Human Influence

My sit-spot, while feeling untouched within my particular 20 foot radius, is actually heavily influenced by human activity upon further inspection… more than simple wear and tear on a walking path and the occasional piece of litter strewn across the landscape. Biking to the Intervale, I realized that the McNeil Generating Station was directly adjacent to the woods in which I was exploring. The McNeil Generating Station is designed to use biomass as a heating material, which as I’ve learned in Environmental Science 1, is not all it’s cracked up to be. Biomass plants emit high levels of carbon dioxide and essentially all of the same air pollutants as a coal-fired plant, such as asthma-inducing particulate matter and carcinogenic VOC’s. Additionally, biomass energy  consumes a quite a bit of trees, and deforestation can degrade and compact forest soils, cause erosion, and ruin waterways. It has even been said that this facility is the biggest polluter in Vermont.

One Last Visit

Today was a particularly special visit with my spot, the last of the semester before a winter that will most likely bring my tree to the ground to rot and regrow into new life.

As I began this blog with the sights, smells, and sounds, I can now express these differently than I could have during the start of the term. With the changing of seasons, the forest seems to be symbolically falling into dormancy just as my first semester at UVM draws to a close.

Touch: Walking through these woods, I felt as though I had to step more carefully than before. The frozen ground and glass-like leaves cracked beneath my feet, giving each footprint a more impactful press than the spring would have allowed. My tree has less dimension to the hand than it did when I first met it; now, the bark is gone, leaving the bare, smooth core, naked in the cold.

Sound: The air is still, with a momentary break in the quiet by the call of a common merganser duck.

Smell: Life is gone from the smell; no longer do the woods smell woody, rather, the air just smells and feels cold.

Sight: The bright, golden hue of my spot is gone for the season, with a drastically visible color change. The Earth’s floor is now brown and white, the trees are more grey and stark against the colorless sky. There was something eery and almost sad about my visit today. Maybe it was the changing of times, the changing of colors, or the knowledge that an old friend of mine will no longer be standing when I return to visit.

Today, I said goodbye to my tree. As Dr. Kimmerer taught the importance of, I spent this venture listening to the forest, talking to it, and waiting for an answer. Because of this, I learned more about my tree than I had known before. I looked up once more, and remembered that it was still standing only because it was being held up within the fork of another tree adjacent to it. This time, I went to that tree and thanked it, for slowing the fall of the tree that has shaded me since the start of my visits. I sat below my tree, listening to the forest around me, breathing the air given to me by the trees all around, and I felt guilty. From guilt, I felt determination. From determination, I felt assurance. I am in the right major, one in which I will be saving a future for young individuals like myself to have trees to get to know, to be inspired by, and to make positive changes to save our world.

Skip to toolbar