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Phenology and The Four Seasons

Epilogue: Part 2, What Can’t Be Forgotten

Posted: May 2nd, 2019 by kkbrown

I try and think back, on this rainy day, what did my field look like when I first found it? And what I did I feel when I first saw her?

I must admit that although I’ve changed little I’m still different from back then and I don’t think I can look at it the same.

Much like the end of last semester I tried to capture a different perspective for this final entry. So I got this view from the back entrance where I don’t think that I’ve gotten a picture before. This picture and all the others were taken by me.

I looked at the usual spots of course including the view from the field and I saw that the path was quite lush and salubrious in contrast to the gray sky.

I also went back to that overlook, which you can see in the top left corner of the first picture, where I perched back when snow covered the terrain. But now the view is quite different.

I can’t really remember what I felt when I first saw her but I remember that I thought she was beautiful. Maybe it’s like how I stop on days like these to admire the flowers glistening on the trees like chandeliers.

I still think she’s beautiful but she’s lost something that for me made her precious. Still I like to think that I have some kind of connection to this place. She isn’t mine, she never was but that’s not so bad. I’m just a casual friend who acknowledges her existence with a polite hello or a nod of the head. It’s odd to think it but she has seen some of the ups and downs of this year for me.

She welcomed me within the first few days of my college experience and flashed a radiant smile.

She cast a glance my way as I took my new girlfriend out to walk her paths. And she noticed as I came with her again and again before I stopped coming.

I returned to find her sleeping under winter’s blanket and when she woke she might have found that my tracks had no partner.

But then and stretched her limbs, rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

I’m glad it was me and her, no one else, for this last day. I’d wanted just a one on one to think about where and who we were.

Much like me, She breathed in the rainy May day like a sweet nectar and showed me another beautiful smile.

Yeah I’m part of my place and She’s a part of me. Nothing big like my heart or my head but she’s a part of me in a minuscule way and I’d be over estimating myself if I said I was a single blade of grass in her midst. This land has been around for far too long and become part of far too many people for me to account for a big section. Just thinking about these others who were living here and had to leave this recent Winter I know that I’ve received and contributed far less than most.

This place is home to people and animals. Culture and Nature. I focused on the latter during most of Fall. I didn’t mention those living there and I didn’t think about how the people of the neighborhood must use this space. Did they take walks like I did? Did they care when their entrance was taken?

If you were curious the development seems to be proceeding smoothly.

Quite a lot has gotten done since I got back.

Obviously some valued the land for development and I’m sure some will value the housing it will provide. I just wonder if they too will value my favorite red maple or the birds that flutter to and fro. I often forget to think about this but this is undoubtedly a great part of this land where I have passed my time. And it is this that has caused such great changes in the beauty I knew. I won’t see that patch of bright, colorful flowers that originally drew me in anymore.

And there’s also what was unduly left behind like the rock and dirt seen in the above picture. This unassuming little patch is most certainly not untouched by human creation and waste.

But there’s always something to look forward to. I love days like these. I can breath in the essence of spring and I get to see these guys:

I remember seeing them this time most years. I love how soft they are. It’s when I look at this that I think maybe someday I’ll come back.

Epilogue: Part 1, Remembrance and Spite

Posted: May 2nd, 2019 by kkbrown

This will hopefully be a brief post. I actually went over to my site on Tuesday, April 30th. I did this in part to spite Walter Poleman as it was not May quite yet. I was left aggravated because I believed that the last post I did was the last one required and that we would have this week to prepare our finalized blogs, which was the case last semester. I was severely mistaken and to be honest I still feel a little betrayed.

I did go to my site however. And not because Poleman told me to! I did it because the day was gorgeous, I adore walks and I had good company in my friend Jack Rider who took the following picture:

A Sunny Day in APRIL.

As I remember the moments I’ve had here I don’t regret making this my place and I think I’d make the same choice again if I could. I’ll hold myself back from talking about those moments so I have something to give the next post something with value. Stay tuned. I’m heading out there now

one last time.

This Better Be the Last One

Posted: April 26th, 2019 by kkbrown

As you might have concluded based off the post I made before Spring break, I believed that I had already completed our last post until last week in NR. But I really don’t mind having another. I just wish we had some more forewarning and that it was due at the end of the weekend, instead of midday Saturday but así es. I’m actually thinking of going one more time before this whole thing gets graded, we’ll see.

I had a grand time this last Tuesday when I went to my phenology spot. I actually got to bring a friend who took some pics for me. All the following pictures, with one exception, were taken by Jack Rider, UVM class of 2022. There was some changes but not as much as I expected but let’s get into it.

