Prompt # 4: Sense of Place in My Hometown

02 Dec

Over the past few weeks in both lecture and lab, I had the opportunity to explore the concept of sense of place (SOP) and the significant connection between “place attachment” and “place meaning” on the stewardship of natural resources and my own well-being. Because of this, I feel that it is a great opportunity to reflect on my relationship and SOP with my hometown of Sayville. Some questions I hope to answer during this reflection are: How have historic human interactions within Sayville shaped the landscape I encounter today? What role does the biophysical dimension play in creating a SOP where I live? And, how is my SOP influenced by the region in which it is being analyzed?


Sayville is a small village on the south shore of Long Island, NY. It is called “home” by about 12,000 residents and only 51 miles from Manhattan. It has a charming downtown and residential streets with cute Victorian homes. It currently brings in the majority of its revenue from summer tourism. However, it was not always this way. During the 1700s, there was an active commercial fishing economy on the south shore and eventually reached a point where Sayille was the “Oyster Capital of the World”. Fishermen would harvest eels, killies, clams, oysters, scallops, blue claw crabs, bait crabs, fluke and flounder. Not so far after, Sayville became a rather wealthy community. Many of the streets were paved with “sea gold” which were oyster shells. However, in 1985, the fishing economy began to decline due to brown tide, overfishing, and a series of hurricanes. Currently, only small communities of fishermen work on the bay for their livelihood (Moglia).


Unfortunately, there are only a few remnants of this iconic past left in the town. This is because many of the buildings and facilities used in the industry were located on the waterfront, which is a very desirable lot type for residential construction. As a result, as I walk through Sayville, one of the only reminders are plaques telling me that I am walking on gold (Dickerson). However, I believe that without the strong maritime industry many of the small shops and restaurants I go to every day would not be there



The biotic and abiotic factors of Sayville’s Landscape dramatically impacted, and continue to influence, the relationship I have with the area. Living right by the water allowed me to have many unique experiences and relationships that define my SOP. I vividly remember going down to the waterfront with all the kids on my street and playing in the water and going tubing and making sandcastles before going on the ferries to the national seashore. Without these memories, I don’t think I would have developed such a strong connection and even love for the place that I live. Even when I got older, I was mesmerized by the beauty the island displayed. My friends and I would go to the beaches and watch the sunset. Below is one of my favorite sunsets I ever saw.

My desire to know everything I could about the place I lived led me down a path of research on biotic factors. This ranged from Menidia menidia, a common tidal fish, to the climate change work with non-for-profits. Gaining knowledge on species that were specific to my area allowed me to feel a stronger sense of connection and therefore positive well-being.

Source: Brady G. Dolan
Source: Sayville Ferry Service Co.


Source: Save the Great South Bay

My sense of place changes depending on the scale with which it is analyzed. One can look at it based on the street I grew up, the schools I attended and even the entirety of Long Island.

Looking back on the street that I grew it has a very distinct feel and therefore a SOP like nowhere else. I know the name of every family on my block and the age of every kid. I also have a bunch of kids on my block (8 to be exact) that were in my graduating class. Therefore we grew up with one another. We created our own traditions and “secret clubs”. For that reason, that street has a very special place in my heart that brings back amazing memories.

The unique location of Sayville also creates its own sense of place. Being located on the south shore of Long Island allows for access to both forested areas and beaches. The people in many of my schools appear to have a balance just like the landscape. Many people have high-income jobs however, are also very relaxed and want to enjoy a day on the beach in the summer.


Dickerson, Charles P. A History of the Sayville Community, including Bayport, Bohemia, West Sayville, Oakdale, and Fire Island. S.l.: S.n., 1975.

Koehler, Erin. “Sayville, New York: The Happiest Town In America.” The Odyssey Online, The Odyssey Online, 17 Oct. 2019,

“Long Island- Sayville.” Save The Great South Bay, 4 Apr. 2017,

Moglia, David. “The Oyster Makes Its Mark on Sayville History.” Sayville-Bayport, NY Patch, Patch, 30 Sept. 2011,

“Oystermen at Work.” Sayville Library Home Page. Web. 29 Sept. 2011.


