This week I found myself among the palms, coconuts, and salty sea breezes. This landscape differs strongly from my location in the hardwood forest of centennial woods. Cypress trees, longleaf pines, and mangroves overtake the landscape with their greenery. In much contrast to the pines and maples of Burlington, the flora of southeastern Florida thrive in sandy soils and striking sunlight. The birds differ quite drastically as well. Seagulls and and the American white ibis dominate the bird populations.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida was inhabited by native tribes over 4000 years ago. Control over the area changed between Spain, England, and then finally the U.S during the era of European conquest. The fort was built in 1838, which dictated how the land was to be used for quite some time. The fort was abandoned in 1842 after the Second Seminole War and wasn’t settled again until the 1920s. The hurricane of 1926 halted all development until after the depression. in 1941, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park was established just outside of Fort Lauderdale. The land was never used for agriculture, as no crops could ever grow in the sandy soil. The Fort Lauderdale area is now almost completely developed, save the parks located around the city.
Not much has changed here in the past month, as temperatures have not warmed much at all. The Centennial Brook remains frozen over, and the ground is blanketed in a layer of fresh snow covering. There are a few new tracks that I found bounding across the bank of the brook as well. The ground and soil are far below the surface of the snow, though hardened by the freezing temperatures.
I would identify Centennial Woods as an oak-pine northern hardwood forest. There are eastern white pines, maples, oaks, and birches present at my location. The soil is well-drained, which is perfect for successional species like the eastern white pine. Species that frequent my location, such as grey squirrels, chipmunks, and white-tailed deer are known to prefer the habitats and resources found in an oak-pine hardwood forest.
On the other side of the bank was a track that appeared to be that of a diagonal walker. I wasn’t able to cross the brook to get to the other side to look at the track up close for fear of breaking through the ice. The track disappeared at the edge of the bank.
Based on the twigs and buds I was able to look at, I believe to have identified sugar maples, red maples, and white oak. I included a picture of a tree with diamond-patterned bark which I believe to be green ash as well.
For the second semester of my phenology project, I’ve decided to move my location a bit closer to campus. Walking 30 minutes to the Intervale in single-digit temperatures isn’t very appealing, as much as I love going to the Intervale. I think it’s great that there’s a natural area right on campus, and I enjoyed exploring it for a bit.
Exact Location: 44.4766, 73.1863
To get to my location, enter into Centennial woods off of Carrigan Drive and walk downslope until the brook first comes into view. Here on the curvy bank of the centennial brook is my new phenology location.
Throughout modern history, the land of the Intervale has been the most fertile land in Burlington and the surrounding area. Native American tribes such as the Abenaki grew their corn on the beds of the Winooski river where the Intervale now lies. In the late 1700s, Ethan Allen and his family established a homestead on the Intervale, and nearly 100 years later the Vermont Railroad would lay a track through that same land. In 1900 the Calkins, the Arns, and the LaCasse families established a dairy farm that would operate for less than 30 years. A devastating flood would come through in 1927, not only to the Intervale but to all of Vermont. In 1944 a municipal dump was established at the intervale, which would remain in operation throughout the 1970’s until it would eventually be outlawed. In 1977 VT Rt. 127 was built through the Intervale, greatly disrupting the land and the wildlife there. People would continue to dump their trash at the Intervale until the 1980s, when Will Raap founded the Gardener’s Supply Company, and the city of Burlington rezoned the Intervale to exclude it from industrial and residential growth. Then finally, in 1988, the Intervale Foundation was established. That foundation would grow into the Intervale Center that exists today.
Evidence of this history can be observed throughout my location. Old car parts and pipes can be seen peeking up from within the grass, and the train bridge that crosses the Winooski is still in operation. The trail on which my phenology spot is on is called the Calkin Loop, named after the family that owned a dairy farm on the Intervale. The relationship between the Intervale and humans has been a long a complicated one, but as time has gone on, it has become a healthier and kinder relationship that has benefitted the land as well as the humans who use it.
I am thankful to have had this single acre of land to explore throughout my youth. It was shared between my brother and I, and all of our friends throughout our school years. It wasn’t always fenced off from the acres and acres of farm land and forest that lays adjacent to my house. In years past my family and I would always do a survey of the land throughout each season, which ended with us running up the most picturesque hill that overlooked my entire town. During our winter hike we’d be sure to grab a sled for the hill. This land we used to explore was fenced off from us when an apple grower came in and bought it. Only a fence hop away, our favorite seasonal walk is still accessible to us, though it has lost that element of wildness, that it may never get back now that is has been touched by civilization. Birches, oaks, maples, and pines surround my backyard, and give me a sense of familiarity wherever I encounter them. Pileated woodpeckers, morning doves, chickadees, and the Autumn crow have greeted me with the songs each morning for the past 15 years in this home, and will forever be the sound of home wherever I hear their call.
Comparison as wright:
The Intervale is a piece of land entirely dependent on humans. From the crop fields, to the incinerator, to the planes flying constantly above, humans are constantly present. In fact, my backyard and beyond doesn’t differ to much from the Intervale. Over time famers have come in and done different things with the land, first making it a corn field, then soy, and then an apple orchard. Automobiles can constantly be heard from within the neighborhood as well as from the busy Route 9 that runs on the other side of the field, opposite my backyard. Perhaps I’m drawn to these types of places, those that have a distinct mix of human and wild. The rushing waters of the Winooski river flow though my spot at the Intervale, but no bodies of water can be found in my backyard. This simple difference creates different land use intentions for each location, and attracts different wildlife too. Silver maples can be found at the intervale, but none in my backyard. Oaks and pines can be found in backyard, but not at the Intervale. Both are equally affected by the coming of winter, as leaves have fallen already, birds have flown south, and crop fields are mostly left alone for the coming months to allow the land to replenish itself.