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Geological and botanical features on BM campus

Barbara's picture

We met with the 313 last Wednesday afternoon. It was a very nice sunny day for the exploration.  ESEMers first led the geological exploration. Our route was from Pembroke Arch down to Mill Creek. (Neither botanical nor geological exploration covered the other side of the campus.) I found the geological exploration was not a redundant experience at all. I learned a lot by hearing what other ESEMers said and feedbacks from 313ers. We looked at the rocks in the architecture and observed the geological conformation of the campus. We talked about the fall line and discussed that the geological foundations influenced how human constructed habitats. The anecdote about parking lots and the Rhoads pond was very revealing. We wrapped up when we reached the Mill Creek. The hidden place changed a lot from the last visit about three weeks ago. The thick layers of leaves made our steps clumsy and noisy. To some extent, I felt Bryn Mawr would not have been the same place without this periodically flooding creek.

We walked from the Mill Creek to the Morris Woods. I was very excited about learning about the botanical distribution on campus. I had a similar experience in Shanghai last summer and I took a lot out of that experience. After I came to Bryn Mawr, I realized the plants were very different from what we have back home. (I would not be able to tell had I not had the summer botanical exploration in Shanghai.) Though as we agreed that botanic-wise our campus is very well-labeled, the trip was much more informative than the nomenclature and taxonomy were. I was very impressed by the varieties of creative strategies plants had developed for survival. We observed two shrubs which looked exactly the same. However, their leaves smelt different. The identical appearance was a result of imitation. Those were two distinct species. We also looked at the vines that grew along the tree trunks. I never thought of removing them before because I thought they were simply hanging. But I tried pulling the vine away from the trunk and realized how deep they had grown into the tree. The vines always had nutrition because they stuck on the tree trunk! The competition is hidden by the serene appearance of the woods. We also met three deer (mom and two cubs I think) in the Morris Woods. It was sunset and was getting dark at that time. The eye contact between deer and human must have been interesting. I could not say what the deer were thinking, but we were admiring them – maybe for their beauty.

I also loved what 313er said in the discussion we had afterwards.  It was derived from their conversation in class about that how we talk about plants was not applicable to how we talk about human beings. In the Morris Woods, several times we talked about whether a plant was native to the land and which one was the invader. However, the similar definition applied in human society would be insulting and unacceptable. Why is that? For the plant, I’ve found invasion and competition are the rules of survival. Are human exempt from this rule? I don’t think so, but we cannot think ourselves as we think of plants. Maybe this is because we have a desire for peace. Maybe this is because we took ourselves on the top of the ecosystem so that we don’t compete with each other but rule the other species.