Extra Credit Opportunity

25 Nov

San Souci County Park

Sans Souci is french for “without worry,” and at Sans Souci Nature Preserve you will be able escape the stressors of daily life by walking through this serene park filled with plants and wildlife.

Monday, November 25th

Source: Suffolk County Parks


Weather: 47 degrees F. The low for the day is 36 F and a high of 49 F. There is an 80 percent chance of rain for the next 24 hours following this visit but was bright and sunny during my visit.


Prompt # 2:
During Thanksgiving Break, I immersed myself within San Souci County Park with some of my friends. It is located on the South Shore of Long Island and is 316 acres of pure nature preserve. The natural history of this site is extremely fascinating. That being said, I would say that both places give me a similar sense of place.



According to the Suffolk county’s website, Sans Souci consisted of one continuous lake until the mid-1800s when small dams were erected to turn the land into a cranberry farm (Suffolk County Parks, n.d.).  As I continued south into the preserve, I crossed back and forth to the lakes’ eastern and western sides on thin land bridges.


Species # 1

Suspected Species: Honey Fungus, Armillaria mellea

Species # 2

Suspected Species: Thinleaf Huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum

Species # 3

Suspected Species: Vomiting russula, Russula emetica


Species # 4

Suspected Species: Crape Fern, Todea barbara

Species # 5

Suspected Species: Walnut Seed

Other Species that are present in this landscape include:

  • Pitch Pine
  • Black Walnut



This is one of my favorite spots where I live. I consider Sayville to be a suburban to almost urban land type, but San Souci is totally different. It provides an escape into a totally different world. Whenever I felt the need to clear my head from the stress of high school, or even life, It was only a short bike ride from my house. Here, I would be able to walk down the trails with my dog and just take in nature. As a result, I associated this place with a calm feeling. However, I also used this space as a way to exercise. Me and one of friends would constantly go out for runs in the park. Therefore, I would say that this place reminds me, and still does, of times when I was happy and calm and able to enjoy nature.


This sense of place I experience in San Souci is very similar to that of my phenology site. They both have small wooden bridges to navigate across the water that flows beneath them. They also serve/served similar roles in my life. Throughout the semester, I have gone out to my phenology site just to get away from the school for a little. Additionally, there are similar species present, creating a similar atmosphere within each area.

This being said, I do not think that my phenology site has of strong SOP as San Souci. This is because I have many more memories with friends and family.


Suffolk County Parks. (n.d.). San Souci . Retrieved from


Prompt # 3

12 Nov

Monday, November 11th


Weather: Show showers and 27 degrees F. The low for the day is 25 F and a high of 27 F. There is an 80 percent chance of show for the next 24 hours following this visit



Sense of Place From a Phenological Perspective



Over the past month, there have been many phenological changes. These phenological changes have resulted in changes to my “sense of place”. When I first visited back in October, the landscape was much different than it was on this cold, dark, snowy afternoon in November. So far, I feel that as the seasons have progressed, I have developed a stronger “sense of place” for my spot. This is definitely because I have established a connection to it during my weekly visits. Furthermore, even though there are tons of changes occurring, which allow for greater appreciation, there are also a lot of static characteristics. When I return, I am able to appreciate the new while also being grounded in the old aspects of the site like the 3 Black Walnuts.


Sense of Place as a Puzzle Piece to The City of Burlington


Source: Google Earth

My spot within Centennial Woods also has a sense of place within the bigger picture of Burlington. Many nature spots, like Centennial Woods, are used by homeowners as well as tourists as a way to experience Vermont’s beautiful outdoors. Therefore, I would not be suprised if many other people had this connection to Centennial Woods or woods just like it. I personally fell that an area you have a “sense of place” with doesn’t need to be unique. You would probably have a similar “sense of place” with an identical place in Oregon as you would in Burlington. However, what does make it unique is the experiences within each of the places, and that may only occur in one place.


