May is a month for new beginnings. I am about to finish my first year at college, marking the last time I will ever be a freshman (hopefully). In just one week, seniors will be graduating and beginning their new journey as real adults. And even the trees are beginning to bloom and start their new cycle. My phenology spot is no exception. Buds are showing and the grass is growing here. It is an exciting time, phenologically, and I am glad I was able to witness it. The only tree I was able to identify was the birch tree that my good friend Aaron is so kindly hugging.
In thinking about the end of my time at my phenology spot, I have been thinking quite a bit about my place within it. While I only come and go once a month, I feel as though I have left a sort of mark. While I am avid about practicing LNT (Leave No Trace for those of you that are unfamiliar with that terminology), I know that my presence has still made an impact. Even if it was as simple as moving a branch or
stepping on a twig, I know that I was felt by all the species in this spot. One thing I learned in my Intro to Environmental Studies class is that you can never do just one thing. This means that I can never simply enter and exit the natural area with no impact; every action has a subsequent reaction. And while I may never know what that reaction was, it could have been stepping on and killing a small bug or scaring off a woodland creature, I can be certain that my presence was felt. This is why I believe in LNT, because even when you think you are having no impact, you are. This is where nature and culture cross.
How humans act in their environment is defined by their culture and, unfortunately, on college campuses, that culture is not always environmentally friendly. This place seems to be a place for students to partake in stereotypical college activities which include the consumption of illicit substances, e.g. drugs and alcohol. Students leave the trash from these substances behind, which can have detrimental affects on the environment. Leaving cans or cigarette buds can disturb the composition of the ecosystem and hurt the species that inhabit it. This is one example of the unfortunate effects humans can have on nature.
It is because of situations like these that we should strive to do more for our environment. Recycling, reusing, reducing, and composting are just some of the ways in which humans can have a positive impact on our environment to help remediate some of the problems we’ve caused in the past.
In closing, I would like to thank you, reader, for joining me on this phenological journey. I was learning as you were, and I am glad to have been able to experience that with you. I hope you, as I have, will look at natural areas in a different light after exploring the changes occurring in both the Not-Quite Redstone Pines and my new spot that I unfortunately never came up with a name for. Finally, I would like to thank these two natural spaces for provided endless mystery and merriment. I will miss them both dearly.