Defending a Friend

If Dickinson College were to decide, hypothetically, to remove a handful of trees from its campus, there would be no winners; no matter which trees were cut down, the campus would suffer a loss. That being said, there are certain trees on campus that should definitely be protected from the sudden removal of trees, and the sugar maple outside of Althouse unequivocally falls into this category.

A sketch I made of my sugar maple.

A quick pencil sketch I did of my sugar maple. Save the sugar maple!

Compared to many of the other trees on campus, this sugar maple is still in its infancy. This sugar maple was planted about ten years ago, and has witnessed many momentous occasions on this campus. Even so, this sugar maple still has essentially its whole life ahead of it. Dickinson aims to take young people, and cultivate them into the best versions of self that they can be; denying this young sugar maple the same opportunity—to be guided and allowed to flower into the best version of itself—goes against everything Dickinson stands for. Cutting the sugar maple down at this stage in its life would be like extinguishing a flame that has just been lit.

In the ten years that my sugar maple has lived on Dickinson’s campus, it has seen multiple classes of Dickinsonians matriculate, thrive, and graduate; it has seen the departure of President Durden and the arrival of President Roseman; it has seen the daily comings and goings of students rushing to and from classes. It would be a shame if this future historian was not allowed to continue its work.

Generations of future Dickinsonians to come deserve to be able to see the sugar maple’s autumnal beauty for themselves. Sugar maples, known for the richness of their leaves’ color—in all seasons but especially in the fall—are breath-taking to behold. My sugar maple in particular is in a perfect location, standing at the crossroads of multiple pathways; its beauty can be appreciated from all angles, and it has a 360 degree view of its surroundings. If this sugar maple were to be cut down, the academic quad would be left with an open space that would seem out of place amongst the scattering of trees that dot it.

If trees were to be removed from Dickinson’s campus, my sugar maple should not be one of them. Removing this tree would be a crime against the environment, and one that violates Dickinson’s morals.

The Use-Value of an Invaluable Tree

Over the course of this semester, I have spent a lot of time with the sugar maple that lives outside of the Althouse building. Although the weather has changed and seasons have flown by, one common thread that holds together all of the times I have visited my tree is the emotion behind it; no matter what else was going on in other places on campus, no matter what assignments I had hanging over me, I always felt a sense of calm whenever my sugar maple and I were together.

In a society where everyone is always rushing to get from one place to the other, slowing down along the way to spend a few minutes with my tree every now and then was therapeutic.

Use-value is defined as “anything that satisfies a human want,” (Gould 1943) and my sugar maple has provided me with a very precious gift: it allows me to slow life down, if only for a few moments; it reminds me to take a few moments to myself every now and then to just breathe. This gift satisfies my want, my need even, to feel in control of the crazy journey that life takes us on and to not become overwhelmed.

On a larger scale, my sugar maple helps to satisfy the Dickinson community’s desire for a beautiful campus and clean air. In the spring and summer, my sugar maple stands tall and resolute with a lush crown of green leaves that stand out against the bright blue sky; in the fall, the tree’s green gems are painted with the warm, familiar tones of autumn, until they eventually rain down and gracefully drift towards the ground. No matter the season, my sugar maple works hard to purify the air that we breathe. My sugar maple also provides shade for the students and faculty traversing the academic quad, and a resting place for the squirrels and birds that nest among its branches.

From a more global perspective, sugar maples as whole possess a more tangible use-value. The economic use-value of sugar maples satisfies the human desire of economic growth and progress. The sap from sugar maples is prized for its distinct sweetness. This sap is boiled down and processed into maple syrup, which can then be transported and sold all over. Additionally, maple wood is well-known in the furniture industry for its sturdiness. A chair, for example, made of maple wood may be sold to a family who the chair will continue to serve for years—decades even. One tree may satisfy both of these applications, spending its life bearing sap for syrup, until the day that it is eventually crafted into a long-lived and unique piece of woodwork.

There is no single way in which I could succinctly express my gratitude for all that my sugar maple provides. My only hope is that the love, care, and adoration that it receives on campus can begin to repay all of the favors that this sugar maple selflessly does for us.

Two Paradigms Surrounding an Exceptional Tree

Humans are driven by the promise of power and success, and—in our society at least—these things come along with economic growth. Our desire to succeed sometimes blinds us to the consequences of our actions. In the case of big business and industry, these oversights typically come at the expense of the environment.

