As I was exploring my former phenology location I heard in the distance the relaxing sound of flowing water. I decided to walk from my former location to what is now my new phenology location located on the Centennial Brook. To get to this location you must walk a minute into the Centennial Woods until you see a large Eastern White Pine on your left. From there you head in a southern direction towards the Centennial Brook and end up at my new location. As I stood and listened to the flowing water I decided this was the location for me. Once I settled on the location I began to explore. At first I walked around scouring the ground for animal tracks. It snowed a light dusting last night making it great for animal tracks. After a minute I found what appears to be either a Snowshoe Hare or a Cottontail Rabbit. These animals tracks are both gallopers and have similar shape. I am having a hard time identifying which one it is due to the poor quality of the track. After finding these tracks I began to look at the trees surround me. The first species I identified was a Sugar Maple tree. It was distinguishable by its opposite branching and brown buds. The second twig I came across was much harder to identify and I may still even be wrong. After examination I believe it to be a Striped Maple due to its color and prominent stripes on the twig. After these explorations I am glad that I chose this new location to be my phenology blog headquarters!
As fall semester comes to a close, I begin to reflect on my time here at my phenology location. Seeing the drastic changes that have occurred since my first visit back in September have encouraged my to keep exploring and learning about this location. Since my last visit back in November, I noticed that the trees have become more bare and their leaf remains are on the ground. Yet this is a subtle difference. I am sure that when I return to my location in Mid-January there will be a layer of snow covering these leaves. In the snow I hope to find tracks from nearby animals. As for now I take a seat on the log located in the middle of my location, I take a deep breath and listen. I listen to the wind the rustles the trees. I listen to a few birds chirping before they leave for winter. I listen to people in the distance exploring the woods. As I stand up to leave I say goodbye to my phenology location for now, knowing that when I return it will be a whole new place.
Though hard to imagine, but the natural area which is Centennial Woods was once cleared and used for farming. If you take a deeper look at the trees you notice that most are at the same stage of growth and development. This a sign that long ago this area was logged and used as farm land. For example my location contains eastern white pine which indicated that the tree growth in Centennial is newer. More evidence comes from the hardwood trees that live in Centennial. Once Centennial had stopped being used for farming trees began to sprout. In current age you can explore the trails located within the 70 acres of land owned by the University of Vermont and still see remains of fences from the farming that took place here long ago.
The natural differences between Centennial Woods in Vermont and Gerald R. Ford Park in Colorado are astounding. On my last visit in Centennial Woods on November 5th, 2017, I examined the changing of leaves in the forest. The trees that leaves were either falling off or changing colors were the Red Maple, White Oak, and the needles from the Eastern White Pines. On my visit to the Gerald R. Ford Park in Colorado on November 20th, 2017, I saw that the leaves in the surrounding area had all fallen and snow coated the ground. The difference in surrounding trees compared to Centennial woods was substantial. The trees in Colorado consisted of firs and aspen trees. At this time in November the aspen trees had already lost all their leaves and were now buried under a layer of snow. As for the firs, they still have their pointy leaves. The temperature difference between Colorado and Vermont was very different as well. Vermont was a humid cold on November 5th while Colorado was dry cold on November 20th. When comparing these two environments, I saw the vast natural and ecological differences that occur in Vermont and Colorado.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, the sound the soles of my boots make as I walk towards the stream located in the Gerald R. Ford Park in Vail, Colorado. That crunching sound along with the feel of the snow beneath my boots gives me a sense of belonging with the natural world. As I reach the stream, I brush off the freshly fallen snow on a nearby rock, and sit. The cool rock soon warms with the heat of body and I begin to listen to the surrounding environment. A light snowfall has begun and in my silence, I can hear it fall. The light taps the snow makes onto the ground relaxes me and allows me to feel as though winter has really begun. I then hear a rustling nearby. For a moment, I feel fear believing it is a predator however, what appears is a harmless squirrel out on a run for acorns before the winter takes full force. Relief floods through me, then curiosity. Who is this squirrel out to feed? Himself, or more? I watch him as he runs amok. After a few minutes of running around me he bolts up a tree and disappears forever. With his disappearance almost pure silence, besides the running stream and falling snow, immerses me and I fall into a state of relaxation.
I followed my feet,
They led me into the trees,
Where I found my peace.