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Rhoads Pond-Hira's Site Reflections

hirakismail's picture

Final Site-Sit

I decided I would observe Rhoads Pond this last time with my eyes closed. After the wonderful experience of "seeing" the campus with Carmen, I had the desire to do the same with my site-"sit."

It was unnerving! Especially the last part. The first part was still calm. I took a deep breath, dropped my bag, closed my eyes, and went. I had my hands in front of me. It was really pretty cold but I didn't want to wear my gloves because that would numb my sense of touch which I frankly couldnt' afford. Walking my site "blind" was a bit intimidating. I didn't have the reassurance of a 15 person class to hold onto. But I could go at my own pace which helped. The first place I reached was the tree I had initially chosen as my spot to sit in the beginning of the semester, the one situated right outside the pond fence. This whole endeavor was interesting because it was a place that I am so familiar with now visually. This was a test of that familiarity. As I felt the branches, I found it soothing to have something to hold onto. I surprised myself by knowing the shape of the tree pretty well. I reached up and grabbed onto branches I knew were there; as I slowly circled the tree I guessed the location of the bumps and the branches and knew when to duck underneath an overhanging part. I definitely leaned on it at one point, in a sort of hug. I was able to recognize where the extra growth was and use that to orient myself when I started leaving the tree to walk toward the fence. 

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Bridge at Night!

So as I decided last time, I wanted to walk the stone bridge at night. I went this time as the sun had already started setting, and it struck me how quiet it was. Or rather how quiet it became, because as I was descending the hill, I could clearly hear the ducks/geese quacking in the pond. When I got down to the lake however and decided to cross the fence, they quieted down, probably sensing my presence. When I go in the late afternoons, there is often so much background noise; either the athletics teams are cheering or there is some traffic noise. Eventually though, they quacked lightly and shifted their positions in the pond. I think some were settling and trying to sleep. This is the first time in all my visits that I've gotten to see ducks, so I was very pleased and excited by this. As I stood out on the bridge, I remember thinking that animal life can be very noisy too; it's not just humans who can be loud. I could hear the ducks all the way from Goodhart when I was approaching.

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Site in the Snow/Sleet

I visited the site in the snow/sleet and at night. These were two major changes to how I am used to seeing the Pond, so I found this to be a new experience. The water was dark, the trees were barely lit up by the lights from Rhoads dorm, so I did not venture out on the rock bridge this time. I did however stand at the fence and freeze. The cold has a way of waking me up, and it was snowing and the wind was very strong. I was so distracted by all these elements that I could barely pay attention to the site itself. It's been such a long time since I've seen snow, and coming from Arizona originally, I only really get to experience it when I'm here. So I was ecstatic, couldn't stay still, or pay attention to my surroundings much. The one thing I did notice though was the water. It was glistening in the surrounding lamplight and it literally looked like it was casting its own light rather than reflecting projected light. Once I noticed the water, I paid more attention; it was easy to see the rain drops cutting into the water, melding with it, and moving it. The water levels grew slowly higher and it was so so cold. I remeber feeling so overjoyed and all of my surroundings were friendly this time, rather than intimidating like they were during my Thoreauvian walk in the night. I thought of Sara G.'s post about how we project our own feelings onto our surroundings, perceiving our surroundings through the tunnel of our emotions. That felt just about right; I feel like that was precisely what was happening in this situation.

hirakismail's picture

Rhoads Pond in the Cold

Walked out onto the rock bridge again today, and spent a lot of time just kneeling on the rocks and staring out at the water. The ripples kept coming, but these are air ripples, not caused by what was going on underneath the water, but more by the heavy breeze that was blowing. It kept pushing the water in wave-like ripples toward the bridge I was sitting on. When I looked directly by the rocks, I noticed I could not see the continuous waves; I could only see the movement from afar, from up close, it looked as if the wave movement was blocked by the marshy grass and plant growth. Then I realized that you just needed wider perspective in orer to see, to actually stand up and look out at the larger body of water. The bigger picture. I found this fascinating, and kept changing my position to better see the waves. It was very very cold today, and sitting in the middle of the pond on the rocks was very exciting. I felt very awake and focused and aware. I also got to see how physically the breeze was affecting us all--the stemmed plants in the lake, the reeds, the water itself, and me. I had to pull on a puffy winter coat, gloves, and hood in order to sit outside. It was neat to feel mutually affected by the weather, and to, for once, be paying attention to these affects. I wore better shoes this time so I could spend more time walking around the area. I was, in this way, able to walk all the way to the dirt hill in the middle of the pond, and was thinking of going further, but the area was blocked by more reeds.