In the context of industry, sugar maples are prized for their sap. There are certain guidelines in place that protect the well-being of maple trees when they are tapped for their sap, although the trees’ health depends on tappers’ adherence to these guidelines. In the interest of profit, it can be tempting to tap a tree past its healthy bounds. But doing so exploits the tree, and jeopardizes its health.  The over-harvesting of sugar maples’ sap is one example of how humans think themselves “above the law” when it comes to our relationship with nature.

20151202_133248_resizedThis belief system, succinctly referred to as the Human Exceptionalism Paradigm (HEP), holds that nature is merely a pawn that we can manipulate however we see fit. HEP does not take into consideration the consequences that our human actions have on the environment; these side effects are not viewed as important, so long as we humans are able to use the resource to achieve our goals. When the only goal is to turn a profit, the sugar maples receive no thanks nor accolades for their work—industry simply does not have the time to offer such praise.

On Dickinson’s campus, no one is exploiting my sugar maple. The tree stands guard over the academic quad, and lives its life relatively undisturbed. The New Ecological Paradigm (NEP), which is sometimes thought of as the “opposite” of HEP, is a school of thought that treats humans’ and nature’s relationship as more interdependent; NEP recognizes the fact that nature is its own entity, and deserves our respect. If humans use nature as a resource, we must do so conscientiously and sparingly, showing gratitude for the resources and opportunities that nature provides to us. NEP, I feel, is the more common attitude on Dickinson’s campus. The majority of the student body seems to understand that their actions have an impact on their natural surroundings, and that nature’s resources are finite. My sugar maple has never had to—and will never have to—fear being exploited. On a college campus, the trees only receive love and adoring glances; people do not ask anything of my sugar maple, and in return it wears its joy as bright, vibrant leaves that shade the surrounding pathways.

The Shedding of the Season

With all of the unseasonably warm days that we’ve been having here in Carlisle, the bare trees on campus, their tangled branches extended nakedly toward the clear blue sky, seemed somehow oddly out of place. It was one of the finally fall-like days that I decided to pay a visit to my sugar maple.

The air was crisp and dry, but not unpleasantly so; in fact, the slight chill in the air came as almost a relief after so many disconcertingly summery days. All of the trees on campus had already cast off their leaves quite some time ago by this point in the semester. The weather finally seemed to match the state of the trees.

The trees had finally all lost their leaves.

The trees had finally all lost their leaves.

I noticed that, despite the lack of leaves on the trees’ branches, there weren’t many leaves scattered along the ground either. I wondered absentmindedly where they had gone. As I sat and watched my tree from the front balcony of Althouse, a white Dickinson truck chugged along the pathways that etch themselves through the academic quad. A crew of groundskeepers emerged from the truck, and loaded their leaf-blowing equipment onto their backs—mystery solved. At first the men with their leaf blowers were quite far away, so that their machinery seemed to emit only a quiet hum. As time passed, I watched students walk to and from class.

Before the sugar maple underwent its autumnal transformation, it had rustled happily in response to the occasional breeze, its leaves waving in the wind. Now, the branches hardly budged in the breeze, and only the very thin branches tips wriggled silently. The groundskeepers were inching their way closer to me and the sugar maple, and the mechanical hum of their leaf blowers grew into a heartier buzz, and then an overwhelming roar.

My sugar maple no longer swayed in the breeze, but stood resolute.

My bare sugar maple stood resolute in its leafless surroundings.

Watching the leaves being forcibly relocated into neat piles, I realized how odd of a notion leaf-blowing is. Why spend some much time and effort pushing fallen leaves into centralized locations? The wind will only cradle them up and return them to their original location moments later. Why is having leaves on the ground a bad thing? Perhaps my Pennsylvanian childhood gives me a bias, but I have always thought that trudging through a thick carpet of warm oranges, reds, and yellows was just part of the fun of the season. For me, the leaves’ presence on the ground always adds a sense of uplifting festivity to the season—something much needed to combat the gloominess that accompanies the setting of the sun at unreasonably early hours this time of year. Why take the time, burn the fuel, or pay the wages for people to try to cover up nature’s natural décor? I smiled to myself at how ridiculous the leaf-removal ritual suddenly seemed.

Once the groundskeepers had finished, I surveyed their work. To their credit, they had done quite a thorough job; only a few lone survivors, deeply embedded in the grass, had escaped the leaf blowers’ vicious gusts. The sugar maple, as well as all of the trees around it, seemed very solitary without a royal crown of color surrounding its branches, or a ring of fallen leaves around its base. Without their unique shades and hues to distinctly identify them, and without the color to break up the monotony between the trees, all of their brown branches seemed to blend together against the gray sky.

