Nature and culture are definitely intertwined here in Centennial. As I’ve noted before, tons of people hike here and walk their pets through the woods. I know it’s definitely become a part of my culture, I have friends who also have their phenology spots in Centennial and we’ll all just get together and walk through for a few hours. It’s really cool to visit each other’s locations and be immersed in nature.
In December we learned about having a sense of place, and why it was crucial for us as humans to have that. I don’t think I fully grasped the concept when it was introduced, because now after having visited the same place all year I can genuinely feel like I have a sense of comfort and belonging there.
By now I do consider myself to be a part of this spot. Being with it all year I was able to watch it change through the seasons and different weather. I also feel like I’ve emotionally connected to it here. It’s funny because in the fall I had to take NR15: Ecology of Place, and one of the first places we went was to Centennial, and I also stopped by now in May to gather my closing thoughts.
I started and ended my freshman year of college in these woods, and regardless of whether or not I’m considered to be part of this place, this place will always be a part of me.
So this week we got to kick off Earth Week with a Bioblitz in Centennial! So you know I stopped by my spot to take some photos and observe the changes. Something really cool that I was able to document was the identification of some new species that I wasn’t able to identify in the past. Because I downloaded iNaturalist I was able to place a name to a few different species that I wasn’t able to before. For example although I know what Honeysuckle is I didn’t realize there was any growing in my spot!! And I also saw something called a Red Dogwood which was super cool because in my neighborhood in CT, there are tons of White Dogwoods so it was like a little taste of home away from home.
I noticed a bunch of buds on trees (check out this honeysuckle though!!) which made it really start to feel like spring. I saw the beginnings of some flowers which I’ll try to draw for you guys, but mostly I was captivated by the budding trees I saw. I also noticed a ton of dog tracks in the mud, so it was really cool to see that people are starting to go out and hike with their pets again as the weather warms. Have fun and don’t forget to check for ticks!
So you might be thinking, “this doesn’t look like centennial woods…” That’s because it’s not! As you may or may not know, UVM recently had spring break and while I was home I decided to check out a new spot. This location is actually my backyard (lol). My house backs up to a beautiful natural area that I’ve always referred to as ‘the woods’.
As I walked through, I was able to identify a bunch of focal species! I saw a bunch of what I assumed to be Norway Maples, Boxedlers, and Eastern White Pines. Also as I ventured deeper closer to the stream that runs through it I noticed scat that I’m nearly 100% sure belonged to a White-Tailed Deer. I see tons of them running through my year all the time. Attached is a photo of my house in comparison to where the woods are and how close it is.
Later that night when my mom and I were watching tv we heard like animal sounds that my dad identified as belonging to a Red Fox. I went back in the morning and didn’t see any tracks, but the ground was a lot more dry than it was in Vermont so any tracks that may have been there weren’t easy to spot.
Connecticut is very different compared to Vermont, but I was able to feel close to my phenology spot while at home.
I’ve been working on a classification for my natural area! I usually connote the term “woodland” synonymously with forest, but I recently learned that geographers use the term to describe a forested area with an open canopy. The canopy is the highest layer of foliage in a forest, made up of the tops of trees. An open canopy allows full sunlight to enter the woodland, limiting shade and moisture. Woodlands are super important as they often act as transition zones between different ecosystems, such as grasslands, true forests, and even desserts.
Given that working definition and understanding that I’ve established, the idea that my phenological location can be classified as a woodland makes sense given the amount of direct sun seen throughout the wooded area. The area is very ecologically sound and diverse, there is a stream really close by to me, and there’s definitely space for development and growth within the current tree and wildlife populations.
Following the snow and rain from winter I noticed that the soil was really wet when I visited and I was able to see that the topsoil appeared to be a sandy loam type. Although it looked flooded because of the mass amounts of precipitation, I was surprised to see that the area surrounding the stream maintaining its shape even with the slight flooding occuring.