February: Survival

Hilker, D. (2020)

looking at my site this month, it looks almost identical to last months trip. Snow pack is still present underfoot, maybe a tad denser with the more recent snow fall, along with small buds on trees/bushes.

Hilker, D. (2020)

this visit i observed squirrel tracks once more. these tracks floated around the site, disappearing and reappearing around trees especially. Squirrels tend to reside in trees, living and storing food (Nuts, Seeds, etc.) there during the winter months. they are also only active during the day when the sun is up (Branford, 2014). Given their chosen place of residence, these track patterns make sense.

I also saw some Rabbit tracks in the woods, these tracks crossed paths with the squirrels tracks multiple times. they are both considered small woodland animals, despite ground squirrels being predators of some rabbits. rabbits are herbivores, fast runners and burrow and nest in tunnels under ground (Bradford, 2017). i didn’t see a tunnel entrance, but given the tracks it wouldn’t have been surprising if i has seen one.

Potter, B. (1903) The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.

all and all, the site hasn’t shifted that drastically from my last visit, the squirrels tracks were even in a relatively similar place as my February visit.


Bradford, A. (2014, June 27). Squirrels: Diet, Habits & Other Facts. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/28182-squirrels.html

Bradford, A. (2017, March 7). Rabbits: Habits, Diet & Other Facts. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/28162-rabbits.html


starting the new semester, i choose to take the opportunity to switch sights. as much as i loved my first semester sight and really did connect with it, it is rather hard to get to in Centennial. i’ve chosen a much more covenant sight, the woods behind the Wing, Davis, Wilks dorms. this spot includes a combination of well grown tress and small shrubbery/smaller trees. to get to the spot, i veer off the sidewalk of the parking lot behind the dorms and onto the (now snow covered) trail/path that walks to the little wooded area. once i arrive at the wooded area i take a right and head of the beaten path to my little nook in a tree that i found.

once there, i started exploring twigs and wildlife tracks.

i found what looks to me like gray squirrel tracks, headed to and around the tree i was using as a home base.

i then started looking around at the trees and sapling buds that were around that area.

Sense of Place: Baltimore

Baltimore Maryland is a very complicated place to grow up in. Where I live in downtown Baltimore Is very divided, the city is subdivided by neighborhood. You can be walking along a street and watch the neighborhoods change, see the difference in culture and danger level as you walk into a new neighborhood. Neighborhoods in Baltimore are mainly divided by race and economic status. A common phrase is that a neighborhood can flip within a block.This division made it really hard to have a natural love for my city. I grew up always having my guard up, always ready to fight or run. This is what I call my city instincts, things like never walking around with two ear buds in, having your head on a swivel and always being able to run are all within this definition.  

Baltimore is a dangerous city for many. We have one of the highest homicide rates in the country and no matter how compartmentalized it is in specific neighborhoods; the feeling of danger radiates across the city. I grew up knowing about the danger, knowing about the things that were happening less than a mile away from me. There was no room for polite vales or living in blissful ignorance when people are getting shot around the corner from your house.  

My relationship with Baltimore has gone in waves. Waves of love and of hate and of passion and of distrust. I started finding love for it when I gained more independence at the end of my junior year of high school when I gained more independence. I started going for runs along the waterfront path by my house. I saw different nooks and crannies of the city that I found genuine love for. The neighborhood of Fells Point holds a much more special place in my heart than it has before just based on these runs. I started learning the history of Baltimore. How the city went from an agricultural farming to industrial shipping and mining. How redlining and segregation changed the demographic and cultural atmosphere of the city. How the war on drugs and policing influenced violence. All the history gave contect to the cities culture and mannerisms today.  

I found space in my head to justify and fight back against the systemic injustices caused. I started advocating for healthcare as a means to diminish the racial and economic gaps. While doing all of this I was still running along the waterfront, still building a relationship with the places I love in the city. I was finding cafes to get coffee at, restaurants to eat tasty stir fry in. While acknowledging the problematic and complex aspects of Baltimore, I was finding the good and the happy aspects as well. This is where I left my relationship with the city, looking for the good.  

Visit 3: Sense of Place

This visit to my site was a very interesting one as snow has covered the general Burlington area! The tone of my place has totally shifted with the snow. It is light everywhere; the snow is doing a good job at reflecting the small amounts of daylight we are still receiving. Leaves are still falling from the few trees that have hung onto them. I noticed some white oaks with many of their yellow leaves still attached. But the pines are just as I left them, green, pointy and stable.  

