Nature and culture are definitely intertwined here in Centennial. As I’ve noted before, tons of people hike here and walk their pets through the woods. I know it’s definitely become a part of my culture, I have friends who also have their phenology spots in Centennial and we’ll all just get together and walk through for a few hours. It’s really cool to visit each other’s locations and be immersed in nature.
In December we learned about having a sense of place, and why it was crucial for us as humans to have that. I don’t think I fully grasped the concept when it was introduced, because now after having visited the same place all year I can genuinely feel like I have a sense of comfort and belonging there.
By now I do consider myself to be a part of this spot. Being with it all year I was able to watch it change through the seasons and different weather. I also feel like I’ve emotionally connected to it here. It’s funny because in the fall I had to take NR15: Ecology of Place, and one of the first places we went was to Centennial, and I also stopped by now in May to gather my closing thoughts.
I started and ended my freshman year of college in these woods, and regardless of whether or not I’m considered to be part of this place, this place will always be a part of me.
So this week we got to kick off Earth Week with a Bioblitz in Centennial! So you know I stopped by my spot to take some photos and observe the changes. Something really cool that I was able to document was the identification of some new species that I wasn’t able to identify in the past. Because I downloaded iNaturalist I was able to place a name to a few different species that I wasn’t able to before. For example although I know what Honeysuckle is I didn’t realize there was any growing in my spot!! And I also saw something called a Red Dogwood which was super cool because in my neighborhood in CT, there are tons of White Dogwoods so it was like a little taste of home away from home.
I noticed a bunch of buds on trees (check out this honeysuckle though!!) which made it really start to feel like spring. I saw the beginnings of some flowers which I’ll try to draw for you guys, but mostly I was captivated by the budding trees I saw. I also noticed a ton of dog tracks in the mud, so it was really cool to see that people are starting to go out and hike with their pets again as the weather warms. Have fun and don’t forget to check for ticks!
So you might be thinking, “this doesn’t look like centennial woods…” That’s because it’s not! As you may or may not know, UVM recently had spring break and while I was home I decided to check out a new spot. This location is actually my backyard (lol). My house backs up to a beautiful natural area that I’ve always referred to as ‘the woods’.
As I walked through, I was able to identify a bunch of focal species! I saw a bunch of what I assumed to be Norway Maples, Boxedlers, and Eastern White Pines. Also as I ventured deeper closer to the stream that runs through it I noticed scat that I’m nearly 100% sure belonged to a White-Tailed Deer. I see tons of them running through my year all the time. Attached is a photo of my house in comparison to where the woods are and how close it is.
Later that night when my mom and I were watching tv we heard like animal sounds that my dad identified as belonging to a Red Fox. I went back in the morning and didn’t see any tracks, but the ground was a lot more dry than it was in Vermont so any tracks that may have been there weren’t easy to spot.
Connecticut is very different compared to Vermont, but I was able to feel close to my phenology spot while at home.
I’ve been working on a classification for my natural area! I usually connote the term “woodland” synonymously with forest, but I recently learned that geographers use the term to describe a forested area with an open canopy. The canopy is the highest layer of foliage in a forest, made up of the tops of trees. An open canopy allows full sunlight to enter the woodland, limiting shade and moisture. Woodlands are super important as they often act as transition zones between different ecosystems, such as grasslands, true forests, and even desserts.
Given that working definition and understanding that I’ve established, the idea that my phenological location can be classified as a woodland makes sense given the amount of direct sun seen throughout the wooded area. The area is very ecologically sound and diverse, there is a stream really close by to me, and there’s definitely space for development and growth within the current tree and wildlife populations.
Following the snow and rain from winter I noticed that the soil was really wet when I visited and I was able to see that the topsoil appeared to be a sandy loam type. Although it looked flooded because of the mass amounts of precipitation, I was surprised to see that the area surrounding the stream maintaining its shape even with the slight flooding occuring.
