There is so much about Pop that I love. He will become a tall and handsome tree three times the age of an average human lifespan. He will bloom every spring and these beautiful bright yellow flowers will emerge and provide energy for bees and butterflies (plus they smell amazing). It is used often as a reforesting species because of their rapid growth. Tulip trees have been around since the age of the dinosaurs. They grow taller then oaks or maples and make great loop hammock trees because of their sturdiness. I have learned so much from this project and Pop. I have a new found appreciation for nature and the human condition, it is a whole new world.
To me, Pop is a friend and an important part of the environment here. He provides a home for so many of the native organisms, especially cardinals (they are one of my favorite birds). He is a home for so many insects as well. From the ants to the bees and butterflies that visit his yellow flowers in the spring, he does it all. He has seen so much on this campus too. The many students he has listened to and heard their concerns, fears and doubts. He is part of a beautiful campus that is as photogenic as Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic, which happens to be one of Pop’s favorite movies). He may be a young tree still but he’s part of a huge system. Trees release the oxygen we need to breathe and the dwindling number of trees equals a dwindling amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. Pop is helping to combat this. Every tree is a part of this ecosystem just as we are all part of the ecosystem in which we live. Pop also really enjoys where he lives and the experiences he has been a part of. He is very connected to this campus and the people who inhabit it.
According to NEP (New Ecological Paradigm) humans are just as much as part of nature and my friend Pop (the tree I haven’t mentioned his name in awhile). We all have a part to play in this world and we are all part of the same shift and changing environment. Our lives are equal in value and worth. We expend energy and live together in harmony.
According to HEP (Human Exceptionalism Paradigm), humans are above nature and there doesn’t need to be a relationship between humans and nature. The only exception is that we aren’t meant to use these recourses to any extent we deem necessary. Natural recourses are there for the taking regardless of how it affects the environment. Unfortunately, I think this is how a lot of people think theses days. We have lost our connection with nature due to the rise of large cities and suburbs. I wish that more people understood our relationship with the natural world; we are just as much a part of it as the other animals and living things. To preserve the land we have left, we need to understand that we are animals too and all apart of an ever connected ecological system.
As I walk to my tree after class, the sun is low in the sky and even though it’s only late afternoon. The leaves on all the trees are turning and falling with consistency now. As I near my tree I stop to wonder at the beauty of a sugar maple who’s leaves are a deep red yellow. As I approached my tree I can see how he has lost the majority of his leaves in one week. The ones still attached were becoming more and more yellow and brittle. The veins in the leaves have become dark and hollow. Everything seems just as slow as the week previous and the air is cold now. There is briskness in the walk of the students they pass by. They seem to be trying to hurry out of the wind and cold air. The squirrels are darting around still, stopping every few feet to make a small hole in the ground. It has been nice to actually spend this time with my tree. I have actually started writing again. I’ve found out more about myself.
Today the leaves have become more yellow in color. Almost half the tree has turned now. Some of the leaves have actually fallen and surround his speckled trunk. I’ve noticed today that the thicker parts of the trunk have shallow white furrows in it. After some research, I learned that the more the tulip poplar tree grows the larger and darker these white furrows become. I noticed there were less insects crawling around and on the tree. The ants that had been crawling around the trunk were less active and fewer in number. Life seemed to have slowed down a bit in preparation for winter.
My tree was very still in the air as I approached. There was not a breeze so his leaves hung mostly still. From far away, the bark looks a smooth pale grey but as one gets closer, dark speckles start to appear. His branches and trunk are very skinny and straight with the same speckled bark. The leaves are transitioning from green to yellow with some of them more yellow then others. His leaves have four lobes with soft round edges. They are veined with white tubes that carry the glucose to the ends of the leaves. Its trunk is lined with mulch in perfect circle. It is a dark brown color like the soil laying just underneath it. You never really notice what little details you miss on a daily basis until you look for them.
It is interesting the things you hear when you’re sitting under a tree. It was just after class started when I sat down. There were cars everywhere and the noises of engines and breaks squeaky were what I heard at the beginning. It was hard to drown out the noise of traffic but when I finally did, I could hear the birds fluttering above my head. They chattered and fused at each other as they moved from tree to tree. Then class let out and the human noise took over. People walked by and chatted about class and the never-ending meeting they were about to endure. They talked about their family and pets. One girl that walked by was talking about missing her dogs. Another walked by and was recapping a drunken night before to an exasperated friend (it was a week day). It really opens your mind when you spend some time just watching and listening.
I sat with him for a while the other day. The days were getting a bit cooler and his leaves were just starting to change. They turn a beautify yellow in the middles of November. There was a slight breeze blowing his branches around my head. In the moment I thought about all the leaves that he would produce in his lifetime. Tulip poplars can grow to be around 300 years old. That is an unfathomable number of leaves that would grow and then fall in the same year. And how many students will he see in his lifetime? As a young tree he’s already seen thousands, walking past day after day. The insects that call his branches home are numerous too. I originally sat down right next to an anthill that was built around his trunk. The amount of things that impact this tree and the world around him is enormous. The world will grow and change and he will have the privilege of watching it.
Journal Entry #3
Today I decided to let Pop do the talking. I wanted to tell you all a bit about his life and what he has been through but I feel as though it would be better if he told you the story himself.
Hi! My name is Pop and I live right on the pathway on the closest pathway to Bosler from College street. I have only been alive for a little over a decade but I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff here at Dickinson. I have seen the countless changing of seasons and thousands of students walking past on their way to class. I have come to recognize their faces. I saw the day our country was changed forever as the twin towers came down onto the streets of New York City. I saw a campus racked with grief in the aftermath. I then saw a campus come together to heal and support each other. I have seen the march on campus where students came together to protest the sexual violence policy. They made great strides that day for our community and now other colleges are following suit. I went through super storm Sandy and lived to tell the tale! Power was out campus wide and everyone was sequestered in their rooms for about 4 days. The wind was howling and I was having trouble staying rooted. Several inches of rain fell and the ground was water logged. My family and friends on the East coast were hit very hard and some towns were left bogged down but we made it through. Earlier this year year I decided to be part of a program where trees around campus are paired with a student. In September, I had the privilege of meeting the person behind this blog (she literally ran into me, that’s how we met). It was a wonderfully sunny day and I was very near to the end on this list of trees in the program. I was starting to grow weary after a good while but finally a group of student arrived and I was so excited to meet my new friend. She was the one looking up into the sky at the clouds and I tried to warn her but she ran into me anyway. It was quite comical actually. From then on we have been fast friends. So that was my life story in a nut shell. Hopefully I’ll get to talk to you all again soon!
Journal Entry #2
It was a beautiful sunny day and there were only a few clouds in the sky. A perfect day to meet a new friend. Unfortunately for me it would be in an embarrassing way to make a new friend. Mark Scott, an arborist at my school, was showing myself and a few classmates around campus talking about the lovely trees in the area. I had made it most of the tour without embarrassing myself, which is nothing short of an accomplishment, until we happened upon the second to last stop on the tour. I didn’t see that my classmates had stopped around something but being my usual self, I didn’t see this so I kept going, and ran head first into a skinny lad several years younger then myself. His bark was smoother due to his younger age and his leaves were a vibrant green with tinges of yellow here and there. Mark told me that his name was Tulip but everyone called him Pop.
It was a good thing Pop was such a nice guy. He made me feel a lot better about running into him (of course I still felt horrible because I stepped on his trunk a little bit but he wasn’t mad). We hung out for awhile after the tour and had a nice chat which gave me an idea. I think I’ll make him the subject of my new blog.