Sense of Place in Andover Massachusetts

•December 4, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Although at first glance there may not seem to be many similarities between Redstone Quarry and my hometown of Andover Massachusetts, they both share one distinct quality, which is having a sense of place. When I returned home this Thanksgiving break, I had not been to my hometown since this August which I believe made the connection I have with Andover even stronger. One of the main reasons why I feel such a connection to Andover is because I have lived in the same house for my entire life. The street I grew up on, Clark Road, has so many memories attached to it for me, like when I would play with my siblings in woods behind our house or ride our scooters in our driveway. I also have a strong sense of place with my town because of the friendships I have formed there and the activities I participated in have a connection to my town. 

The memories I have of my family at our house definitely contribute to my feeling of a sense of place in my town, but I also feel this connection because of the abundance of natural areas as well. Andover is known for its trail program called AVIS with dozens of trails for walking, and we have a state park in town as well.

Harold Parker State Forest in my hometown of Andover, MA
Source: https://www.eagletribune.com/news/harold-parker-state-forest-marks-years-of-outdoor-fun/article_50391d83-9c63-5935-9bc3-07977f10aa40.html

I remember going on countless runs with my dad when I was younger through nearby neighborhoods and trails, and that was what sparked my initial connection with the natural areas in Andover. That bond strengthened as I got older and went on many runs with my cross country and track teammates on the trails in our town, whether they were distance runs or speed workouts. I also enjoy going on long walks in the woods by myself when I am feeling stressed and I need to decompress.

I think that my sense of place with Andover has changed over the years. I used to have a much stronger connection to my house and neighborhood when I was younger since I spent the majority of my free time playing with my siblings and my friends who lived near me. This made me have a lot of positive memories associated with my home, neighborhood, and the natural areas in my neighborhood. As I got older, I found that I felt a stronger sense of place in areas that I spent more time in than my home. I was far busier in high school than elementary and middle school, so the sense of place towards my home wasn’t as strong. However, I felt a stronger sense of place towards my friends’ houses who lived in different neighborhoods than me, the trails that I had discovered since starting to run cross country, and the pizza shop where I worked and made a lot of close friends.

Map of some of the popular trails in Andover
Source: https://www.andovertrails.org/maps.html

I believe that since coming to UVM and being completely cut off from that home environment for so long has caused my connection with Andover to strengthen. While I would never choose to live there in the future as an adult, I feel like my connection has grown since I have been living in a new, unfamiliar place for the past few months and it makes me realize how much I miss the sense of place that I felt when I was back at home. I have not yet begun to develop a strong sense of place in Burlington, although I suspect that this will come in time. Andover has had such an impact on who I am as a person, and for that reason, I believe that it will always have a strong sense of place for me when I return to it, even when I move to other towns or states. I felt so much happier being back home with my family and close friend during this break and it reminded me of how many connections I have back at home that I lack here.

November 10th Trip to Redstone Quarry

•November 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

By visiting this location multiple times, I have begun to feel a connection to Redstone Quarry by understanding the sense of place it has. Like the definition of sense of place that was used in class mentioned, I began to feel this connection after spending time there and I was able to form this connection because of its location within nature. I feel a connection with the quarry on a smaller scale in terms of just the place itself out of the context of any larger areas it may be a part of because I generally enjoy spending time outside and in nature. However, that connection is not the only reason why the Redstone Quarry has a sense of place to it for me, it also has to do with its geographic location within New England. It reminds me a lot of my hometown and spending time in the woods or camping with my dad and siblings since we always spent a lot of time in nature when I was growing up. My hometown also has a lot of natural areas and trails that are similar so I feel like that similarity is part of the reason why I feel a connection to it. However, it is clear by going there that this space has been severely impacted by human activity and it would not have had those same characteristics that it has today if I were to visit the quarry 100 years ago. Since it had been used for mining in the past, it is likely that the area had been deforested previously and the ecosystem had been disrupted to make way for human development. Its transition into a natural area with many different forms of wildlife and plants gives it this sense of place from its ability to recover from disturbance and revert back to the way it had been as much as possible before human intervention. 