The Sudden Passage of Time

Even when all of the other trees on campus began to change colors for the fall, the leaves of my sugar maple refused. The sugar maple’s leaves stuck out bright green against the warm orange and red hues surrounding them in the sky. For a week or two, it seemed as though the sugar maple’s leaves were never going to change—every now and then, one more pale orange leaf would emerge on the very tip of the sugar maple’s branches, as if the leaves were reaching their warm, orange-y tips towards the sun.

The sugar maple took its time changing colors.

The sugar maple took its time changing colors.

 

The other trees around the sugar maple were not waiting for their companion to catch up. It seemed as though autumn’s cool touch had passed my sugar maple by, until one day when I was walking along the academic quad and looked up to be greeted by half a tree’s worth of brilliant yellow and pale orange leaves. The newly transformed leaves were still in stark contrast with the jade-green, unaltered leaves, but they were quickly growing in number. Every day I would walk by on my way to class, another handful of leaves had transformed into bright balls of sunshine, until the whole tree looked as though it had been dipped in paint. It was as if the sugar maple had been hesitant to show its true colors, but once it had made up its mind, it threw itself carelessly into full autumn-mode.

Because the sugar maple had been slow to change colors, it was also slow to drop its leaves. The trees all along the academic quad started off slowly—dropping a few leaves here and there—until fall was truly in full swing and forgotten leaves scattered the walkways. The sugar maple watched contemplatively for a while as his companions shed their leaves, but again decided to throw himself full force into the feeling of fall. There was one Friday afternoon when I passed by my sugar maple on my way back to my dorm room in preparation for going home that weekend. I looked up at the sugar maple, and noticed that, upon quick examination, it appeared from the ground as though the tree’s branches were still full with the weight of its colorful leaves. It wasn’t until you really stopped to look that one could notice the bare patches near the top of the canopy—balding spots on the crown of my tree.

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The sugar maple’s brilliant autumnal leaves stood out against the calm, blue sky.

 

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The sugar maple’s bald patches were an unexpected surprise after just a weekend.

For humans, a weekend seems to rush past—if you’re going home for a weekend, the time leading up to your adventure and the travel time seem to dominate those few precious days—you don’t really have time to consider the fact that, in your absence, life on campus continues onward. Time still passes, days still go by. When I arrived back on campus, I passed by my sugar maple. To my astonishment, the sugar maple had discarded the majority of its leaves in the few short days that I was gone. The walkways that snake around the sugar maple were completely covered in the tree’s castoffs, and a few wayward squirrels, fattened by their recent hibernation preparations—were tossing aside these dropped leaves as they dug and foraged.

The sun’s rays no longer filtered through the abundant, lush leaves of my sugar maple on their way to the pavement, but hurriedly wriggled through the tangle of oddly bare branches to come to rest on the thick carpet of fallen leaves. Squirrels no longer sought refuge from the cold amongst the tree’s branches, as the sudden lack of leaves meant that the tree no longer offered any protection from autumn breezes.

I, in a very typical, human-centric way, had only thought about the passing of time from a human standpoint—I spent so long that weekend from place to place and worrying about making time for family while also completing assignments and meeting obligations for schoolwork that I didn’t think to consider that the passage of time was the same on campus and off campus. My sugar maple’s sudden transformation served as a very real reminder that time waits for no one, nor for any tree.

When People Behave Like Squirrels

With fall pause just around the corner, I took the time this afternoon to sit with my sugar maple for about half an hour, so that we might be able to relax and de-stress together. While I walked towards my tree, I couldn’t help but notice that the very tips of the upper leaves had been tinged with a deep red color.

The tree’s neighbors had all begun to change much earlier—as evidenced by the crisp reddish brown leaves strewn all over the ground and pathways that had clearly not come from my specific sugar maple—but my tree was taking its time. There was no rush; when you’re planted in one spot for years and years, time seems to slow down. There is no need to hurry, no need to race the other trees to see who can change colors the quickest. Compared to the other sparse trees around, my tree’s leaves still looked full. The green stood out against the sky full of bare, brown branches.

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The bright green leaves seemed out of place among the neighboring trees’ bright oranges and reds.

Like the leaves on the ground, the air was also crisp. There was a slight chill, but when the sun was shining directly on you, the temperature wasn’t overall unpleasant. It was common hour as a sat with my tree, meaning that the academic quad was abuzz with life. Students were rushing to and from classes, broad smiles on their faces reflecting their excitement about the coming fall pause. Professors, too, seemed to be in exceptionally good moods. Even the squirrels, who hopped around through the lush green grass looked to be in good spirits.