I decided to take the back entrance via the Staple’s parking lot because I believed that construction would be going on, not to mention that the original entrance was kinda destroyed, and lo and behold I was right. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture of the construction, they’re getting some progress in. But I did take this picture at the back entrance. It shows the view from the trail by the back entrance, looking out into the field. Me and my friend walked out because I wanted to see if I could get a look at the birds fluttering in the distance.

Undoubtedly we can all see the grass signaling the coming regrowth but I was hoping for some real flowers. I think, however, that it will be a while before the full splendor of this beautiful field is seen again. Though I did enjoy crunching through the grass and trying to spy at the critters running hither-thither underfoot. I also enjoyed the songs of the birds, though I couldn’t see them. I’m glad I waited ’til today to do this because just moments ago I was talking to a birder and she described the song of the northern cardinal, which I think was one of the birds I heard.

After that I went through the usual walk around. The only real signs of life returning was the grass regrowing and the flowering lone red maple.

It really was a pretty sight. I knew that red maples flower early so it didn’t surprise me when I saw this but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. If anything it just added to the suspense before I actually got to see it. The flowers are nice and pink and it was set against a beautiful sunny day which added to its splendor. I observed as I walked around, through campus, later in the week that some of the oaks were in bloom but others like the horse chestnut had yet to join the fun.

I sketched out one of the twigs and the flowers but I have no hand for art so here she is, you can compare the real thing to my monstrosity:

I hope to see the fabled May flowers soon but for now I’m satisfied.

I Got Dem Pics

Posted: April 26th, 2019 by kkbrown

It was a day or two after the last prompt was due that I got the pictures from Colombia but I didn’t feel like putting them up so it was put off until now. But hey, now you can see them.

The park holds 1.761 hectares of land that makes up part of the 8.229 hectares of protected forest zone.
The climate stays around 15 degrees Celsius and has typical conditions for a humid tropical mountain environment(lower humid mountain forest)
Finally the good stuff! When I walked a bit deeper into the woods along a path, I came to this spot and decided to observe the canopy to my side.
It might not be too big but this little critter on this tiny twig was pretty cool.
This was a cool find because me and the girls I was with were and wondering why the leaf was shaped this way and what service it provided. We also found that the shape was the same on the underside of the leaf.

Hope you liked my photos, it was definitely a fun adventure.

The Epilogue, A Comparison

Posted: March 18th, 2019 by kkbrown

I had somebody else who I was with take all my pics so I’m working on that. They are great pics though so I’d love it if you saw them, even if it doesn’t add to my grade.

I took about five days out of Spring Break and went to Colombia, el país. It was very beautiful and it was a wonder being there and despite being in the city I was able to go to many places brimming with nature and I was lucky enough to go to the park for ecotourism at the top of one of the mountains surrounding the city I was staying in, Medellín. It was called Parque Arví and I was amazed just trying to analyze the change in forest composition as I was riding the cable up the mountain. It was noted that the park has a focus on biodiversity and looking at it I saw a huge swath of rain forest brimming with mystery so I was excited to start my temporary phenology site there.

I was able to receive some helpful facts that I took a picture of but we’ll see if I can get those in on time. What I took into account, though, when I first made distinctions between the two sites was just the obvious difference in classification. I very easily noted that the soil there was rich in clay, to the point that the sides off the road were red in clay and that the whole city was built with bricks made with the red clay and Medellín isn’t a small city, with 2.5 million people plus. This added on to the fact that we were in the tropics, on top of the mountain meant that the site got a lot of precipitation and was able to hold onto that precipitation because of the soil. I also didn’t hope for too many similarities between my two sites because my temporary site was by all means part of a tropical rain forest, whereas my site here in Burlington is a field in an area dominated by temperate deciduous forests. But I did find some similarities.

The high precipitation I do believe mimics my original site to a degree. We here in New England do receive a heavy dose of precipitation and because it was on top of the mountain the temperature at the time mimicked what we might experience in the spring.

But that’s where the similarities ceased to be apparent. The soil type at my site in Burlington is, as we all know, characterized by glacial till and sandy, rocky soil owed to glacial lake Vermont. This means that the hydrology of both sites are vastly different. Even if at certain times the sites experience similar amounts of precipitation the two sites experience that precipitation differently. And this is quite obvious when looking at the plants there. A lot of the plants that I looked at had waxy leaves which I attribute to a desire on the plants end to conserve water. I at first thought that that couldn’t be the case considering the high precipitation experienced but then I realized that there is a dry season as well and when the rain isn’t pouring down multiple times a week then the little bit of water that falls might have a hard time permeating throughout the dense clay soil. This must have led to plants adapting to hold on to water when they get it so that they manage through the variety in seasonal precipitation. The plants at my site don’t seem to really have this problem as much. They have a different set of problems.

