My site is in Centennial woods. It’s an old, rotting tree covered in mushrooms and surrounded by small ferns and shrubs. It’s next to a deeper part of the brook, where you can see small minnows swimming about. It’s surrounded by White Oaks, White Pines, Beeches, and Red Maples in the canopy, as well as a stout Eastern Hemlock near by. The mushrooms on the tree I believe are called Bracket Fungi, and they swirl around the Western-facing part of the tree, a long with a tapestry of thin, green moss. The Eastern-facing half is dry due to sun exposure and the bark is hollow and cracked.
When you arrive at my site, you’re hear the dibble of the brook in front of you and hear the rustling of the ferns and shrubs. At first, you won’t notice any wildlife, but after a little while, you begin to notice that this old tree is teeming with life. Slugs take refuge in the damp wood, Daddy Long Legs squat on the bark, and squirrels flutter about. Organisms slowly start to make themselves know. Birds fly overhead, water striders glide on the surface of the brook, and insects crawl around, each on their own important mission.
When I sat down at my tree for the first time, I sat on the ground beside it for 30 minutes, sketching, taking notes, and admiring it. I chose this spot because every time I had gone to Centennial for classes or just to talk a walk, I couldn’t resist stopping and admiring the mushrooms on the tree. They climb the trunk in a beautiful swirl and each mushroom is unique. They look like clam shells on the beach. I love watching the process of the tree being turned into earth once more as the mushrooms and moss take over.
In the two times I’ve visited my site, it’s taught me so much. I had never seen spores growing on a fern in the wild before until I sat down at my site. As beautiful as it is, I still freaked me out a little. The little rows of dots are somewhat unsettling. I tried to listen intently to the birds and separate the natural noises from the manmade ones. I heard one blue jay, in particular, who was particularly noisy. Every once in a while, a plane would thunder overhead. It was strange to me to hear such a loud sound in such a peaceful place. The noise made the entire forest rumble and everything natural paused until it was gone. It was a reminder that I wasn’t completely surrounded by nature.
I’m looking forward to going back and seeing what has changed there.