Save Bill!

Who could chop down a representation of possibly one of the greatest presidents that Dickinson College has seen since its establishment? Through the past 4 months, Bill and I have had countless memories, many laughs, maybe even a cry or two. IMG_0054I have sat beneath him, and painted him from afar. He has met my friends, and become my bestie. His beauty is admired by many who make the zig-zagging trips across the academic quad over and over again daily. My trip from Denny to Althouse to Denny to the HUB and back to Denny on any given Monday or Wednesday are made more delightful by the prospect of bumping into Bill or even just admiring him as I pass. I understand that his beautiful wood could be used in a more “practical” manner for us humans, his existence brings happiness to many.

Admiring the changing leaves with my buddy Bill.

Admiring the changing leaves with my buddy Bill.

He is a bright leaf on a rainy day. He is a gust of fresh air to remind us that we are much better off than Beijing in terms of air pollution. Even if you’ve never consciously acknowledged that Bill accompanies you on your long walk across the academic quad, please know that he is just a child. He has a long, healthy life in front of him and deserves the best possible chance at survival. He is strong, durable, and brings a glimmer of hope to not only me, but to many others each and every day. Please, avoid a scene like the one pictured below and vote to Save Bill!

No parent (or friend) wants to experience this.

No parent (or friend) wants to experience this.



I want you!

How does one define the worth of another? A human? An animal? A tree? Perhaps they are defined by the satisfication of our waking desires.


I want fresh air. I want open space. I want shade on a sunny day. I want to jump from your branches into a pile of leaves. I want a trunk to lean against, where I can read a book. I want evidence that winter is coming. I want to see new life in April. I want to watch squirrels bury their nuts in your soil. I want a beautiful landscape to watercolor. IMG_0205I want an ecosystem for insects that would be squashed anywhere else. I want to hear the rustling of leaves. I want to decorate you with twinkling lights when the holidays are coming. I want to know when the rains are coming by seeing those leaves flipped around. I want to water you when the summer has been hot and rainless. I want to press your leaves in a book and keep them for years to come. I want to have my friends admire you as they walk by.

I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to smell like cheese like the other tree closer to the walkway. I don’t want you to yearn for water. I don’t want you to be naked during the cold winter months. I don’t want anyone to cut you down. I don’t want you to become a canoe, a house, or a whiskey barrel. I don’t want you to be forgotten. I don’t want you to get Armillaria root rot and I definitely don’t want you to get a fungal canker either.

I want you to grow. I don’t want you to be cut down. I want you to provide the happiness and comfort that you provided me this semester to another. Student or not, your presence is a present and adored by all.

Just Hangin' with Bill.

Just Hangin’ with Bill.




The two paradigms that Catton & Dunlap discussed in their article, Paradigms, Theories, and the Primacy of the HEP-NEP Distinction, address contradictory world views of the environment. They argue that the Human Exemptionalism Paradigm theory claims that humans are the most superior beings on the planet, and they are in control of the environment, however it does not take into account that humans are, in fact, dependent on the environment. It wasn’t until the 1970’s, Catton & Dunlap argue, that humans realized that we are inextricably linked to the environment and are impacted by the environment, and actually place constraints on us as inhibitors.

While sitting with Bill this afternoon, and in fact after humanizing him at the beginning of my blog, I could not accept the HEP theory or worldview. Although arborists strategically placed this tree here, the tree limits the economic gains that Dickinson could have. For example, the Peddler Coffee stand could be placed on this triangle of land. Or, Dickinson could build a brand new building designed specifically for the sociology department (not that I’m bitter), thus contributing to the economic rise of the college. IMG_4824However, humans must realize their limits placed by the natural environment, and we can see Bill as not a tree who hinders economic progress, but as a tree who gives us humans shade, beauty, and actually health benefits! Bill helps clean the air that we humans breath, and provides a nice sitting area underneath. It is interesting to see how Dickinson actually uses their beautiful academic quad as a selling point for the college. The nature that is existent across the campus gives the school a picture-esque platform for encouraging students to come here.



Never Enough Field Notes!

DATE: Monday, Oct. 26, 2015

LOW:34 degrees F

HIGH: 60 degrees F

TIME: 9:52am

OBSERVED WEATHER CONDITIONS: Brisk & chilly in the morning, sun peeking through clouds. Quite a beautiful day.