Looking at the poverty grass on my site I think, “damn I’m glad I’m not farming here.” That’s for a couple of reasons; firstly the growing season is short, secondly there’s a lot of rock in the soil getting in the way and thirdly the soil nutrients aren’t super high. The poverty grass competes exceedingly well on sites where there aren’t enough nutrients to support other species. This seems to be vastly different compared to the rain forest of Colombia, which I believe has a very fast nutrient flow with plenty going into the soil and immediately being extracted out by the surrounding vegetation. In addition this is happening all year round in Colombia, there’s no stop to this process really because it’s “the city of eternal spring” and there isn’t a winter like ours where everything has to develop a strategy to survive and propagate next year. The vegetation doesn’t haven’t to worry about frost or ice so they can just keep growing as long as they have nutrients.

And the wildlife is different as well. I didn’t see any cottontail rabbit tracks which are a common sight at my site in Burlington. I only heard a rustle from the brush and took note of a couple of insects that resided there, including spiders and what looked kind of like a yellow lady bug at the time.

Al final it was a wild time trying to analyze such a different place. I saw a host of plants that were so foreign to me and I could scarcely remember them all.

Forever and an Age

Posted: March 5th, 2019 by kkbrown

I really dislike this new format for the blog. For some reason the format was changed so although my previous posts and the blog in general looks the same I have to use an entirely different format to make new posts which caused me much distress for the first few minutes.

I titled this post as such in reference to the end of one of the novels I’ve read or more like one of the last parts. The novel I was reading was never completed. It was written by the author but the translators were only able to translate the entire novel except for the last few chapters. I think this shows how I feel about my phenology site. I enjoyed the excursions that came along and I learned a bit along the way, just like the book, and the story isn’t even over and there’s no way to really know how it’ll end. I keep waiting to see if I can learn what happens next and maybe I’ll come back to check but I don’t hold much hope that I’ll ever know.

Now for this very impromptu assignment.

Well I don’t feel like talking about the lab assignment quite yet and it’s my blog so harrumph.

Some cool tracks I found.

I actually stumbled upon some tracks that were really clear today, just as I entered my site. I think they belong to a fox based on the shape. I looked at the guide and they look more like grey fox tracks to me but I don’t believe grey fox would live near my site and I’m sure that I have trouble telling the difference between the two so I’d bet that they’re red fox tracks.

Here’s a recent view of my site:

I forgot to brighten the picture

In addition to the natural changes, the development has ramped up next to my site, luckily nothing on my site has been touched but it’s interesting to note the changes.

A pile of different left after construction, the foundation for the new building is in the background.

I can only imagine how much mineral runoff there will be with the coming spring thaw. There is a slight slope that will bring most of this to the high way, my site is subjected to the same slight slope so it too will experience this erosion, although not on quite this scale because of the shrubs and flowery plants that exist there. I still believe that my site will experience a good bit of erosion though. I believe this because trees make up a minuscule part of the site and the grasses and shrubs can’t hold in everything, especially for the spots where the vegetation has been cleared for trails.

Still I can’t wait for Spring to come. I obviously desire the warmer weather but I can also get excited to finally see all the plants that drew my sight in the first place(get it?).

At the start my site was lush with grasses and flowers with a few large shrubs and a single red maple tree. The spot was very quiet, aesthetically pleasing and subject to the occasional rain. As time went on the snow started to fall and the residents camping in the field couldn’t go through a winter outdoors so they packed up and left meaning that human activity was at an all time low. As the weather got colder the colorful flowers ceased to be colorful but nevertheless stood tall to remind us of their beauty. Then the snow fell and it was as if the plants, with all their tenacity, conceded to the snow fall what they never would to the wind and rain of summer. They let themselves rest and lie dormant beneath the snow. The land was flattened except for the big bushes, shrubs and that lonely maple. Now some of the grasses can be seen again, bent under the snow still. It will take a bit more time before they stand tall again. The oppressor will have lost his place, the snow will come in dustings and storms but it won’t be kept as the grasses, filled with the heat of spring, continuously beat it out.

