Hobblebush or Bust

Today was full of interesting discoveries at Centennial Woods. I identified this plant, with the help of Walt, as a Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides).  After researching more about it, I found that it is a small, shrublike plant, named after the hikers tripped on its vines.  Although the Hobblebush prefers high-altitude areas, it can survive in nutrient-poor lowlands.

Moral of the story: if you don’t know, ask.

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Identifiable Deciduous Tree Species

Trees that I can identify using my key:

  1. Sugar Maple
  2. Norway Maple
  3. American Beech (Cigar Buds!)
  4. Paper Birch
  5. Yellow Birch
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The Buds of Centennial Woods

American Beech Bud

Eastern Hemlock Branch

Norway Maple Bud

Red Maple Bud

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Diagram of Sugar Maple Twig

Drawn from a specimen within Centennial Woods. Scales and bark were both brown in color.

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My spot was visited by one dog in particular. Unfortunately, it’s been so icy and cold that it was difficult to see any other clear tracks in the snow.

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Changes in the Landscape

Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fell, each one a gem.

-William Hamilton Gibson

I arrived back from my winter break last evening. This morning, I decided to clear my thoughts and go and visit Centennial Woods to see how the area has changed since I last visited prior to finals. The most distinguishing characteristic of the landscape is the layer of white that blankets the soil. I was used to seeing leaf litter, but it seems like the process of litter decomposition had ceased. I couldn’t find any animal tracks in the snow because of the hard exterior of the snow drifts. I spotted a red-tailed hawk watching for rustling in the bushes for his next meal. Like a king with dominion over his kingdom, the hawk looked almost regal against the contrast of leafless branches.

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During my walk through the woods today, I took this picture of a snag, stripped of its bark and protective element. As visitors to our phenology places, I think it has become important to recognize how much we must give up to submerge ourselves in nature. For some, it is mere time, and for others, it is giving up time spent studying for upcoming final exams to go out and experience nature for what its worth. I enjoyed taking a break and going outside today to see some interesting natural elements of the Centennial Trails knowing that they may not be there as the snow begins to fall.

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Final Sentiments

The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness.

-Robin Wall Kimmerer

Through my exploration of Centennial Woods, I have learned many things about the ecology and history of Vermont. Growing up, I was exposed to John Muir and his legacy, but I never really understood his language when I wasn’t inside of nature. Since August, I have become attached to Centennial Woods and the Pine Stand and have found calmness when inside. The beauty of learning, as I’m sure Kimmerer would agree, is that it is lifelong and continuous. We can never learn everything, but are always in the pursuit of gaining knowledge. Through my studies, I expect to learn more about our relationship with the landscape and how it pertains to finding our truest self.

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The Human History of Centennial Woods

Centennial Woods is composed of 65 acres of mixed hardwood stands, conifer stands, meadows, and riparian zones. In the early 1900s, the land was owned by a dairy farmer by the name of Fred Fiske. Fred was originally from Brookfield, VT and attended the University of Vermont prior to purchasing the land. The site contains some evidence of its past; barbed wire can still be seen attached to trees and posts along the outside of the property. It was not until much later that the Vermont Electric Company put in power lines along the adjacent meadow to supply Burlington residents with electricity.

Above: A 1974 Map of the Board of Trustees’ Distinction of UVM’s Natural Areas. In order to advance their goal of having Centennial Woods as a protected area, they instituted a strict no-firearms policy and stated that the paths could not be further developed, unless for educational purposes (Courtesy of UVM Special Collections).

Source: The Changing Landscape of Centennial Woods Natural Area (UVM Natural Areas)


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Articles Regarding the History of Greenbriar Farm

  1. Building a Covered Bridge in Connecticut and a Link to the Past (NY Times)
  2. Richard Perry- The Bridge Out Back (INK Publications with photos by yours truly)
  3. Gold Mine Covered Bridge (VT Bridges)
  4. Connecticut to Get New Authentic Covered Bridge (CT Magazine)
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