I noticed many notable phenological changes during this trip, most notably, the transition from fall into winter. The second time I visited the weather was sunny and significantly warmer than this trip where it was dark and cloudy and barely warmer than 30 degrees. While there was some evidence of leaves falling off the trees the last time I went, there were hardly any leaves left at all this time. I also noticed more details about the quarry because there were fewer leaves obscuring my vision, such as the weathering on some of the trees and the abundance of the cattails. Although I had seen both of these before it became evident to me that they were more prevalent than I thought. I also realized that the pond that I initially thought was just located on the right side of the area actually ran along almost the entire length of the rockface, but I had not been able to see most of it before because of how dense the leaf coverage had been before. I also noted that there were far fewer animals there, most of the birds had probably migrated south and I only saw a few still flying around the area, and the weather was certainly too cold for the insects that I had seen there last time.

Red oak tree with dead leaves clinging to the branches

One phenomenon pointed out in the November section of Naturally Curious that was present at the quarry were the leaves of American beech and oak trees turning brown and dying, but not falling off the trees like other deciduous ones at this time of year. I was able to identify a few different red oak trees, and they all still had their leaves attached to the branches despite it being quite late in the season.

Small crab apple I found on the ground that had fallen off of its tree

I also took note of a dead tree that was providing habitat to some of the few remaining birds that had not migrated, or as Naturally Curious defined it, a snag. There were also numerous trees and other vegetation growing from the base of the dead tree. This tree is an example of a dead organism still being able to play a positive role for the other organisms of an ecosystem.

Dead tree providing shelter and other uses for the organisms in the ecosystem

There were some other aspects of the changing seasons that I took note of during my visit that can be seen in the photos below, or things that I had not noticed from my previous trips.

Thin sheet of ice on top of the pond
A large bird’s nest on top of a tree
Evidence of human land-use in the area from these scraps of roofing from a house
Plant with fuzzy buds growing from the top

Field notes from this trip:

October 30th Trip to Redstone Quarry

•October 31, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Since my first trip there have been noticeable seasonal changes that have taken place. Most notably, more leaves have begun to fall off the trees and the ground is barely visible underneath the layer of leaves. Many of the deciduous trees are bare, making the coniferous trees stand out more. The small pond and stream have become coated with leaves and algae. The soil and leaves on the ground were fairly wet because of the recent rainy days.

After I drew the map of Redstone Quarry from memory, once I arrived for the second time and explored the area surrounding the main quarry further, I realized that there are a lot more wooded areas present than I remembered. During my first trip, I stayed in the wooded area near the pond and the area with the large rock wall, but I explored the area more this time and discovered more vegetation. Consequently, the map I created did not include much tree coverage, but I realize now that the map should have included more forested areas. Additionally, since I had not explored the entire site last time I thought it was smaller than it actually was.

I noticed a number of different species, and the six I managed to capture in photos were a bee, male mallard duck, slug, butterfly, bird, and woodlice. I was surprised to see a bee so late in the season, however, the weather was fairly warm when I visited, around 65 degrees, which may have made the conditions more suitable for bees than it usually is during late October. The one species from the phylum Chordata that I did notice while I was there was a mallard duck in the pond. I could tell it was a male because of the characteristic green head, which is not present in female mallards. I also observed a slug underneath some of the leaves on the path, which may have been present because of the wet conditions. The most abundant animal present at the quarry was definitely the birds, and I did manage to take a photo of one that was resting in a tree. I was not able to identify the precise species, but I did notice there were many of them calling to each other and flying around the trees. There was one lone butterfly that I noticed and it stood out to me because of its characteristic solid black color. The final species I was able to photograph was a number of woodlice that were found inside of a piece of a log that had been rotting near the water. I did observe a few other species while I was there, including a squirrel and an inchworm, that I was not able to get photos of. 