SOIL: Bill’s soil is hard and cold this morning. It doesn’t look like a deep shade of brown, but lighter, and flakes easily. The soil is not consistent in texture, but instead looks like a rich combination of soil and mulch. See image 1.

LEAVES: Mostly green with a few brown, crunchy leaves. This confirms that Bill is in fact a deciduous tree. See image 2.

BARK: Coarse. Colors vary from silvers, to reds, to deep, deep browns. Bill seems to have a few freckles – they’re so cute. See image 3.

Image 1.

Image 1.

Image 2.

Image 2.











Image 3.

Image 3.



Fall Pause Leaves Bill Lonely


Lea meets Bill

As I jetted off to Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago for the Fall break, I forgot to invite Bill. Well, I didn’t really forget, but I did think it might be hard for him to travel on a plane with me. He says that he was only on a plane one time, but it was when he was a sapling and doesn’t quite remember the experience. Maybe he will feel ready to go with me next time. When I returned to campus, I felt badly about leaving him for so long so I decided to introduce him to one of my best friends, Lea. I asked her to give me some “thick descriptions”, since I had previously done my own which descriptions. To be honest, I think she belittled my assignment but she gave me a few quick thoughts. “The tree is obviously young because it’s significantly smaller than the others,” she began. “Bill, that’s what you call him right? Bill’s leaves are a cool shape, with 9 points on most of them, but none have changed colors from the season. Will they change? Is that a characteristic of oaks or are they like evergreen trees?” To be honest, I didn’t really know, so I made a note that I should follow the changes that the leaves go through as the weather changes.

I asked Lea what she thought about Bill and to give me some more descriptions of his surroundings. She said that his soil was dry and solid, but that was probably from the recent rain and then overnight chill. She said she actually recalled meeting Bill her freshman year, and he was always super kind and personable. Though he actually looks younger than before. “I wish the red adirondack chairs were still out, I feel like Bill would like the company,” Lea said, “However, he does have a very nice view of the academic quad and probably sees every student at some point during the day due to his positioning between walkways.”

We couldn’t stay long as we were headed to the Farmers Market but it was nice to catch up with Bill after the break, and introduce him to one of my dearest friends. Also, a friend’s opinion never hurts 😉

9 point leaves

9 point leaves

What a Wonderful World

There couldn’t be a better introduction to thick descriptions than Louis Armstrong’s, What a Wonderful World. And with that, please absorb the following field notes of Bill.

As I walked from Denny Hall to the HUB, after my last class of the day, I could see Bill from a distance. He stood solo on his own triangle of grass, placed purposefully between three converging asphalt walkways. Because Bill is so young, he is quite small, and looks disproportionate to the amount of space he was allotted on the academic quad. However, it is important to keep in mind that he will grow into the space with time. It is interesting to note his size and age in comparison to the other trees on the academic quad.  As I approached the tiny specimen, he gained more and more space in my visual sphere. His leaves came to life, and since it is early enough in the season, they are still green and alive from the summer sun. The leaves didn’t wilt, or rustle. Instead, they fluttered against each other in the calm, early autumn winds.

While keeping Bill as the focal point, I circled around him. Noting every angle and building in sight.


A panorama of Bill’s surroundings

What a lucky tree, to be surrounded by piles of granite, rich soil, and lots of bright students. In every direction, Bill has a new, unique and beautiful sight. Old West, Stern, Althouse, Bosler, East College, Denny, Weiss…the list goes on.



“And I think to myself….”


Sources: Armstrong, L. What A Wonderful World. 1967. Song. Accessed:, Oct. 10, 2015.

“Paint me like one of your French Trees”

Paint me like one of your French trees, Bill said to me last Tuesday.


I didn’t know he was so up on Pop Culture, but I was impressed by his charming nod to Titanic. So, I decided to pull out my watercolor pad and begin sketching him.

My first art supplies

My first art supplies for Bill

As I am not a seasoned artist like Aldo Leopold, I decided to hold off on actually painting until my next visit with Bill (also, the school bookstore did not have watercolor paints so I have to go somewhere else to buy them). Therefore, I used watercolor paper, with pencil so I could make as many edits as I wanted. Once the lines were finished (or at least I thought they were), I used the sharpie to outline.

I began by pulling up a classic red Adirondack tree from the academic quad, and positioning the tree so that Old West, the staple of Dickinson College, was angled behind Bill. As I am not trained as an artist, I didn’t go into the drawing process with an agenda. Instead, I did bits and pieces of the painting.