Alright now I’m feeling up to snuff. I think that my site is an example of the temperate acidic outcrop natural community. I don’t think that the ecological potential of my site would allow for it to be woodland after the development and it’s use over the years. Because of this I looked at the open upland community types and I find that the high elevation types such as the boreal outcrop or the alpine meadow definitely didn’t fit the bill due to the elevation of my site which only left a few others. I believe it’s specifically a temperate acidic outcrop because some of the vegetation at my site seems to be the characteristic vegetation one would find in such a natural community. For instance the only tree that I consider in my site is a red maple which was mentioned as one of the characteristic species of the natural community and looking back at the pictures from the start of Fall and end of Summer I think that a great bit of poverty grass was in my site but I didn’t identify it. Wetland, Woodland, Wildland mentioned that poverty grass is very common at those types of sites so I looked up images of poverty grass and it appeared that I had some. In addition to this, one of the featured characteristics of temperate acidic outcrops and upland outcrops in general is the rock that lies near the surface and I found quite a bit poking up.

That’s all that I believe I needed to peg it down after having narrowed the possibilities to two or three in my mind.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure as much as I did. Maybe I’ll come back to make another post or two. If you have any comments please come talk to me. I do enjoy verbal communication much more than electronically written comments.

-Signing off, Kris Brown

Now I’ve Done It

Posted: January 29th, 2019 by kkbrown

Well I had to go back so I could prove to everyone that my site wasn’t all talk and no walk so I trekked my sweet arse out to my site but I took the quicker route this time, heading east on main street and going through the back of the Staple’s Plaza. My labors were not fruitless but I do wish that I had gone at a better time so I could’ve got an even clearer look at how the pads came out in the prints. Still…

 I don’t really know exactly what species this here is but it’s paws couldn’t have exceeded ten centimeters and the formation of tracks look like a bounder’s right?

 I likewise don’t know who’s tracks these might be but they’re much bigger than the rest of the tracks around and the tracks kind of start up again a good couple feet away again so I think that this here is a galloper but I’m still kinda confused as to the differences ‘tween bounders and gallopers in tracks. I know the difference in actual movement but it’s obviously still troubling me. This is the other set of rather sizeable tracks. You can compare my foot for size which is about a foot with maybe a centimeter more boot included. The track shape makes me think that its a diagonal walker with that indirect register thing. I trust that after I go through the tracking lab this will be considerably more accurate and I’ll be able to I.D these.

 These tracks were by far the most common. I think that these could be cottontail rabbit tracks. I make this conjecture because the tracks seem to have the right size and seem to follow a gallop pattern after looking at the handout and the tracking guide.

The tracks were all located either going to or from the cedar bushes and spruce trees on the edge of the field initially I wonder if the rabbits wanted to eat the berries on cedar bushes and took cover under the trees in bushes as well. After I pondered this I followed the tracks and found some go under this opening in the plastic fence on the other edge of the field.

 I followed the tracks over the fence and I stumbled upon quite a sight.

 There are a whole host of tracks here and they seem to be predominantly rabbit tracks. I was wondering why these couple of trees and rocks attracted so much activity and I thought I saw some of the tracks come from the construction site which was in use at the time. Maybe the rabbits got scared off when the workers got to business this morning.

Guess Who’s Back

Posted: January 27th, 2019 by kkbrown

 Well I’ve been gone for just over a month and look what they’ve done. They’ve already got the foundation of a whole new building done. I assume they won’t quit now. They must’ve been working all winter. I saw tracks while they were here before but this won’t make my work any easier but then again I didn’t see them midday today.

To try and meet the assignment’s demands I found the single deciduous tree in the entire field, which was previously inaccessible due to being the encampment of another man but he hasn’t touched his camp in probably over two months due to inclement weather which is advantageous for my studies and terrible for him.

I proceeded to try and identify the tree thereafter. I took observation of the twigs and the bark and I even found one or two shriveled leaves hanging upon it’s limbs still.

I believe that the tree is a red maple/acer rubrum. I made this judgement because the leaf shape makes it some kind of maple, the bark doesn’t seem like a striped maple to me and it’s too tall to be one anyway. Additionally there’s the bud that I saw in the identification video, last semester, for what I thought was red maple and the stem if the leaf is red too. On top of all that red maple is notorious for stump sprouting like this tree here.

After my mental toil I went down memory lane…

 Oh the big bush I always see. It’s so barren.

A little farther down I found a pesky old friend.


I’m fairly certain that this guy is a buck-thorn bush. It’s got that point on the end and the buds look like deer hooves.