I choose this location because I knew that these pines would remain a representation of stability and predictability as the rest of the forest changed with the seasons. It’s also why I choose my place surrounding a tree, to increase my feeling of stability surrounding my phenology site. Within this sense of stability, I did notice a change in how I related to my place. It wasn’t as dark as it was when I first stumbled upon it. The whole area is now illuminated by snow. It feels happier and more joyful walking in with the light reflecting throughout the trees and vegetation that is still present.  

This site and its placement in centennial are just an easily assessable example of the New England forests in winter, which aside from skiing I have experienced very little of. It all feels new to me even if it’s not a new phenomenon. Centennial used to be pasture land, then was miscellaneously used land for a while after it was bought by UVM. Now it is being revitalized and preserved as forest. It is used for recreation as a park and for education by UVM. It is increasingly become more and more a forest and park as time goes on. The more space that centennial is given, the more it returns to the forest it once was.  

Field notes:  

  • Snow cover  
  • White oaks still have leaf’s  
  • Pines still look same  
  • Vegetation almost totally covered  
  • Quiet  

Naturally curious  


  • Preparing for winter (building nests, food storage, denning, going dormant, migrating) 


  • Final things before winter/starting prep (molting, final eggs hatching, hibernation, migrating, etc)  


  • Summer birds start migration  
  • Flowering and fruiting  

visit #2

Pine trees really define this spot. The other organisms found here supplement the pines. The birch tree was particularly prominent at this moment as it was very yellow. The ferns on the floor of the forest were the only stand out vegetation at that level of the forest. Red maple was also stand out because of its coloration and its bright red leaves. These organisms seem to be stand outs because its fall and foliage was in its last prime days.  

The foliage was at a different stage than it was before. There were more leaves on the ground and less on the trees. The color is starting to dissipate from the forest as the leaves are falling as winter approaches. The pines look very similar if not the same. The pine needles are starting to become one of the only green vegetative organisms left in this area.  

The soil right now is wet due to recent rain fall. My place has mostly dropped pine needle covering, but right now there is also a lot of maple and birch leaves covering the ground as well. This means that there is more water retention/absorption happening in addition to soil. 

It made me think about my place in a much more detailed way. Before making my map, I thought about my space through a much more areal lens. I now have a better understanding of where “my tree” stands interns of the whole pine stand. I have a photographic memory, so I remember places in a very special way. Until I get the image of a map in my mind, I have a really hard time understanding how a spot like this play into the bigger layout of a park or forest. After making this map, I feel more grounded in my place and have a better understanding of its composition.  

Field Notes:

  • more leafs on ground
  • less noise
  • wet ground

Trip 1: An Introduction

The journey to my spot in Centennial Woods starts either from Central Dining Hall or from WDW on Redstone campus. For this trip, I started from Redstone, working my way to my site via athletic campus and weaving through L and L down main street and into the Centennial area. I took the back entrance into the woods through the parking lot and up the short hill to the path. I then take a right and follow the path, then taking a left until I reach this opening. This is the first really dark feeling area in the woods. There is an abrupt change from birch and maple trees to pines at this stand. This is part of the reason I choose it. The darkness and abrupt change intrigues me to watch through the seasons. I was excited after first picking the spot a couple of weeks ago to come back and see the foliage working its way into peak season. I am excited to see how snow looks, how chartreuse green of new tree buds look from the shaded area of pines.  

My site in Centennial Woods is vastly defined by northern white pines. Looking up, one sees majority pines with (right now in foliage season) a smattering of colorful leaves mixed in. The main reason I choose this spot because of one particular tree. The first time I visited I spent a long time just leaning up against this tree and connecting with it. It sounds silly, but I really do have a connection with this tree. It has a feeling about it that just resonates for me in a bazar grounding way. Coming back to it felt like coming home and seeing an old friend. This tree is the perspective that I look at my location through. I stand next to it, lean up against it or walk around it to understand my place. This tree serves as a grounding place for me at this pine stand.  As I stand there, I work to fully absorb the nature of this place. How it is changing, what has changed, what hasn’t. That’s part of the reason I love pines, they tend to be as seasonal constant, they are resilient and have a strong nature. I’m excited to see the light change, how much there is, how little. I feel a deep connection with this area and am extremely excited to have an excuse to come back again and again.  

Field Notes:

  • leaf laden ground, pine and variety of others including maple and birch
  • foliage season
  • northern white pines
  • major shift to pines
  • slightly compact ground, not as compact as path leading in
  • on the top of a ridge, downhill on either side and moving forward on the path