When I went home for Thanksgiving, I was thinking of where I could go for my phenology place. There is a nature preserve near my house that I sometimes go to if I am in the need for quiet and a nice reservoir where the mergansers play in the winter, but I didn’t feel like any of these were personal enough. I really wanted to pick somewhere I had spent quality time when I lived in my town full time. I chose the little, wooded area behind my house where I spent many an afternoon as a child.
When I made my trip across the yard to my childhood play area, there was still a lot of snow on the ground. The juncos were flittering around the yard. I saw the maples and the oaks tremble in the wind. I remember playing in this yard as a child, so completely unaware of the beauty that was nature. In those days my only care was playing around with the trees in my own little made up world. In a second I was transitioned from New Jersey to a world within the trees, where anything was possible. I was young then, and full of imagination and love for the world in a childlike way. I thought just because I was here in this natural place, that my actions had no effect on the rest of the world. Since then I see this the place as it truly is, the place where I was baptized into the church of Nature. I have seen every maple grow, each white pine branch snap, termites eat the dead trees. The deer have walked through this area many a time, jumping over fences with a certain grace. I have seen mulch put down in places where it shouldn’t. Such a place looks as if humans decided that the beauty should come second to the practicality of the place.
One thing about my phenology site at home that is different about the one in Burlington is the size, the one in Burlington looking like a giant compared to the little one at home. In both sites, there is an abundance of maple trees. Upon inspection of the ones at my house, I saw the maples were mostly Red and Norway maples, which was honestly quite a disappointment. I had always noticed an abundance of white pines in the NJ phenology spot and this was comparable to the few white pines that there are in my phenology site at UVM. There were a lot of birds in my spot at home including juncos, a pileated woodpecker, blue jays, goldfinches, sparrows and a few chickadees. I wasn’t able to identify many of the birds in Burlington, but I know that there was an abundance of crows and seagulls, which definitely isn’t uncommon in NJ either. The trees in Burlington were definitely much older than the trees at my house, as they were both taller and thicker. The trees at home were also much less advanced in the loss of their leaves than in Burlington. There had recently been a snowstorm, so the trees had lost a lot of leaves but definitely not as many as at school.