I grew up in New England, specifically rural western Massachusetts. Because of this I typically feel a strong sense of place in the woods. Growing up the forest was my backyard and the wildlife that lived there were my neighbors. Some of my best memories as a child were long walks or cross country skis in the woods behind my house. When I am in my spot in Centennial Woods I get a similar feeling of comfort and nostalgia that I get from being in my back woods at home. They are peaceful and serene. This particular visit to Centennial woods was special to me because the day before was the first snowfall in Burlington. This left the woods covered in a dusting of glistening snow that adds a whole new perspective to the woods. As a child, I always thought of the first snowfall as a fresh start. Like turning to a new page on a coloring book, fresh and clean. Now that Centennial woods is mostly forested land, I find that I have a stronger sense of place there. In the mid 19th century when the land was cleared for agricultural lands and timber, I think that that would significantly affect my feeling of place in this area. Since I have never been a farmer and many of the people that I grew up knowing or associating with did share have that identity.
I have always found the forest to be one of the most peaceful places on earth. It doesn’t matter where, but surrounded by the quiet and nature, thoughts about the chaotic outside world seem to fade into the soothing rustle of the leaves. When I am in my spot in centennial woods I feel this way. Calm, grounded, and in harmony with a natural world that is stronger and wiser than the entire human race. When I am in centennial woods you can hear the birds chirping. They are songbirds and their whistles come out in drawn out melodic tones. Like a choir, they serenade the forest. Although the leaves have been changing and the temperatures dropping, a steady few remain. Additionally in the white noise of the forest, I can hear the sound of the grasshoppers. One of the leaves of a tree close to the entrance of Centennial woods has morphed from a pale green to a vibrant pinkish color. If the sunset were to be a leaf, that is what it would look like. In one of these leaves, there is evidence of past insect interaction. Bite marks that mark the meal of a small forest creature. A conspicuous characteristic of my location in centennial woods is a large ditch that is about 2×3 feet in dimension. It looks to be created by an animal that needed a place to sleep or hide. The forest floor that used to be covered in dirt and forest debris such as sticks and greenery is now sprinkled with red, yellow, and brown leaves. The land is relatively flat. There are several squirrels roaming about my spot as well. This time of year is an important one for this species because they must prepare their food supply for the winter.
The place that I chose to observe the phenological changes in is Centennial Woods. When you enter Centennial Woods, the spot that I chose is behind the information stand. There are several characteristics of this spot that make define it and make it recognizable. The first is that it sits behind the information stand which marks the entrance of the woods and evidence of human contact with the land and the space as a whole. Additionally there are many trees but one in particular always sticks out to me. It has a crooked in shape with three trees coming out of the base of the trunk. The base of the trunk also has a large opening that exposes some of the insides of the tree as the forest floor debris inside. There are several other markers that indicate to me that I am in my spot in Centennial Woods. One of other more distinct features is a large hole in the ground where it looks like and animals may have dug for a burrow or for hibernation of some sort. Additionally there is a pathway that leads to my spot. Since I live on Redstone Campus, ride my bike over to Centennial woods. I typically go through the main part of campus and have to cross several cross walks along the way. When I am in my spot in Centennial Woods I feel peaceful. There is something about being surrounded by trees that gives me a different perspective on life and the things that really matter. I feel much more in tune with the earth and nature and overall it is an extremely positive feeling. Additionally, I feel both thankful and lucky to be able to have access to such a serene place and to be able to experience the miraculous changing of the seasons.
10/1/19: Overcast skies, humid, 65 degrees Fahrenheit
- Leaves remain on the trees and are mostly green.
- One tree has distinct red leaves along its vines and they cover the forest floor.
- Hole/ditch in the ground
- Birds chirping
10/15/19: Sunny, 60 degrees Fahrenheit
- Many leaves are yellowish in color Less leaves present on trees (40% have fallen)
- Birds and mosquitos still preset
- Crickets/grasshopper making noises
- Leaves on forest floor yellowish/brown in color
- Some leaves (green ash) bright pinkish color
I will be using this blog to share my observations of the phenological changes of Centennial Woods throughout the semester.
I hope you enjoy!