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Susan Anderson's picture

Muddy Connections

The Sunday before Thanksgiving break, I found myself thinking about mud.

On our geological biological tour, we did not exactly follow the directions to the letter.  The instructions were to spend time talking about the class, then proceed with either the geological or biological tour, and after that one was finished, go on to the next part.  Our group started by talking about the class, which was interesting.  It was like seeing a parallel universe Ecological Imaginings.  Small things like the places we have class and the majors within the groups are different, but we are really getting the same things out of the class, a better understanding of our ecology.

After that portion of our time together, we decided to walk across campus (from Erdman where we started to Mill Creek) and whenever we saw something that was incorporated into our respective tours, stop and talk about it.  I liked this.  In a way it was very ecological.  We didn't separate geology and botany into distinct group, but addressed them as they came in the natural flow of our sauntering.  

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Being Pastoral

Today, as on every Sunday, I sat at my spot, the labryinth.  It was cold, but it was calm and peaceful as usual.  Afterwards, I went to the town of Bryn Mawr and found even more peace there.  While at my site sit, everything was static.  It seemed that the world froze everything to a standstill.  Even the squirrels were still today, and I enjoyed this moment of pause before I carried on with the rest of my day.  As I crossed under the train station and through intersections, I experienced the same peace of mind I found in my spot echoed in the town of Bryn Mawr.  Except, there was movement.  The cars drove past, people bought things, and the traffic lights changed.  Even though it was a normal day, it all seemed like an ideal, harmonious day in a small American town.  I guess you can be pastoral about any landscape, human or natural.  

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Today I was thinking that Bryn Mawr is really a garden.  The nature around us is not really wild, but placed in certain ways to make it appealing to people walking on it.  It is a very natural garden, certainly.  It reminds me of the English gardens around the time Versailles was built.  Because Versailles was such a big feat all to make Louis XIV look powerful, the English responded to it by saying that their king did not need such a grand waste of money to prove himself to his people.  The English particularly seemed to despise the sculped, geometrical gardens as seen in Versailles.  So, they made their gardens extremely natural.  They were not wild, but designed to look wild.  I guess Bryn Mawr is not this designed wildness of the English, nor the unnatural sculpture of French gardens.  It is a happy medium.

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Sharing a Space

Today, as it was the last day of Family Weekend, my parents were here.  We had brunch at Wyndham, which was a pleasant affair, and then my mother suggested we go walk the labyrinth before they left.  So, of we went.  In my head I was thinking, "How convenient!  I can multitask!  Parent weekending and site visiting at the same time!"  So, we walked the labyrinth together, I said goodbye to my parents, and I sat on the bench near the labyrinth for a while longer.  As I was sitting there, I realized what a difference being alone versus being with other people made.  I mean, the whole time going through the labyrinth none of us were speaking, so it wasn't the noise level or the presence of conversation.  I guess it was just sharing a space with an outsider, the feeling of presenting something that I love to people who do not really understand it yet.  There is a certain nervousness like when you peek over the shoulder of a person reading a book you reccommended, thinking, "Like it!"

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Waiting for Sandy

Today it is cold, it is dark, but it does not seem like there is a catastrophic storm coming.  When I leave the dorm, all I hear is rumors about how classes might be canceled.  I sit outside, on my bench near the labrynth, and all I see is a gray day.  It is interesting thinking about how this place will look in about twelve hours.  The slight breezes that push the leaves today will morph into monumental gales that will make the trees look like they are on roller coasters.  I've heard that no trees will most likely fall down, but I wonder if the landscape at the labrynth will change by the next time I come here.  I guess I'll just have to enjoy the view I have for now, before all of the brightly colored leaves are blown away.  

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Ancient Cycle

I come back here every year.  It is my place in the summertime.  I can already see the maize climbing the hillside.  It will feed my family for many months.  I will take care of this blessing from Mother Earth, as Mother Earth takes care of me.  I turn back to the present day's work.  My family and I must set up our living arrangements before it is too dark.  We keep this cycle going every year, moving from place to place month to month.  I know it will stay the same forever.  Me, my family, and the wilderness season after season.

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Thoughts in Nature

Wet bench.  Cold.  Cold.  Wet.  Rain falling down.  Do I really have to stay the whole hour?  Yes.  Yes I do.  Leaves and rain fall together.  Check the time.  People walk by.  Trees sway.  The nature looks nice even if the sky looks gloomy.  Miserable is a word that we use to describe the weather, but it really describes how humans feel in the weather.  Check the time.  Pay attention to the sounds.  The soft patter of rain dominates every other sound.  On listening further, I can hear the wind and the rustling of the trees.  Snyder.  Worms coming out in the rain and then decaying on the sidewalk.  Gross.  Next time I'll need a thicker sweater.  Cold.  Check the time.  Time's up.  Meh, this wasn't so bad.  

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Night and Day

A first attempt at an hour’s observation brings only awkwardness.  In the night I venture forth determined to find a blissful solitude in the darkness.  I reason that the night is for indoor activities, not natural, and I will defeat the crowds by having my hour out in the night.  I walk up the hill to the labyrinth.  I see a couple gazing at the stars.  I walk quickly away. 

The next afternoon, I try again.  I go out when the weather is beautiful, when I figure everyone would be outside.  I reach the labyrinth and I am the only one there.  I take one hour letting the warm sun and the cool breezes soak into my skin.  No one comes.  I am with nature while the rest of the world is stuck in their dorm missing this glorious feast of the senses.

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At Peace with the World

The thing that struck me most about my experience in my spot today was coming back inside.  Outside, my hour was peaceful.  It was sunny and there was a light breeze.  I was for the most part left alone by the labrynth, just relaxing and observing nature.  As soon as I started to walk back to my dorm, though, my inner monologue started reciting all of the things I had to do when I got back.  I stepped back into my technology and my homework without a thought, leaving the peace I experienced back where I found it.  I had an epiphany while reading my art history textbook that it did not have to be this way.  I could bring the good feelings I had outside into my attitude even when I was doing work.  Needless to say, I was much less stressful after that thought.  

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