Sense of Place Throughout History


Source: UVM Special Collections
Source: UVM Special Collections


Sense of Place for Centennial Woods has definitely changed throughout history. When looking at my spot there are those 3 Black Walnuts. However, right behind that are dozens of white pines. From an ecological and land-use perspective, they are considered to be an early successional species and therefore indicate that the land was most likely farmland in the past. The owners of this farm most definitely had a different “sense of place” than I experience it. They saw it for the economic stability provided and as their property.


Field Notes:



Prompt # 2

01 Nov

Friday, November 1st

Weather: Partly Cloudy and 46 degrees F . The low for the day is 30 F and a high of 46 F. There was a zero percent chance of rain for the day. That being said, there was a lot of rain the day prior to this visit.

Map of my phenology spot!

While going for my second visit to the site many things have changed. Let me just start off by saying that the trek to my site was a tad more treacherous.

Anyways, the Black Walnuts no longer have their leaves and the water depth was about 10X deeper than it was during my last visit. This makes sense since there were 3-4 inches of rain the night before this visit. On this topic of water, this timing definitely resulted in high turbidity observed. This stark contrast from the 1st visit can be seen below.


The Changing view


This large amount of rain has caused a significant alteration to the morphology of the creek. The new path of the creek is pictured in the map above. Some of the major changes include:

  • High levels of erosion to the banks resulting in falling trees
  • Higher water velocity resulting in the movement of wooden bridges
  • Increased Turbidity of the creek
Shows the increase in creek volume where the bridge once was.


Black Walnuts have lost all of their leaves, as seen in this photo.

When looking at vegetation, I have already mentioned that the Black Walnuts have lost their leaves. This, however, is just the beginning. Many of the grasses have begun to die or were pulled out due to the rushing creek exposing the silty soil beneath. Many of the low lying saplings are now gone or have fallen into the creek.

More on the Wildlife & Plants of My Place

In my first post, I gave you a brief introduction to the wildlife and plants of my spot. Now, we are gonna go a little deeper. Below are 6 species that I did not see on my previous visit and appear to characterize it right now!

Species # 1

Description: Found at the base of the Black Walnuts. Rich green color for the entire plant. Appears to grow close to the ground. Additionally, it has small leaves with many veins. Finally, there are little ridges on the outside of the leaves.

Suspected Species: Ground Ivy ( Glechoma hederacea )

Species # 2

Description: I think it is some type of gilded mushroom. Brownish gray in color. Probably 4-5 inches in height. Found at the base of the Black Walnut.

Suspected Species: Hygrophorus inocybiformis

Species # 3

Description: There appears to either be a bush or a small tree. It has blue colored berries and a distinct black bark. This plant was found right near the edge of the water. Due to the big storm, the night before, this tree feel over

Suspected Species: Blackthorn ( Prunus spinosa )

Species # 4

Description: This appeared to be some type of fungus. It is white in appearance. Additionally, it has a crystal-like structure.

Suspected Species: Schizophyllum commune

Species # 5

** From former visit ( Oct. 13th) however wanted to try and identify them for this prompt**

Description: The back of the fish is olive to golden-brown. The sides are very silvery. Probably close to 6 inches in length. Found in the rocky bottom creek.

Suspected Species: Fallfish ( Semotilus corporalis )

Species # 6

Description: Reminds me of a canopy in front of a building. Additionally, it has a neutral to brownish coloration on the top. Attached to the lower half of the tree. Never found high up on the tree.

