Prompt #3 – Sense of Place

My notes from Naturally Curious
A rainstorm caused a lot of erosion in the area. The waters had died down this week, but you can still see evidence of the rushing brook.
Mushrooms have started to droop and turn green due to the cold.
Snow hiding amongst the mushrooms!
Tried to take a picture of a fern with an instant-print camera.
This week’s field notes!

One hundred years ago, it’s possible that this site was completely different. What is now a rotting carcass of a tree would’ve most likely been a sapling. It’s possible that the brook would’ve followed an entirely different path, not even coming close to the sapling. The topographic features would’ve been different, also. At the moment, the tree and brook are located at the bottom of a hill. It’s possible that before, it would’ve been higher up. I assume that once it was a large tall maple or oak tree. I believe it was destroyed in a storm, leaving the stump I see today. 

The thing that originally called me to this site was the mushrooms on the side of the tree. I originally had chosen another site, but I found myself drawn to the mushrooms. In the past, when it was a living tree, it most likely didn’t have the mushrooms that called me to it, and I might not have noticed it.

My sense of place hasn’t entirely changed since I first saw my sight. I’m still drawn to it with a sense of wonder. Everytime I visit, I’m filled with excitement. I love the walk to my site. I have to cross the brook over a small boardwalk, and recently, the boardwalk washed away in a storm, so it’s been an adventure getting to my sight! I do feel at home at my tree. I feel safe sitting underneath it and working on field notes. It’s far enough from the trail that I feel secluded, but I always know how to get back.

The changing of the seasons has changed the feeling of my site. In the spring, I was surrounded by dense green leaves and lower shrubs. I couldn’t see very far past the brook. Now, after all the leaves have gone, everything is very open. I can see a meadow across the brook through the tree trunks. But, my sense of place hasn’t changed. I still feel connected to this place because of the relationship I’ve built with it. Even if the mushrooms, ferns, and brook disappeared, I would still feel connected to this spot because of the time I’ve sat and relaxed there. I will always remember the times I’ve brought people I care about to see it and the times I visited alone when I was stressed or anxious. Though things will change, it will always be my “shroom” tree. 

Prompt #2

A Map of my area
One of the biggest changes I noticed at my sight was that the wood ferns no longer had spores and they were starting to turn white and brown.
An unidentified grub- the WiFi was down after the rainstorm so I was unable to identify it.
A Sugar Maple, White Oak, and Yellow Birch leaves and a bed of White Pine needles. These leaves characterize the most prominent tree types around my spot.
A Garlic Mustard sprout peeking out from some moss. If you turned the leaf a little bit, you could see the slime evidence of a slug!
An acorn- evidence of Oak trees!
A spiderweb in the dry safety of the bark.
The Japanese Barberry around my tree has begun to fruit.
These dirt mounds are actually worm poo from when worms come up when it’s raining.
My field notes!

During this visit to my spot, I observed several different organisms. The first one I looked at was the Wood Fern (Dryopteris). I had noticed the Wood Ferns during my first visit due to the spores present on the backs of their leaves. This time, most of the spores were gone and I noticed that the small leaflets were turning white around the edges. Ferns are a characteristic of my spot because they’re the only visible plant under 3 feet tall at my site at the moment. 

I also spotted a grub-like organism (grub: holotrichia)when I was moving some of the leaves off of the forest floor to observe the soil. This grub is characteristic of my place because there are countless organisms who use the rotting leaves on the ground for cover, moisture, and nutrients. I never notice them at first glance, but they after some time of observing my area, they make themselves known. The soil was very moist and nutrient rich, which is good for all of the plant  life and organisms that live there. 

The third organisms were three different types of trees. Surrounding my tree in the overstory are Sugar Maples (acer sacchurum), Yellow Birches (Betula alleghaniensis), White Oaks (Quercus alba), and White Pines (Pinus strobus). While I can’t be sure because my tree doesn’t have leaves, I suspect it was one of the oaks because of its’ bark. I also found an acorn in the leaves beneath the tree. 

The fourth was something I hadn’t seen at my spot before, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). When you angled to leaf just right, you could see the trail that a slug (Gastropoda) had left behind. This characterized my spot because it’s a safe haven for everything to thrive, and I’ve always seen slugs there! I also found a spider web nestled in the bark of the tree. 

Another organism characteristic to my area is the Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), which was starting to fruit. Barberry is characteristic of my area because it’s one of the few shrubs ground around my tree. 

The final evidence of an organism that I noted was a dirt mound at the base of the tree. This dirt mound was actually worm poop, otherwise known as castings, made from the Earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) when they surfaced during the storm the night before my visit. 

Since my last visit, my area has changed drastically. What used to be a secluded area tucked away in the leaves, you can now see a lot of the surrounding forest. The brook flooded exponentially and caused erosion on some of the banks. Turbidity had increased as well, because I could no longer see the bottom. Creating the map forced me to really take in all of the details of my area, not just the mushroom tree, but all of the other things that make that spot truly unique and special.