December Phenological Update

As I walked my place for the last time this semester, I noticed how beautiful it was even when it looked so barren.  Despite the roaring wind coming off of the lake, there was a bit of respite found within the trees.  There were a few berries remaining on some bushes and leaves on very young trees.  Something that I noticed was that all but one of the paper birch trees that I noticed in my place were fallen over.  Also, there was an enormous cottonwood tree that I could see was being eaten away by the lapping lake slowly but surely.  Finally, I noticed that the metal barrier making up the exterior of the land mass was constantly beaten by waves and it was beginning to bend under the weight of the Earth.

Human History of my Phenology Site

During the years of the booming petroleum shipping industry in Burlington, my place was made by placing barriers in the water and filling the space in between the barriers with fill.  This new land was then used to house additional petroleum tanks.  Eventually, in 1998, as the waterfront was beginning to be revitalized, clean fill was placed in my place to make a buffer between any residual petroleum and the new dog park that was built across the bike path.

“History.” BurlingtonVT.gov, Community and Economic Development Office, www.burlingtonvt.gov/CEDO/History.

Maps of Home Place

The first map shows the relative area of the park itself, the presence of both wooded areas and agricultural fields should be noted.  The next map shows the surroundings, including the nearest town, Kennett Square.  In both maps, my place is marked with a grey pin (it is in the bottom middle of the second map).

Comparison in Leopold’s Style

In Southeast Pennsylvania in the mid 19th century a farmer wakes up with the sun and heads to work in the fields. He looks out over the rolling fields of corn and takes a deep breath of the cool fall air; harvest season is here so he prepares for the long days of work. Today, as dawn breaks, there may be a few early morning park-goers. They may hear the early morning sounds of the first birds of the day as they walk through the new agricultural fields to the patch of woods that has now overgrown the farm that once stood here.

 

In Burlington, Vermont, my place used to be under the water. The most human activity that it most likely received was from people fishing off of the shore of the lake. But, there clearly was a mass of land placed here and the vegetation quickly took hold. Today, there is a much closer bond that has formed between people and the new land. Similarly to my home place, there are most likely walkers who greet the area early in the morning. But, the vegetation that people and their pets may see here differs from the types seen in Pennsylvania.

Description in Wright’s Style

The crunching of the fall leaves under gentle paws breaks the harsh silence of the late fall forest. It takes a bit of walking to finally see that the dense hardwood forest still harbors life. The woods beckon groups of people on short walks to immerse themselves in the shroud of trees. With the path obscured by a thick layer of leaves a silent trip is made into the center of the patch of trees. Through the heart of the forest runs a gentle creek, like the spine of the body of life here. But, the banks carry scars of the past. Harshly in-cut, eroded banks act as piece of evidence of the flood that tore through this little valley in past years. As you move down toward the small wetland, life is beginning to regrow were the soil was once inundated with water. Slowly but surely, ferns have been growing here, under the watchful eye of towering beech trees. But, the ferns are now shriveled and sad-looking, waiting patiently for the long winter to end so that they can grow once more, even stronger. People often walk through this park without truly seeing what it has to offer; if you look closely, one can peel back the layers of the forest and see how far this land has come from being a farm many years ago.

Photos of Home Place

The phenology place that I chose in my hometown of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a park close to my house that I have spent excessive amounts of time in.  I know this place like the back of my hand and I love it here.  These photos show buck-rubs from this year and past years, some bank erosion along the creek from a flood a few years ago, the wide open hardwood forest, a few painted rocks that the township has hidden throughout the park, and a wall remaining from the farm that stood on this land long ago.  This park is very conservation-centered and provides a place for the community to enjoy the natural world.  The land is also farmed in certain areas with various crops.  A strong sense of place is instilled in the community through many events to learn about the land, plants, and wildlife.

Haikus on Phenological Change

Summer:

Vibrant, green, and lush;

The woods sing with joyous life.

A cool breeze runs through.

Fall:

The beauty of death.

Summer makes quite the exit.

Change will always come.

Winter:

The brisk wind cuts deep.

The bare trees shiver and wait.

Everyone prepares.

November Update

This visit I noticed that my place was almost completely devoid of leaves.  All of the ash, paper birch, and cottonwood trees were completely bare.  The only leaves that could be found not on the path were either on vines or a single vibrantly color red oak sapling.  The forest appears to be much thinner and more sparse without the leaves on the trees.  This also opened up the inner ground cover more and allowed me to notice more small herbaceous and woody plants that I had not seen previously.

October Update

The leaves are just past peak foliage it appears.  Most still on the trees are brilliant colors and crisp dead leaves cover the trail and shorter vegetation.  The only sign of wildlife I have seen thus far has been a squirrel and the familiar sounds of songbirds.  But, I did notice a marking of a dog that its inconsiderate owner left behind.  It most likely came from the dog park across the bike path.  This may account for the little wildlife that I have noticed.