Suspected Species: Hoof Fungus ( Fomes fomentarius )

The presence of these particular species also provides insight into my area. For example, it appears that Schizophyllum commune may be phasing out for the season. This is because this fungus can not handle temperatures below 59 degrees F. Another species that can be looked at is Hygrophorus inocybiformis. Most of the time, it is found with or at the base of trees (both broadleaf and conifer) and hence typically found in woodlands. This provides insight into what type of land type the area may be. These are only two examples, this technique could be completed with the hundreds of species in the area and provide a great deal of insight on the landscape characteristics.

Field Notes:

Critical Reflection of Map

This exercise of mapping my spot was super helpful. I think it made me more aware of my surroundings ad even made me discover some plants that I didn’t know were there (aka. blackthorn). Additionally, it allowed me to look for where changes took place. I feel that I had a good recollection of where things were from my first visit. As a result, anything that was off was easily noted when comparing the landscape to my map.


Welcome to My Place!

13 Oct

October 13th, 2:21pm

Weather: Partly Cloudy and 51 F. The low for the day was 42 F and the high was 55 F. There was a zero percent chance of rain for the day.

My spot is a 5-minute walk into Centennial Woods. You know you’ve arrived when you step off a bridge and can hear the faint sound of water trickling across rocks. Additionally, there will be a change in the substrate beneath your feet. The soil will feel like it has greater sand component and possibly even a little muddy if you go following a rain event. When you look to your left, you will see the creek that runs through the forest. The largest 2 trees in the center of the area appear to be a Black Walnuts. There are also some smaller Black Walnuts in the surrounding vegetation. Some of the other smaller plants include these two unknown plants that are pictured below.

The water level was relatively low when I visited. That being said, there had not been a rain event in quite some time. The banks of the creek were quite unstable and eroded but held together in some places where grasses were present. When looking at the substrate in the creek, it is very rocky. There is also a pile of rocks that creates the rippling effect you hear upon arriving at the site.



The Wildlife and Sounds of My Place

When it comes to wildlife, it appears at first that there is none. However, if you sit by the water’s edge, and just take it all in, more will reveal itself. First, the “water striders” appeared. They skipped across the water like a figure skater on ice.

“Water Strider” using the high surface tension of water to move across the surface.

Next, the fish appeared. They were quite afraid. They quickly swam out from under shade created by the bank and then darted right back to where they seemed to feel safe. Finally, you will begin to hear the birds as they sing. Paying close attention, I began to hear distinct songs that were repeated over and over again. Enjoying my time, I began to whistle their song and felt as though I was singing with them – I suggest you do the same.

Fish swimming in the creek.


If you listen carefully you can hear several bird songs. To determine what birds were present during my visit, I compared the recording above to registered bird identification songs on Cornell’s Ornithology Lab website and determined they were most similar to that of the Black-capped Chickadee and the House Finch. To think I had no idea that they were sharing this beautiful space with me.

The Soil of My Place

After sitting on the ground for a while I began to wonder what the substrate was that I was sitting on. Looking back on what we learned in NR 001 thus far, my mind went to the soil triangle. In order to really get connected it my site, I wanted to complete a primitive soil texture analysis. I did this by filling up a large glass jar 1/2 full with the substrate that was near the bank. Next, I added water and shook up the solution. I brought this back with me and let it settle overnight. The sand would then settle out first. After that, would be the silt, and finally the clay.

This is what I was hoping mine would turn out like! The Large heavy substrate would settle first and the last to settle would be the clay as it the smallest sized substrate and therefore the lightest. Source:

After letting it sit overnight, they were able to separate. I then measured the total height of the soil as well as the height of each section (sand, silt, and clay). From here I calculated the percent of each by doing the part / whole x 100. These percents were then be brought to the soil triangle to determine the approximate soil type.

Composition of the soil from the bank of the creek.

Looking at the column, one can see the high amount of sand (75.5%) compared to that of silt (22.7%) and clay (1.8%). Based on these percentages we can look at the soil triangle below and determine that this substrate sample is Sandy Loam.


Soil Traingle
Source: USDA

Field Notes:


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