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The walk to my phenology location was slippery and warm.  A slight difference to the walks I had taken there in the past.  I think back on the winter visits, looking into the tracks in the snow to try and spot some signs of life.  The majority of the time my spot is close to silent.  Occasionally I would hear a bird call or a twig snap, but the ordinary was calm and quiet.  I think of the first visits as well, scoping out the scene the first time being there trying to find the best location to use for this endeavor, walking around in a much drier Centennial Woods.  It did not really seem as though I had been very connected to this location at first, but with each visit I came to  be closer with the location.  Thinking back now on everything I had done there, from sitting in silence to going off the trails in search for vernal pools and salamanders after being inspired by my classmates, I do feel a sense of belonging when I visit.  It is inviting, welcoming, and familiar to me.

This location was a little ways off the trail, so close to the people who would hike the area but not close enough to interact.  I see myself as a connection between this place and the culture that now surrounds it.  I feel that I bring myself to the woods to learn and every time I come back I feel like I bring something with me (and not just mud that gets tracked onto the floor of my dorm).  Sometimes I bring back knowledge, sometimes it is just a feeling.  it is interesting that I could have never known this spot existed and now I feel like I can be comfortable there.

On this trip to Centennial Woods I was on the lookout for anything that could be a sign for spring growth in the forest.  In my location everything remained dead.  The ground had more snow on it, trees had yet to gather their leaves, and I had difficulties finding signs of life.  The peninsula is a prime location for amphibians, a muddy shore surrounded by slow moving water, but I had trouble seeing any.  Poking around in the damp O horizon my spirits were deflated when all I uncovered was a damp A horizon.

The edge of Centennial Woods is a ways from my location.  From the tip of the peninsula the only signs of nearby civilization are the forest trails and the occasional honk from a distant automobile.  I believe this location would provide habitat for interior species, should the weather conditions permit for the colonization of the land by these animals.  During this visit however, there were little to no signs of life.  The snow was icy from the rain and any and all tracks were washed away, the mud was mostly on the trails which were covered in boot prints instead of paw prints.  All in all, this trip to Centennial was a blue one.

One of my favorite parts of spring is the presence of the dandelion.

I found myself returning to Indian Brook over vacation.  I have been familiar with this location for a long time, having spending 18 years of my life just around the corner.  The natural area of this reservoir is mainly only accessible through the trail that runs along the body of water until it loops back around.  The natural area of my peninsula in Centennial Woods runs along the side of a stream.  Both locations are of similar climate, however the tree cover in Centennial Woods is significantly lower than that of Indian Brook.  Indian Brook also seems much more sedated, calmer and quieter.  As I passed my time there I only spotted a murder of crows and a few squirrels.  I wonder if I just was not perceptive or if the creatures knew I was approaching…

Before the 1940’s the forested area of the reservoir was only half of what it is today.  Being used as land for dairy farmers, as the industry slowly plummeted the Town of Essex decided to purchase the land and build a dam to supply the demand for its municipal water systems.  The reservoir is not currently being used as the water source for the town.  Its use was discontinued in 1973 when the town was connected to the Champlain Water District.

Indian Brook also has a high population of coniferous trees.  The majority of woody pants at the site have retained their pines, all those that can at least.  The saplings and bushes previously growing have stopped and become brittle.,-73.0968662,141m/data=!3m1!1e3


My area’s peninsula would be classified as an open or shrub wetland.  Much of the area has a meandering stream that causes the land to dampen in the spring time.  When walked to my location I almost lost my boot in some mud.  The land was occupied by swaths of phragmites and dominated by small shrubs along slick banks.

Since my last visit the most obvious change has been the increase in mud.  It completely changed the environment, the previously white bumps of snow are now brown squishy clumps pf dirt.  The most probable cause of this is the snow melt due to the warmer temperatures.

When using Biofinder on Centennial Woods I found that a large percentage of the land was high priority for protection.  I expected this given that the area is owned by the university for research and recreation.  They would want to take good care of it so it may continue to be used as such in the future.

I stepped back into the woods and a familiar feeling came over me.  I had not been to Centennial Woods in what seemed like years but, in reality it had been only two months.  Everything seemed so familiar but, much had changed, aside from the obvious snowfall and fallen leaves, it was quieter than before.  A lull had overtaken the scenery, there was no longer the sound of a lazy stream going anywhere.  It was as if the animals were tucked in with the arrival of the blanket of snow.  But this quiet was fabricated.  There were several tracks that clued me in to recent activity in the woods.   






















In this first picture you can see the tracks of a cotton tail rabbit.  This little guy seemed to be on his way to find somewhere warm to settle down.