The squirrels, with the beginnings of their thick winter coats starting to show, are looking chunkier as they hurry to and from making last minute preparations for their coming hibernations. Every now and then, a cool wind would blow, and a shower of red would fall upon me as leaves from the nearby trees drifted toward the earth. Though I would shiver in response and pull my sweatshirt a little tighter, the squirrels seemed oblivious. Students would shuffle through the fallen leaves, some seeming to admire the splash of color on the pathways, while others seemed to not notice the forgotten leaves. The sound hurried feet shuffling through the fallen leaves was soothing-almost hypnotic in a way.

Modern society has a rhythm that nothing can derail, not even nature. People had places to be; they had no time to stop and admire their natural surroundings literally changing before their eyes. In a way, this realization made me feel a tinge of sadness, perhaps even guilt. I know that I, like the other students around me, definitely become too preoccupied with school work and other worries sometimes that I forget to appreciate my surroundings. Dickinson has a beautiful campus, dotted with many many different species and variations of trees and other foliage. The diverse landscapes never fail to provide visual stimulation as long as one allows them to be noticed.

As a sat on the weathered bench by my tree, I watched from afar as two squirrels foraged in the coarse mulch around my tree’s base.

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The smaller squirrel contemplated where he might have left his belongings.

Perhaps the squirrels were looking for something they had buried there before. The smaller of the two squirrels seemed determined to find what it was he was looking for; his eyes were glued to the ground as he scurried a few steps in one direction, scratched at the mulch to no avail, and then repeated the cycle again a few steps to the left. The larger of the two squirrels seemed to have given up on the hunt for his lost treasure; he seemed bored, distracted. It was as if the smaller squirrel had asked to be accompanied on the forage, and the larger squirrel begrudgingly agreed.

It was only a few minutes before the large squirrel could no longer withstand his ennui, and had begun inching his way closer and closer to the smaller squirrel, as if to get a rise out of him. The smaller squirrel, fed up with the larger squirrel’s insolence, chased the larger squirrel up the trunk of my sugar maple. The bark emitted harsh scraping noises in complaint as the squirrels’ small but sharp claws hurriedly gouged their way up the length of the trunk and into the tangles of leafy branches.

The squirrels, who were now angrily chirping at one another, their tails twitching in annoyance, seemed oblivious to the fact that the tree was its own entity; the squirrels saw the tree as merely a fixture that could be climbed, scratched, hidden in, or ignored as need be. The squirrels were too caught up in their own politics to stop and give thanks to the tree for housing them. In a way, perhaps the squirrels’ way of thinking is not that different from many peoples’ ways of thinking. How unfortunate it is that some people see nature as only something to be used, rather than something to be appreciated and marveled at. Perhaps if more people took the time to relax by a tree and watch the squirrels, they could see the flaws in their own logic.

The Sounds of Serenity

As the weather starts to turn colder, people try with all their might to grasp onto any reminder of the fleeting summer days that they still can. Today, with bright sunshine beaming down and the air a cozy 75 degrees, I tried to do just that. I had some time between classes to spend however I wanted, and I chose to sit on a bench next to my sugar maple.

As I sat with my tree during common hour, I was surprised by the amount of noise around me.

My sugar maple has begun to change colors near its top.

My sugar maple has begun to change colors near its top.

The roar of car and truck engines was very apparent as they all barreled down the street, eager to get where they were going. This constant buzz was interrupted every now and then by the screeching of brakes, or horns blaring. It was very difficult to get past all of the man-made noises surrounding me. Because it was such a beautiful day, people felt entitled to rev their motorcycles and contribute to the noise and air pollution. Every now and then the vehicular noise would die down just long enough for someone to shout across the academic quad to a friend.

All people around me seemed to be on the move. Everything seemed busy, hectic and chaotic. There was a cacophony of sounds, a blend of engines and horns and shouting voices. People seemed to be calling out just for the sake of calling out; as if they just liked hearing the sound of their own voices.

The squirrels were busy today.

The squirrels were busy today.

As the afternoon dragged on, people finally seemed to be reaching their destinations, and I eventually found my surroundings devoid of human interruption. There was a certain sense of calm around me. I was finally able to hear birds calling to one another, and crickets chirping. I was able to hear squirrels digging in the mulch and frolicking in the grass.

