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Michael's Place

What A Year!

Posted: May 4th, 2018 by mlangham

Oh my what a year it’s been! If someone had told me 8 months ago that I’d be picking a location for a class project, and that I’d eventually develop a bond to that place, I’d have laughed. I’m not laughing now, though. I really have developed an emotional connection to my place, and I’ve seen the transformation of 3 seasons in the same spot. From the last days of summer in September, to the first leaves falling in October, to the frigid day that I visited in February, it’s truly been a hell of a ride. When I visited my spot in Centennial Woods today, I couldn’t help but feel that time has flown, and life flies by, but in the forest it moves at a more natural pace. Kind’ve like the way life should move. The leaves are budding on some of the trees, there’s much more life that seems to be around, and so forth. I visited at dusk, and the peepers were peeping the entire time I was there. I tried looking for one, but they seemed to be on their game because I had no luck in finding one. However, it did get me really excited for the summer days that will be coming soon. Pretty soon I’ll be at camp watching the sunset and listening to the peepers, and life will slow down for a little while. I saw one woman on a trail run, and I couldn’t help but feel excited about all the summer activities that will be coming soon to me, and to the forest. That’s a great way that my spot intertwines with culture and nature. People come through my spot to get some fresh air and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Runners take advantage of the softer surface and more natural feeling and go for runs in the woods. Even college kids take a minute to unplug and just chill in the woods with their friends for awhile. It’s really great. The only regret I have about picking my spot is that I didn’t visit it more throughout the year! I feel that I’ve definitely developed a place in my heart for that little spot in Centennial Woods, and I hope that it sticks around in the state it’s currently in for generations of students to learn from. It’s really remarkable; the fact that something so small and sometimes thought of as insignificant can have such a hold on someone. I’ll certainly miss seeing the change in the seasons in my spot, but I know I’ll be back in the fall, and to that special place, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to learn in such an amazing way!

Signs of Spring?

Posted: April 16th, 2018 by mlangham

As I walked through the forest in Centennial Woods, I couldn’t help but feel a little upset that there weren’t any signs of spring. It was cold today, and the ice and snow covered most of the forest floor. It’s been too cold for amphibians, and there were absolutely zero flowers popping up. The trees still look bare and are still in winter mode, and I think it might be a little while before they’re ready to bud. I did manage to make a quick sketch of the trees and the snow that was on the forest floor, but that was about all the activity I saw. There was a lot of dog and human prints, but other than that there’s not much going on in my spot. My spot lies at the intersection of two trails, and isn’t very far from the road by the UVM police station. Total distance from my spot to the road is probably about 300 yards, so it’s not very far. The edge effect in my spot is pretty significant; the road can be heard pretty easily. This makes it so that animals have the constant stress of cars driving by and man made noise, so it can be hard for some animals to inhabit this area.

Peacham Map!

Posted: March 18th, 2018 by mlangham

Peacham!!!!

Posted: March 18th, 2018 by mlangham

This spring break I traveled back to my hometown of Peacham, Vermont and spent most of the week there. To try and keep myself busy, I distracted myself by doing a lot of stuff. One of those distractions was taking a walk through the woods to try and find a good place to compare to my phenological spot in Centennial Woods. I finally stumbled upon a spot that had just received a fresh dusting of snow and that had recently served as a landing for loggers. This spot had been their home base as they logged areas of the woods around where I then stood. I didn’t see any living bird action, but I did find a dead partridge. This was the first time I’d ever been really close to a partridge, so it was interesting, but also a little sad, because it wasn’t going to be able to see the warmer days that are soon to come. Here’s a kinda blurry look at it:

It’s kinda hard to see, mostly because of the poor quality of my phone camera but also because it had been dead for a little while and is covered with a dusting of snow. It was near the base of a coniferous tree, so a lot of the snow that surrounded us had been caught up in the branches above. This site is really different from my site in Burlington, and there’s two really big reasons for that. The first reason is that my site in Peacham is much more rural than Centennial Woods. There’s a lot of foot and domesticated animal traffic that moves through Centennial Woods, but there’s almost none that goes through my spot in Peacham. The second big distinctive feature of my spot in Peacham is that it was recently logged, and the last loggers left that area about six months ago. My spot in Centennial Woods is young to medium growth, but there’s nothing that’s been logged recently in Centennial Woods, or at least to the best of my knowledge. There were a couple of Eastern White Pines that I was able to identify, and they looked healthy, but other than that I was pretty lost as to what some of the plant species were in my new site. It had just snowed the night before I visited, so here’s a little shot of what a dusting of snow in my spot looked like:

The photo quality may be a little off, but I think that’s because my phone was pretty cold and wasn’t feeling like taking very good pictures. I hope you enjoyed a peek into the woods near my house!

 

Hello March!

Posted: March 4th, 2018 by mlangham

A whole heck of a lot has changed in my spot since the month that I was last there. The snow is mostly gone, but there’s still a dusting in some places, and Vermont’s next season is already in full swing… Mud Season! The frost leaving the ground and the melt runoff has led to muddy trails that are covered in human and dog footprints, oh boy! The trees are still there, but this time, the maples could be tapped. There wasn’t much evidence of animals in my spot, but there was a noticeably higher level of water running down the brook. It’s cooled down a little bit from the warmer temperatures we had earlier this week, but it’s still above freezing out during the day, so that’s got whatever snow that’s left melting. This would be perfect weather for sugaring if the maples were only tapped! The natural community in my spot is very typical of that of the Champlain Valley. There’s mostly smaller hardwood trees, but there’s a mix of softwoods too. It’s pretty wet soil right now, but the landform definitely made it so that farming and agricultural uses were, and are, still very possible. I wasn’t able to identify many plant species, but there’s some young growth beech, which makes sense because the sunlight is largely blocked by the forest canopy. According to BioFinder, I discovered that Centennial Woods is a high priority site, which makes sense because it’s one of the few truly wooded sites in the city. I didn’t really think of that before seeing the BioFinder analysis. Vermont’s a really rural area, but there are parts of Vermont that don’t have a lot of immediate access to the outdoors, with Burlington being one of them. That’s why places like Centennial Woods aren’t just important to the health of the natural environment, but also the health and wellbeing of people, especially people that might not have access to other areas.