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Walking Near the Pond

Finally decided I needed to walk past the fence and see the pond up close. What from far away seemed liked a mess of greenery in the pond, maybe some over growth of moss, up close was this pic below. The photo doesn't capture it completely, but these plants break the surface, but wind way down into the water. In the pic, one can see the leaves within the water; I reached to see how far down the stems went, and they just wouldn't end. There was so much complication and so much depth to these plants. Some had leaves that were pointed, others had smaller ones that fit like confetti in my fingers that had floated up off the plants to the top. These small leaves were also attached to the stems. From far away, these were a bunch of green plants that had compiled or gathered on the surface, and after stepping up to see them, I saw that it was a lot more complicated than that. There was a variety of stems and leaves just on these single plants, and they were rooted in the pond itself, not just gathered on the surface.

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Nature Watching Versus People Watching

I wanted to begin with talking about how this weekly observation exercise is similar to ones I had to do for an acting class I took. I was told by my professor to observe and take notes on people in several cases. She knew I had a dining hall job at the time, and thus interacted with many people as a worker. She wanted me to take notice of people, both co-workers and students coming to eat. The idea was that by observing how people move, talk, communicate, and exude their moods with their whole bodies, as actors we could take in this information to enhance our own acting styles. In my time doing these observations, I realized that the dining hall is a place where humans are less likely to be performative and more down to earth. It is a place where people are completing a basic survival need-eating. So watching them take food from the salad bar or how they ordered food from the hot line was an example of this. Some would be in a hurry and wouldn't communicate much, hurriedly filling their takeout boxes, others would be caught up in conversations, almost everyone talked about how hungry they were. Just observing human interaction at its most basic was my goal, and I would journal about it afterward.

hirakismail's picture

Genre of Thoreau Walk

To examine the genre of my written Thoreuvian Walk is difficult. I don't know whether I can quite name it in a specific genre. It is not a tragedy, it's not a comedy. Is a reflection a genre? I think my "walk" is still quite like a pastoral, but it does explore partially the idea of the hidden and the parts of the earth that are difficult to navigate. So maybe it's slightly Gary Snyder-esque? That's what I will call it now, a pastoral with hints of Gary Snyder. So now to write it into a different genre. Not sure what to call it? Not exactly a tragedy, but sort of leaning toward it.


hirakismail's picture

Site Changes

To begin with, I was so busy emailing the photos to my email so I could upload them, that I thought my assignment was done. I didn't realize that I didn't actually post anything until after my job at the library, I apologize for being late :(

Changes! So many! I dedicated today's observation to seeking out any changes occurring in the area. I could see from very far away that there was an orange growth on the tree I sit under. It was so bright orange, I thought maybe it was the foam that is put to block out and exterminate bee hives. As I got closer, I thought someone might have left a handkerchief tied on the branches. Then I saw this:




















hirakismail's picture

Rewrite of 2nd Site Evaluation and Nan's Seal


As I was looking out at the pond again, I had in mind Gary Snyder's suggestions, to see the wild, the unspoken parts of nature. To concentrate on the grit and the hunger and the survival rather than the peaceful. This was really hard still, but the closest I got was to notice the continuous ripples in the pond. They came very often, and I remember hearing somewhere that if there was a ripple, that meant something in the pond had just been hunted or eaten. Thinking about this, I saw the ripples differently, and started wondering what exactly was going on under those waters. There was a sports game going on to my right (probably soccer judging by the sound the ball was making, I didn't actually go and check to confirm) and the players were cheering on eachother loudly, and in general communicating with eachother about maneuvers in the game. I wondered then vaguely, if they were under water, how their loud voices might make the sound ripple. Then that lead me to imagine the organisms in the water. Were they also 'shouting,' 'yelling,'did they make enough noise to make the water ripple? What did it sound like under there. I took this pic of the water ripples, and also a video, but I couldn't manage to post the video, as the software wasn't compatible :(


Bohm and Snyder:

hirakismail's picture

A different viewpoint?

I wanted to start off with this photo, an example of the cultivation of the way to my site:

The grass is mowed in very neat rows on this hill, the hill I take to get down to the site.

When I approached it this time, I decided to leave my backpack away from the tree. I didn't want it to get in my way or in the way of the site. It seemed necessary somehow to leave it behind.

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