 This is the open field but now it’s quite with no flowers softly swaying. I also fail to notice any tracks here but I did notice a couple indistinct tracks on the edge under the bushes. I’ll come again, the snow earlier in the day must’ve covered the tracks of the center field.

 They piled snow way up high, I think over ten feet, between the field and Staples. I got a new view because of this.

I say PETCO on the way back so I stopped in. Here’s what I saw:

My family had ferrets for pets when I was really young so I stopped to take a look and the guinea pigs were running around too. But I didn’t want to spend my day there so I left after a couple minutes.

All in all good day.

Winter Baby!

Posted: December 6th, 2018 by kkbrown

IMG_2828.TRIM (1) IMG_2828.TRIM I don’t know which one is first and which isn’t. The second starts with me making a comment about multiple homeless people living there.

This is a quick video of my adventure. The important second half is coming when I can figure out how to post it on this blasted blog but I’m definitely escited about tracking. It’s really cool and I found that a good bit of tracks could be found around my site, at least previously. The recent augment in development doesn’t look to good for animal sightings. Even the people that were living there left but then again it is winter and it would be hard living through a VT winter outside. I found out that the development history is semi-complex. I actually found this out through the make-up lab I did.

This site showed me that the current developers actually had plans to take the field and construct a condo on top of it quite a while ago. This would explain why the area was cleared of trees allowing the field and everything to grow. The only reason they didn’t develop, according to this article, seems to be that the previous city council head didn’t want a condo built as it would block the view of the mountains from her house and so petitioned against the development. But as we now see the development does seem to be coming to pass. I asked one of the workers there and asked what they were building, unfortunately he was just delivering pipe but he thought that they were building another condo/apartment complex as well. I also tried to find more about the specific land use even farther back during the make-up lab but didn’t find anything. This doesn’t surprise me because, after all, nothing was built there. But in the years between the development attempts a few people were able to establish make shift shelters there with tents and a trail was carved out suggesting frequent passersby from the neighborhood going through for either recreation or to just go to Staples. I mean it is right there.

The videos were taken by Ciara Tomlinson and these pics were as well.  This is a pic from a different view over looking the entire field.

 The snow cover under this spruce really struck me. I can see why animals would like to take cover under evergreens. Don’t it look cozy in there?

 These are some cool tracks that we found. It don’t look like fox tracks or deer tracks which I thought would be the most common but they might be raccoon or porcupine tracks I think. I think raccoons would make sense because of the proximity to Staples and the Quarry Hill neighborhood. I don’t know how close a porcupine would live to these two places and I know that raccoons would have no problem rifling through trash or this and that looking for food.

Back In Town

Posted: November 25th, 2018 by kkbrown

my google map of my spot.

And here’s a hot pic of the cliffs:

Howdy party people. We’re back together for another round of phenology fun. I went to the forest in my backyard and specifically went to the cliff inside where I’d spent much time. The spot meant quite a bit to me because I’d been going out to the forest since I was a youngster and had been passing that spot most every time I went. When I was young my dad would through get strength of will oush me and my two brothers out of the house to go for walks and one of his favorite places to go to was there.  I’d actually increased my visits these lasts few years as well which gave a fresh connection to the spot. I’d gone running with my cross country team in high school and the cliff was a favorite spot for us to visit. Eventually we constructed a small stone shrine to honor cross country and our teammates. After that it seemed like the place that I had to go to if I went out for a run or walk. So the spot, which had always represented the forest and my history with it, grew to encompass the time I’d spent fooling around with my team and doing wacky stuff. When I go there I feel like I can calm down and be at peace for a little bit. When I need to blow off steam the woods is waiting and I’m always welcome.


This place of course differs from my current phenology spot. For one I don’t have much of a connection to my current site. I have gone a few times and gone with friends and tried to get to know the spot but it doesn’t inspire the same sentiment that the cliffs behind my house do, understandably. Looking at the physical aspects, the sites are also quite different. Where I currently am, behind staples is now covered by snow and even before was dominated by grasses and flowery plants whereas back home there are predominantly the three main types of oaks with a couple other species lying around, like this conifer I can’t identify and few lowers or grasses.

There are far less signs of human contact back home as well. Although the trails are marked out and the wildlife isn’t at a pre-contact state there’s still wildlife back in the woods and there are trees naturally developing there. In contrast, behind staples there is trash frequently found on the ground, human habitats and development is visible from any point within the site.

Bonus pic:

 These are some cute cones I found and I just haaaad to nab a pic.


I was recommended that I put a picture of myself in somewhere so here along with some other pics:


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