. In just a few short weeks this Northern Red Oak would produce beautiful and vibrant leaves ranging in color from orange and yellow to a red that looked as bright as the sun. Soon the ground surrounding the tree will be littered with acorns in all shapes and sizes. Squirrels will be scampering around trying to collect every last one before the start of winter. After all of the acorns and leaves flutter to the ground, the tree will prepare for the winter of snow, sleet, and frost. While my tree may look dead and alone, I just know that as soon as the beginnings of spring start to appear, my tree will again repeat its annual cycle and begin to grow the new leaves needed for the New Year. I’m excited to watch my tree progress not only for the next three months, but also for the next three years.