For Thanksgiving break I traveled from UVM to my hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York to celebrate with my family. Since being at UVM my view of sense of place has changed quite a lot. Before I believed that sense of place was just about the memories created at that place. Now I understand the importance of keeping in mind the history of the land, the memories I created there, the economy of the area, and the interactions with the land. My hometown has always had a special place in my heart, but over break I really dug deep into the history and economic status of my area. My house is located in the suburbs of Poughkeepsie on a quaint street with many tall pine trees and oak trees. The neighborhood my house is in means a lot to me since this is the place where I grew up and created many memories here such as having snowball fights with my neighbors during this time of year. However, I consider myself fortunate to live in a beautiful house in the suburbs. Many of the people in my community are not as lucky as me. The City of Poughkeepsie itself is a rough area. Many of the people live in homes that look rundown and experience tough financial situations. The economy took a plunge in 2008 because of the housing crisis, also one of the largest companies in the area, IBM, began laying off employees causing many to lose jobs. Despite the situation with the economy in the past, during break I saw many new businesses being created as well as new apartments being built. I have hope that as the city begins to rebuild, more people will spend time enjoying the beauty the town has to offer.
Despite the rundown look of the Town of Poughkeepsie, the Hudson River is the hidden gem. The river is the focal point of the town and is where most people spend their time. Personally, I spent a lot of my time down on the rocks that sit along the Hudson at Bowdoin Park. When I returned for break I visited this spot and realized the importance of the history of my area. I realized that this spot has changed quite a bit. All of the trees have lost their leaves and there was snow on the ground. There was a lot of evidence of human activity, the area was covered with plastic garbage which was extremely upsetting to me. Most people do not consider the history of Poughkeepsie and appreciate the land itself. Native American tribes such as the Mahicans and Lenapes settled along the banks of the Hudson River. They utilized the river for trade and as a source of food. You can find evidence of these tribes through the rocks along the hudson. Small rocks were used to make arrowheads and many had been left behind on the shores. Since coming to UVM I realized the people of my area do not respect the land and understand the importance of it. I want to bring the things I’ve learned from UVM to my hometown to teach the public about the importance of taking care of our area.
When visiting my phenology blog spot it had changed quite a bit since my last visit. First of all, Burlington was experiencing its first snowfall of the year. Therefore, when walking to my phenology spot I had to be careful to not slip and fall on the mud and ice. When I reached the spot, I realized the footbridge had been moved to a different area. This is because of how high the water level had become in the brook. To know that my phenology spot had been moved around almost made me feel sad. I always sat on the footbridge and took my field notes there.
Once I reached my spot I realized how many changes had actually occurred. The ground was covered in white, powdery snow. The ground was extremely muddy and the bank of the brook was more eroded than before. However, the brook had become more narrow. I can now stand in an area where there was once water. When searching for wildlife I realized there was no sign of the minnows in the brook as well as the water striders that were once there before. There was also no sign of birds which is because they migrate during this time which is discussed in the book Naturally Curious. Almost all of the vegetation had turned brown and the trees have now officially lost their leaves.
Being from New York, I never realized how quickly the seasons changed in Burlington. The seasons changed slowly at home, fall lasted until November, winter lasted until March, and spring began in April. To know that there may still be snow on the ground in April is a scary thought. I’ve realized how I created a sense of place at my phenology spot. It almost feels like the spot from home, where I would go to enjoy nature. I understand the history behind Centennial Woods, but as change occurs, I feel as if I’m learning more and more about my spot. In terms of Vermont as a whole, as the seasons change I’m experiencing how the environment changes and how organisms adapt to this change. To know that one day we may have a whole where people are unable to enjoy nature’s gifts is frightening. I would be devastated to find that Vermont changed due to climate change or deforestation. As I spend more time here in Vermont, I feel as if this place is becoming my home.
When visiting my phenology site at Centennial Woods this week, my site has changed a lot since my last visit. Pretty much all of the trees have lost their leaves except for the pines. The leaf litter on the ground has changed from bright colors of red and yellow to brown. Most of the grass has turned brown in color and the soil was quite muddy and mushy. The bank of the brook looked more eroded since my last visit probably from the rain. I visited my site on 10/30/19 before the huge rain storm last night. The water level of the brook had increased since my last visit but after last night the brook must be overwhelmed by water. During my visit I photographed six organisms that inhabit my phenology site. When I watch the water I can see the slight shimmer in the sunlight and then it suddenly vanishes. This is because of the small minnows swimming in the brook under the eroded bank. The surface of the water is sometimes disturbed by a water strider (Gerridae) making its way to its next destination. At my last visit there were much more water striders compared to now. This may be because of the temperature change from the last visit. The ground cover around the brook is mostly ferns and few areas of grass because of the colder temperature. Over looking the brook is a tall red oak tree. This tree has now lost almost all of its leaves but is still hanging on to the last couple of days of fall. The white pine trees tower over this small red oak. The pines have most of their needles at the top of the tree. The most notable difference between my past visit to now is the tree that hangs over the brook. The Eastern black walnut tree has now lost all of its leaves. All of these organisms represent the change from peak fall to the slow ending of fall. Most of the trees no longer have leaves and the organisms left in Centennial near my spot show the transition of getting ready for winter. I created a map of my site included below. I tried to represent how close my site is to human activity. Surrounding my site there are apartments as well as buildings owned by UVM. My site is located right after the footbridge that goes over the brook. I created the map before going to my site which caused me to miss many small details. Once I returned to my phenology site I included small details so you can better understand my spot in terms of Centennial Woods as a whole.
Below there are pictures of the organisms I encountered as well as my map and field notes.
The site for my phenology blog is located after the small bridges along the brook in Centennial Woods. I chose this area because the brook reminds me of the Wappingers River located in my hometown. Although the areas at home are not as beautiful as Centennial it is nice to be reminded of home. The brook is the defining feature of the area. The sound of running water brings a calming feeling over me as I sit beside it watching the trees sway in the wind. To get to my site I walk from my dorm, Harris Hall, to the main entrance of Centennial Woods. I walk through the main trail until I cross over the two small footbridges located on top of the brook. You know you’re there when you hear the running brook and see a small sitting area where you can reach in and feel the water. While taking notes for this blog post the area was quite busy. People exploring Centennial need to pass through this area to continue their journey deeper into the forest. Human activity is evident in this area, the soil is very packed down and I even found glass near the edge of the bridge. From the first time I visited the spot I noticed how many of the surrounding trees have lost their colorful leaves. There is now quite a lot of leaf litter on the ground and the bank of the brook is very eroded. Grasses are still flourishing although the weather is beginning to get colder. The small fish that inhabit the water tend to stay under the eroded bank and the occasional chipmunk will run by disrupting the quiet atmosphere. Although my spot is one of the main areas of human traffic, I am still able to sit back and take in the beauty that Centennial Woods has to offer. There is one tree that still has yet to lose its leaves. A red oak tree stands tall over the brook with bright red leaves. Stay tuned for a new blog post soon!
Information from my field notebook is included below. Feel free to check it out:)