Pictured here is the bud of a sugar maple.  Identifiable by its pointed brown buds.

Other deciduous tree species I was able to identify were, American Beech, Norway and Red Maple, and Basswood


Centennial Woods is an urban forest, it is because of this that I expected it’s land use history to be very involved with human development.  As I researched, I came upon information which confirmed my theory.  The land on which Centennial Woods sits was once owned by five other people: Baxter (1891), Ainsworth (1904), Hickok (1908), Kirby (1938), and Unsworth (1968).  The area was also documented as being occupied by Native Americans and Euro-Americans.  This land was once used for farming purposes before being turned into the natural area we know today.  It is interesting to me that this land so close to the developed area of Burlington has been able to successfully go through so much change and growth.  Once the land ownership changed hands to the University of Vermont the forest was really allowed to thrive.  The school protected the land and let the forest continue to grow.



The leaves have almost completely disappeared from the deciduous trees.  The dry path has also become muddy, tracks are able to be left.  I expect that soon the land will be either covered in snow or be frozen over.  I also expect that the little stream rolling through my location will slow, or completely stop flowing.

Light green and brown this land is grown.

But I believe it is soon to die, covered by

the cold to come.  It is lonely here although

there is evidence that others have been here,

I do not see them.  I have not seen them.  The

wind whips me and I sense that I am no longer alone.

A scuttling here, a rustle there, and a bird asks if anybody

is close in the distance.  No response.  There is life around

but it seems distant and disconnected by a shivering shadow.

It darkens everything.  But there is hope, with the slowing

of the surroundings, everything seems familiar.  This has all

happened before.  And with the slowness and eventual stop

comes a spring, a quickening and brightening.  Becoming

alive again, thawing out, the shadow is pushed away by the heat

from the sun, bringing warmth and life with it.

My location has undergone several environmental changes since my previous visits.  The entire forest seems quieter, most animals have started to settle down and prepare for the winter.  Some trees have begun to lose their leaves, painting the ground orange, brown, yellow, and red.  I could occasionally hear birds chirping somewhere close, however did not see anything.,-73.0969297,123m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x4cca76c2ce192a31:0x32d04627f530e459!8m2!3d44.5352117!4d-73.0980114


For my thanksgiving phenology location I chose a local natural area about 10 minutes away from my house called Indian Brook Reservoir.

As I sit on this bench, I wait and listen to all of the world move around me.  The wind pushing the waves to the shore line, slowly eroding away the rock face.  I hear them both whispering to me.  The wind crawling through my hair into my ears.  The waves beckoning me to move toward the reservoir.  I step closer and sit on a rock.  It supports me as I rest upon its flat top.  Many people have passed here, this location is populated by people who wish to feel more connected to nature.  A heavier wind passes by and pushes everything away, leaves and small branches fall and fly willy-nilly.  I feel its strength whip my skin, turning it cold.  I try to shelter myself from the cold in my jacket, and then had a realization.  The winter weather encroaching on this land where I had previously believed to be inhabited by humans was in fact owned by the weather.  It has total control of the landscape and its inhabitants, able to change the world in an instant.  It holds everything in its hands.

I noticed that the species distribution between the two locations were eerily similar.  The locations being of similar climate made this a sound conclusion.  The similarities between the phenology spots made me feel like I had not really left school in the way.   Both my locations are sites for frequent human interaction.  The spots have trails for people to walk along and explore the wildlife that inhabits the area.  However the one I visited in my hometown surrounds a large reservoir.  The area has a strange presence of human interaction.  The dam and trail areas would not be present had there not been any disturbance from the human inhabitants.  The feeling here is an almost looming shadow of something that may create a new beautiful landscape or destroy an established one.  The feeling is different at centennial woods.  While much of the trails in the forest are also man made, there is no great structure that seems to scream “humans have been here”.  These sites have helped me to view nature in different ways.  Since the locations have so many similarities it caused me to focus on the minute differences.  Things like the dam and stone farm outlines from past settlers, long abandoned.  These differences made centennial woods feel serene and peaceful, unlike the looming feeling from the shadows I felt in Indian Brook.

I was drawn to Centennial Woods because of its close proximity to me and because I was already somewhat familiar with the area.  It is a diverse community of flora and fauna and I wanted to explore it further.  I most often walk there and will usually stay there for anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour.

Some common flora I saw in this are were: White Oak, American Beech, Buckthorne, Red, Sugar and Norway Maple, and Basswood.

Some of the common fauna I saw were: Water Beetles, I heard a Pileated Woodpecker, and a Garter Snake.

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