Here’s a peek at my spot as of 3/4/18!!!!

Centennial Woods… Winter Edition!

Posted: February 3rd, 2018 by mlangham

A lot has changed since I last visited my spot in Centennial Woods last December. It’s now a lot easier to see who else has been visiting my spot, and it’s actually quite surprising how many things have been through there. There were tons of human tracks going through on the path, and almost as many dog tracks running around the sides and through the woods. There was also a lot of cottontail rabbit tracks that cut across the trail, and it looked like the dogs might have been going crazy chasing the scent and tracks through the snow. Some of the tracks that I saw were these:

  

I also saw a tree that looked like it’s been gnawed on by a porcupine, but I didn’t see any tracks, here’s the tree:

I found some buds forming on some trees, I saw a sugar maple bud, and what I think was a boxelder bud. Unfortunately, my camera had gotten too cold at this point to take a good picture of the boxelder bud, but I got a really nice picture of the sugar maple bud:

And here’s my attempt at drawing it:

A lot’s changed since last December, like the temperature. It’s a lot colder than it was when I last visited, and the path has turned into more of a sheet of ice than a path. The trees in December had a few leaves that were stragglers and didn’t want to leave their tree, but now all the trees are bare. There’s a solid sheet of ice across the brook now, whereas in February it was bubbling on through. There wasn’t really any snow in December either, but now there’s a solid inch of dusting that makes it pretty easy to identify who’s been through. And here’s a look at just how frozen it is:

Oh Sweet, Sweet Fall

Posted: December 6th, 2017 by mlangham

My spot in Centennial Woods has shown me a lot about the way the forest functions, and more particularly, how the urban forest functions. My spot serves as an intersection for foot, and paw traffic, on the trail systems that traverse through Centennial Woods. However, in the past the forest of Centennial Woods has served as much more than that. Before the Europeans came, the land was primarily forested, but when the Europeans came the land was used primarily as farmland. There is still evidence of this, as there are stone walls still intact in some places. As the Vermont economy shifted from agriculture, Centennial Woods was let go to return to a forested form. Now it serves as a great place for people to get outside and enjoy nature in an urban setting. It also is a great classroom for students to utilize in order to learn more about the natural world that surrounds them.

Devil’s Hill Map!!!

Posted: November 26th, 2017 by mlangham

Devil’s Hill!!!

Posted: November 26th, 2017 by mlangham

Devil’s Hill is a place that almost everyone knows. In Peacham, it’s where you go when you want to hike and not drive very far. Many people visit Devil’s Hill throughout the year, but the amount of visitors peaks in the late summer and early fall, when the foliage starts to pop and dramatic yellows, reds, and oranges cover the trees throughout the woods. Once the summit is reached, the woods seem to open up and allow a view to the west that reaches as far as Camel’s Hump. It’s quite a special place, as most of the views are views of forest and swamp and other mountains: there’s really no view of much human activity, other than some cabins on a small pond off to the east. It’s really quite a special place, there’s evidence that shows people have been hiking on Devil’s Hill for a long time. There’s an exposed face of rock that has been carved into by many people, and the oldest carving visible was someone with the initials MPL from 1932. There’s evidence of more recent activity, too. There’s spots where campfires have been lit, and several beer cans are strewn throughout the site, some are actually quite old. All kinds of wildlife populate the area surrounding Devil’s Hill, some of the most notable include white tailed deer, moose, black bear, coyote, and ruffed grouse.

The phenology of centennial woods when compared to Devil’s Hill has some similarities, but mostly there are differences. The savage magnificence and frontier like feeling one gets from observing the view from atop Devil’s Hill is quite different from the tame and quiet feeling of being underneath the canopy of my spot in Centennial woods. There is evidence of a good time had by many in both spots though, as beer cans are usually easily found whenever I take a stroll through both places. The wind never usually moves through centennial woods at great speed, but it is quite common to experience a cold and wild wind whenever one finds themself atop Devil’s Hill. When I find myself at my spot in Centennial woods, I can observe many kinds of decidious and coniferous trees, but on top of Devil’s Hill, I only find coniferous trees. I haven’t seen any eastern hemlock trees at my spot in Centennial woods, but I see primarily eastern hemlock at my spot on Devil’s Hill. The other species of coniferous tree that I see when I go to Devil’s Hill is the eastern white pine. Snow covers the summit of Devil’s Hill as early as late October, and right now the summit has a solid layer of snow. I don’t expect my spot in Centennial woods to have snow for at least another couple of weeks, as being so close to the lake seems to have an effect on the amount of snow Centennial Woods gets.

 

 

Oh, Fall! (2.0)

Posted: November 5th, 2017 by mlangham

With fall almost over, a lot’s changed in my spot. The leaves that were two months ago green with life cover the forest floor. I primarily see oak and maple leaves. The green jewel weed that was near the brook is now just waiting for a solid killing frost before it’s presence disappears from the landscape for the winter. The most substantial change in the landscape is the cover of the leaves- they literally cover everything that’s on the forest floor, I’d definitetly hate to drop something here!

Oh woods, how you make me smile,

especially you, centennial woods,

you lurk, almost in the shadows, of Burlington, and many have no idea of your existence,

but I know you, I know your brook, I know your bridge,

I feel your energy as the seasons change,

I know you, centennial woods

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