A gentle breeze would blow, and I could hear the soft thump of falling leaves as they touched down on the pavement. The leaves emitted a satisfying crunching underfoot of the occasional, solitary passerby.

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The leaves made a satisfying thud as they hit the ground.

Immersed in the relative quiet of nature, each individual noise somehow seemed more important, weightier; it was as if each sound had its own purpose. When only the sounds of nature could be heard, everything seemed extremely serene.

The trees contemplated their actions, and the release of leaves to the ground was calculated and premeditated. The squirrels carefully planned their every leap, assessed their next move. The sounds of nature seemed to work together, whereas the man-made sounds tended to grind against one another in a sort of competition to see who could be the most disruptive and jarring. The sounds of human society seemed deafening in comparison to their natural counterparts, as they drowned out the melodic wonders around me.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night

College students go to great lengths to avoid getting wet.

Generally, people do their best to avoid the rain. Especially on a college campus, the rain is oftentimes seen as dreary and inconvenient; something that only serves to soak through backpacks and jackets and shoes as students run between classes as quickly as possible. The rain, paired with cold weather, is a college student’s worst enemy. But what does it mean for the trees?

This past weekend, Carlisle was supposed to be hit by a hurricane. While hurricane Joaquin doubled back on itself and ended up avoiding the continental United States all together, Carlisle has still been experiencing many days of suddenly cold and rainy weather in a row. This kind of weather, which makes sitting inside and wrapping oneself up in a blanket with a cup of tea extremely tempting, got me thinking. Humans do their best to avoid being caught in this kind of weather, but how do trees respond? For trees, there is no respite, no running away from the cold. How does the rain make them feel?

 

It is much more tempting to observe nature from indoors on dreary days.

It is much more tempting to observe nature from indoors on dreary days.

These musings are the reason I spent a chunk of my Friday evening sitting outside with my tree.

At first, I was stuck inside my own head. I was fixated on the fact that it was cold, growing darker, and raining just enough to be a nuisance but not hard enough to warrant an umbrella. Why was I out here again? It was quiet, and everything seemed still. I doubted that anything interesting would happen. I decided to stick it out anyway.

And I’m glad that I did. I reminded myself that I was here to observe, to learn from the tree. Within a few minutes, I was beginning to see things differently.

The wind blew, and the leaves shifted and danced in response. Similarly, my raincoat shifted, which let the cold air closer to my core. I thought about the fact that the sugar maple’s thick bark protects the tree’s more sensitive core from the biting winds. As I watched, rain drops pooled on the sleeve of my coat and then dribbled off once their combined weight allowed gravity to pull them toward the earth’s surface. I thought about how the trees leaves also acted as a waterproof barrier upon which raindrops collected and eventually ran off of.

I quickly realized that, despite my initial thoughts, the lack of human-noise did not mean that it was quiet that night. I found that I was simply dismissing some sounds as background noises, and I made a conscious effort to register everything I heard. The sounds of the wind blowing through the leaves and the countless, misty raindrops beating against the tree, myself, or the pavement became soothing. The darker the night grew, the more I relied on my other senses to tell me what was happening around me. Perhaps trees do the same.

 

 

Sources:

The Weather Channel 2015. “Hurricane Central.” Retrieved October 4, 2015 (http://www.weather.com/storms/hurricane-central/joaquin-2015/AL112015).

Time Flies by in the Blink of an Eye

In the grand scheme of things, ten years is not a very long time. Most ten year old are just starting fifth grade. Maybe they will learn the basics of the scientific method, or how to add and subtract fractions. Perhaps they will begin to further their understanding of social situations, and how to properly interact with their peers. Most ten year olds are just beginning to experience life; they are just starting to notice the world changing around them. But for someone who is rooted in place, ten years can mean an eternity of observation.

The sugar maple outside Althouse has been a sentinel to the academic quad for just about ten years. From the time it was planted during the era of President Durden, this tree has lived amidst the hustle and bustle of collegiate life. On a day to day basis, the sugar maple stands silently, invisible to the hundreds of students rushing out of the HUB to avoid being late to class in one of the many academic buildings on the quad, only to see the same students meander back an hour later. Days fold into months, months fold into years. Some years are more interesting than others. Regardless, the tree watches. It stores its observations in the layers of its bark.

The tree oversees the main pathway on the academic quad.

The tree oversees the main pathway on the academic quad.

Spring 2005: the sugar maple watches, perplexed, as many, many students walk by all at once. Some look excited, some fearful. Others still appear to be in a daze, not truly registering what is about to happen. These students, all wearing similar clothes, file past the sugar maple on their way to the Old West building, where hundreds of folding chairs have been meticulously placed into rows the previous night. The students all sit, listen to an address given by the state governor, and then march down the steps of Old West. This is the sugar maple’s first commencement; one of many to come.

