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Easy Like Sunday Morning...A Geological/Botanical Tour

sarahj's picture

Three freshmen from Anne's ESem, Max and I begain our ramble around 10:13am on Sunday morning.  I know Max and I didn't discuss planning anything out for the trip and I don't think the freshmen did either. 

We started walking toward Taylor Hall from Erdman to start the geological tour, but Max thought that, since we were by her site sit, we should stop by and look at some of the plant life around there.  She pointed out the English Ivy and a beech tree and we discussed whether or not we thought this one plant was a weed.  Stemming from that last topic, we talked a bit about what we thought weeds were and Max cited the definition that we came up with on our botanical tour that "a weed is something that is not where it is supposed to be and doens't want to leave" (please correct me if that is wrong). 

We paused here for a bit longer to discuss what had and what had not been helpful to us in class thus far.  The freshmen each cited the amount of writing that is required in their ESem as helpful to improving that skill for them, though they are becoming a bit tired of the repetition.  We compared the location of class between our two classes.  The ESem holds class in a different location each day and that location is chosen by a different student (the same way we chose whether to be outside or not).  We told them about our system and compared the merits and distractions of both strategies.  One thing that stood out for me was that, althought the freshmen enjoyed getting to know a new location each day, they did find that they were more distracted during class because they had to attend to different things.  Another thing that we discussed for a bit was the amount of time we spent talking about our feelings in class.  At first it seemed that we had come to agree that we were annoyed that we had to spend so much time talking about feelings and that there were SO MANY FEELINGS!  And, there are a great deal of feelings.  However, one thing that I pointed out is that, since we're in this ecofeminism unit, we have talked a lot about how emotions are undervalued in our patriacrhal society and we were able to hear that reflected in our own speech about our annoyances.  We did all agree that, although it can be annoying, it is nice to be in a class in which emotions and personal experience are considered really valuable.  That really made me feel like we were doing something to combat patriarchy or something.  In this class, when someone raises their hand to talk about a personal, the class does not roll their eyes, and secretly grumble about how personal experience is not a credible source.  This is also a class where the phrase, "I feel" will not be corrected to "I think" or "I believe".  Personal experiences and emotions are on equal footing in this course...they can even be questioned in a similar manner.  I think this single point makes me see the connection between environmentalism and feminism. Or, rather, the environment and femininity.

From Erdman, we moved to Taylor and Denbigh and were introduced to the two kinds of rocks Wissahickon Schist and Baltimore Gneiss(pronounced like "nice" I believe).  Following that we walked to Morris Woods where we saw a young buck trotting out of the trees.  We identified Privet and verbanum, spice bush, the yew, and the tulip trees also walking toward the bench and attempting to talk about the difference in percentage of native vs. non-native plant life on either side of the wood.  We traveled toward the cemetery and saw the same tree that looked as if it had been struck by lightening that several other posts have described:

We noticed there were a lot of dead potted plants that had been placed in the cemetery.  Does anyone know if those have been there for a while.  We talked about how close the houses are and how you wouldn't think the wood was this small upon entering from English House.  Oh! I forgot to mention that Max pointed out the dried up stream.  We walked back along a clearing that was covered with tire tracks.  I saw several tractors in the woods a couple days ago so I assume this is from them.  Following these tracks we came to posts and then piles of tree stumps, mulch and other wood debris:

We concluded our tour by returning again to the geological and walking over to Mill Creek.  One thing that stood out was learning that the soil closest to the stream was hard because the heaviest sediment remain by the stream, but the lightest silt makes it farther away making  ground that is farther away from the stream, softer.  I also found it interesting to see how the stream had been altered through an added wall.  We also talked about the streams connection to Lower Merion Township runoff and Rhoads Pond.

It was also a very enjoyable experience to meet new people and talk about our different experiences in our classes.