The varying species that I observed that are generally seen in warmer seasons, as well as colder seasons, indicate that the climate at Redstone Quarry is in a transitional phase currently between the heat of the summer and the freezing cold of the winter. I expect that the next time I come there will be far fewer leaves on the trees, colder weather, and a decrease in the presence of animals such as insects that generally prefer warmer climates, or birds that tend to migrate south during the winter season.

Map of Redstone Quarry
Bee that landed on my water bottle
Male mallard duck
Slug underneath some leaves
Black butterfly
Bird (near center of page on the end of a tree branch)
Bugs, probably woodlice, on the inside of a wooden stump
Page 1 of field notes
Page 2 of Field Notes

October 20th Trip to Redstone Quarry

•October 22, 2019 • Leave a Comment

For my first observational visit to the Redstone Quarry, I went on Sunday, October 10 around 11 AM. When I first arrived, the temperature was around 50° and there were some clouds and sun in the sky, although the temperature dropped and it became windier and less sunny as time went on. One of the more obvious characteristics that I immediately noticed was the appearance of the ground. Rather than having soil, the ground was almost completely made of smoothed rock with small streams of water running over the surface into a marsh area that runs throughout the center of the quarry. The rocky surface was covered in lichens and had a strong reddish tint, suggesting that the area has been subject to many years of weathering. Closer to the entrance, there were many plants such as grass, moss, and a variety of flowers growing on top of the rocks, but these became more sparse once I crossed over to the other side of the marsh.

Although the Redstone Quarry spans over a relatively small area (I was able to walk from the entrance to one end in a matter of 2 or 3 minutes), there is still a large number of diverse species. I saw numerous different trees, the most abundant was Norway maples, as well as black cherry, spruce, red oak, and white pine. By looking at the leaf-covered ground it is evident that fall is well on its way, however, there are few trees that are completely devoid of leaves. In addition to the tress, there is an abundance of other plant life, including the aforementioned moss and grass growing on the rock surface, and reeds and cattails growing in the marsh. Although there is not a lot of water in the marsh itself, near the edge of the quarry, there is a small pond that the marsh drains into. On one side of the pond is the solid stone wall with a huge growth of vines and bushes over the edge of the wall. The water does not have a way to escape since it is encased by solid rock at the sides and the bottom, so the pond does not have a clear way to drain, causing the water to become stagnant. There were numerous algae patches growing on the surface of the pond. This may be simply due to the stagnant nature of the water, or as a result of excessive nutrients in the water like phosphorus.

In addition to the abundant plant life, there were also a number of different animal species throughout the area. As soon as I arrived, I immediately took note of the birds flying overhead and calling out to communicate with each other. Although I could not see them because they were hidden in the tall grasses and reeds, I could also hear crickets chirping, especially near the entrance where the grass was more abundant. As I walked along the path near the pond, I noticed a number of squirrels running along the branches of a nearby oak tree that appeared to be fighting with each other. I also glimpsed some sort of larger rodent, maybe a groundhog, running across the path. Overall, my first trip to Redstone Quarry showed the typical characteristics of a fall climate in Vermont, and I expect to see different distinguishing characteristics of the changing seasons during each trip I make over the course of the semester.

Rocky ground with water streaming over it
Norway Maple Tree
Small pond with algae and vegetation growing over stone wall

Welcome to my blog!

•October 9, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Hello everyone, my name is Sarah Cain, I’m a freshman environmental science student at UVM, and this is my phenology blog for NR 001. The place I chose to conduct my observations at is the Redstone Quarry located off of Hoover Street in Burlington. I will be observing and blogging my findings at Redstone Quarry over the course of the fall semester on this site. The background image on the blog is a photo of the location in the quarry I will be observing.

 
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