A view to get you into the artists’ (can I call myself an artist…?) head.


For example, I started with the walkway and the base of the tree. Next I started with the outline of Old West, and roughly sketched all of the trees in front. The windows proved to be the most tedious aspect of the drawing as there were so many! Once I began, there was no stopping me. It was a beautiful day and I was inspired by my subject. I am mainly excited to use the watercolors to finish my masterpiece. Even thought I am drawing Bill for a class, I do feel inspired to continue doing art. Perhaps I will create Bill in a different medium in the later blog posts I do.


A sneak peek at my progress. Cut me some slack!

A sneak peek at my progress. Cut me some slack!




Sources: Titanic. Dir. James Cameron. 1997. DVD.

Sensing Bill

There are different types of thinking. What works for one, may not work for another.

I have a busy mind and even busier days, so focusing on one thing at a time can be extremely difficult. My thinking condition is directly affected by my surroundings, and must be shifted depending on what type of thinking I need to conduct.


My ideal working conditions.

When focusing on and analyzing empirical data, which I do for many of my assignments as a sociology major, I need a sterile, organized, and quiet environment if I plan to be as productive as possible. When I do some of my more self reflection, that tends to be in the shower because I am comfortable, alone, and have time to let my mind wander.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to tap into my more creative thinking as often as I would like. Subconsciously, I’m sure it happens, but I need to work on bringing this to the conscious.

After reading A Sand County Almanac, Leopold’s sensitive observations to the natural environment around him have inspired me to tap into my more “in touch” side. Leopold has an eloquent way of describing, so as I sat with Bill, I tried to use his techniques.

Today, Bill is a bit damp from last nights’ rainfall. Though there are no drops of water collected on his leaves, his bark is a darker shade of brown, with an almost mushy top coat. Because water has filled the pores of his leaves, they do not rustle with the quickness and crispness that a typical fall tree would. Fall has not placed its magical touch upon Bill, forcefully moving his youthful green leaves to a shade of orange or red or brown. He is aging slowly, as a tree of his age should. His smell is simple – clean and oaky. Because the sun is covered by a thick coat of clouds, the sun is unable to cast Bill’s shadow on the ground below him. Perhaps with the addition of sun on Bill’s flesh, he will create a whole new set of sensations for me during our next visit.

Familial History

We met on a sunny day, quite different than today’s gray gloom. I had heard rumblings that Bill had quite the impressive family. His Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, was actually the hull of the USS Constitution in 1797 and

Another rainy day in Cardrizzle

Another rainy day in Cardrizzle

had explored the waters across the North Eastern United States. His aunt was an esteemed doctor who was notorious for relieving diarrhea (cool…), shrinking varicose veins, and curing colds. His cousins are a bit snobby though, and think they are better than the rest of the family just because they create the barrels used in whiskey and bourbon production (don’t tell Bill this but I hear that they make some fine spirits!).




Bill stands at 16 feet tall, and his slender build clocks him in at 3.5 inches in diameter.


I also learned a fun fact about Bill today. His birth name, Quercus Alba, means “fine tree”. And a fine tree he is 😉


For Now,





Journal Entry 1


Today, my friend, and also the Dickinson College Arborist, Mark Scott, told me that he was going set me up on a date. This would be my first date in just over a year and my first blind date EVER.

Our first photo <3

Our first photo <3

He was setting me up with his mutual friend, Bill whom he described as young, appropriately taller than myself, on the slimmer side, and with the greenest leaves you have ever seen. Clearly I was excited. I picked out a cool outfit – white shorts and a Cavs tee (in case the conversation was dull and we could talk about Lebron – EVERYONE loves Lebron).

I knew, from the very first second that he was the one. His thin, yet strong trunk held him firmly in the soil beneath. His leaves, the deepest of green, complemented my eyes, and the way his branches rustled in the wind reminded me of my childhood.  

Pondering Life.

Pondering Life.

Although he wasn’t strong enough to support me yet, I knew that with time he would grow, as our relationship also grows. Getting to know Bill was fun, and we swapped stories all night. Bill is originally from Albany, New York, which is right across the lake from me. He’s actually quite the accomplished guy, has his PhD, was the president of a small liberal arts college, etc. I’m so excited to get to know him better. He asked me to plan the next date…I’m thinking a fall picnic – but we will see.


For Now,