A few months later, the tree again witnesses a mass procession of students. This time, the students are not wearing matching clothes. The tree doesn’t recognize any of these students yet. Perhaps they are new here; they look young. Again, rows of folding chairs have mysteriously appeared during the night. The students sit anxiously in their seats, fidgeting as they are welcomed to Dickinson by President Durden. In a way, the sugar maple feels as though it is also being welcomed to the campus. The students applaud, and process up the steps of Old West. This is the tree’s first convocation.

Over the next ten years, the sugar maple continues to grow. Every year, it bids farewell to the graduating class as they walk towards commencement, and every year it welcomes a new first year class to the campus. This ebb and flow of students becomes routine, and the tree feels honored to bear witness to such important moments in these students’ lives.

The sugar maple also hears talk of a few more unique events during its first ten years of life. It hears of new buildings, new additions, new dedications. An archeology lab is built; Stuart and James halls are added to Rector, which becomes the new science building; the tree’s very own Malthouse becomes the new hub for international business and management studies, as well as economics studies.

The tree sees the start of various social movements started on campus, such as the first Run for Steph, the first of a series of Pride @ Dickinson progressive dinners, the first awarding of the Same Rose and Julie Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism. The tree also gets wind of replacement of President Durden with the college’s first woman president, President Roseman. For all of the campus’s festivities, tragedies, firsts, and lasts of the last ten years, this sugar maple has been a witness.

Flash forward to Friday, September 4th, 2015: the tree experiences yet another first. On this day, I was introduced to this sugar maple. This is the first time that the tree finally has a chance to become the observed rather than the observer.

 

 

Sources:

Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections 2014. “Timeline.” Dickinson College: Carlisle PA. Retrieved September 27, 2015. (http://archives.dickinson.edu/college_history/browse_timeline).

Learning to See the Trees

Most people, I’m sure, have heard the saying that one cannot see the forest for the trees. Figuratively speaking, this goes to show that people sometimes become too preoccupied by the small details in life and they lose sight of the bigger picture. Literally speaking, I think this saying is reversed.

One of the first things I noticed upon my arrival to Dickinson College three years ago was the amount of greenery on campus. The vast number of trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers, and other fauna dotting the landscape at the college makes the campus feel integrated into nature; it’s as if the buildings may have taken root amongst the foliage, rather than the other way around. But it many ways, the sheer volume of trees and plants on species obscures some of the ecological diversity.

It wasn’t until my Environmental Sociology class took a walking tour of the campus that I felt as though I was finally able to see the trees for the forest. Led by Dickinson College arborist Mark Scott, my class was introduced one by one to individual specimen of trees that all represent different species.  Until this point, I had never noticed the biodiversity amongst the trees on campus, only the volume of trees as a whole. I felt as though each tree we visited was a sort of ambassador for its species—serving as a link between my class and tree-kind as a whole— giving us a little insight into what life is like for their particular species of tree.

If you pass through the archway between the HUB building and Althouse, you will quickly stumble upon a beautiful Sugar Maple, which watches over the pathway between Althouse and Bosler. Originally native to Canada (think of the Canadian flag), the Sugar Maple has become a relatively common tree along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Commercially, Sugar Maples are prized for their lumber, and their sap, which has the highest sugar content of that of any type of maple, and is often processed into maple syrup. Aesthetically, these trees are valued for the shade they provide, as well as the brilliant colors the leaves take on in the autumn (Arbor Day Foundation).

 

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This particular tree, at about ten years old, stands tall and proud. It is a healthy specimen with thick branches that start about seven feet up the trunk and stretch about twelve feet further toward the sky. The branches and trunk are encased in a sturdy-looking, dark brown bark that is rough, and is stippled by splits similar to those that one might see on an overly-plump tomato. Currently, the leaves remain a deep green color, which is sure to begin changing in no time at all.

Surrounded by many towering trees on the academic quad, this Sugar Maple’s physical stature may not immediately set it apart, but it is a hidden gem. Now that I have begun to notice the trees for the forest, I will be sure to keep an eye on this beautiful tree. Especially now that the weather is beginning to change and the first leaves are beginning to fall, I am eager to see what surprises this beauty has in store.

 

 

Sources:

Scott, Mark. 2015. “Dickinson College Walking Tour.” September 4, 2015. Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.