2019 brings lots of snow to centennial. I was able to spot a number of exciting changes, and was successful in identifying some American Beech twigs! I’ll attach some photos of the twigs I saw along with a labeled drawing. I was able to identify 2 Basswoods, 2 Red Maples, 3 Sugar Maples, 3 American Beechs, 6 Ashs, and 1 Northern Red Oak. Also I saw a ton of different animal tracks. I’m not completely sure what all of them are, but I think I saw deer tracks, red fox tracks, and possibly dog tracks. I’m fairly new to tracking so hopefully in the future I’ll be more accurate.
Over the course of the semester I’ve learned a lot about not only Burlington, but my phenology location in general. Centennial Woods was obtained by the University of Vermont from various private landowners (from 1891 to 1968 ish) in the mid 1990’s. The natural area covers over 65 acres, and is utilized not only for recreational purposes, but also for educational purposes. Depicted below are images from the entrance to the woods, an NR1 class in the woods, and a professional birds-eye map. More about Centennial’s history can be found here
With an absence of academic schooling, I joyfully return home for the holiday and am reminded of everything I left behind. Connecticut in the fall is a beautiful place, and I was fortunate enough to visit one of my favorite places to observe. Upon arrival I took note of how my breath barely appeared in the air, while much warmer than my Vermont counterparts, it was still a brisk day. I began my trek into the woods amazed at the nature surrounding me. Leaves scattered, covering the forest floor were somewhat silent under my boots, the expected crunch absent given the time spent being stomped on. I arrived to the pond and gazed at the natural beauty surrounding me. Insects dancing along the surface of the water, skipping to their own beat. A single leaf, carried by the wind, landed in front of me, skimming the surface of the pond before diving under. I continued on the path, rocks rolling as my boots picked them up on my journey. I stopped again at a stream taking a moment to listen to the water trickling down over sticks and leaves. The water traveled taking its time flowing over the many rocks and matter below it, leaving behind a beautiful symphony of sound.
(Holland inspired writing)
The land in Connecticut differs greatly from the land in Vermont. While both are protected areas, the trees and wildlife in the Connecticut area were much more diverse in height and diameter. There seemed to be a more even distribution of young, old, and snag trees, where as in Vermont one can see far fewer older and snag trees. The presence of young new trees in Vermont can most likely be explained through the presence of the Great Cutover, where most of Vermont was deforested in the 19th and 20th centuries. While Connecticut also had similar problems, by 1820 only 25% of forested areas remained untouched, certain areas recovered faster than those seen in Vermont. This could be accounted for a number of factors; Vermont observes much harsher winter seasons, and the ground is often frozen for much longer periods of time. Connecticut has a slightly longer growing season most likely increasing the availability for regrowth. Both New England areas showcase beautiful leaf changes in Autumn, and lovely floral growth in the Spring.
Based on the examples provided in Hannah Hinchman’s article The World as Events, I’ve created my own event map to illustrate my most recent visit to my location. This trip was slightly different because I went into it trying to find interesting things to blog about, so I was much more attentive to the world around me. I began, as I always do, by walking into Centennial taking note of the UVM sponsored sign. “CENTENNIAL WOODS Natural Area” it reads. I then continued my walk into the woods, it was a little colder and windier so I was walking with my head up, looking at the trees when my boot caught on a root and I tripped. I laughed at myself and carried on to my spot when I saw Emma and Emily, I said hi and carried on. Once situated I sat on the log that I’ve grown fond of and spent time breathing and taking in everything around me. Then after a while I texted Emma to see if they were still in the woods and they came to where I was and we took photos on the other fallen tree. I then jumped into the water instead of crossing and got my pants wet and we left. Overall, a successful trip.
In my birds-eye view drawing, you’ll notice that I’ve centered the perspective around the water. In the bottom left corner I’ve featured a dead log that I like to sit on when I visit my site. I’ll often sit here and just unplug for a bit. Additionally there’s a more narrow tree seen on the right that fell that crosses the water, this one appears much younger than the thicker one. I also chose to feature the hemlock overhang in my drawing because it seems like a significant aspect of my location. I’ve also noticed that there are a decent amount of younger trees closer to the water.