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Geological/Botanical Tour

hirakismail's picture

When I initially was told we would be taking a geological tour around campus, I was wondering what exactly we'd be looking at. I didn't think of a water-site as immeditely factoring into a geological tour, but the ESEM students took us to the section of Mill Creek behind Batten House and talked about it's relation to geology. One of the students mentioned how rivers and water beds form by running through softer rock. If at first softer rock is blocking a water sources progress, eventually the water will wear down this rock and create an elongated pathway. As we walked through campus, the ESEM students shared how the time frame in which Bryn Mawr College's various buildings were built was also reflected by the rock used to make it. Pembroke and Radnor are made of wichenschist, Taylor and Merion of Baltimore gnisse. Many of the dorms also have bits of mica within the building rock "brick", a rock that literally sparkles in the sunshine and adds a shine to the outer building. I also found out that limestone is absorbant of water, and the rocks outside the gym doors that I thought were purely there for decoration suddenly gained an actual purpose. These rocks were placed immediately under a pipe on the roof of the gym that dripped excess rain water; the limestone caught the water and prevented it from spreading too much. Upon examination, it was easy to see where the limestone had been affected; it had turned from a starker white to a significantly green color in some spots. Srucara and I were also taken to the area near Batten House where all the excess rock had been dumped. This "rock dump" was so surprising; I really had no idea it existed and was taken aback by how many of these stones were lying around. Some were slightly damp (it had rained the day before) and some were absolutely gigantic. I got to feel sand stone as well. Realizing that geology applied to our campus buildings as well was a pleasant discovery. We were told also how Bryn Mawr, in its construction of the newer buildings like "Guild Hall" no longer used these stones; they are way too expensive to use now.

As for taking part in giving a tour, this was a very interesting experience as well. We started at Mill Creek, where the geology tour had stopped, and went from there to Morris Woods. Along the way, we pointed out the ground cover that also applied along the campus sidewalks in which many plants are trimmed and cultivated. We pointed out the ivy growing along the trees in Mill Creek as well, identifying the tulip trees that grew there, as a reference point for the woods. It was definitely very cold, but because we were moving the whole time, it wasn't unbearable. On the trail in the forest, we went through a tour of the spice bush (which was very hard to find because so many of the leaves had fallen off) and did something very similar to the exercise we did in class where we were introduced to different plant types in the forest. The highlight of the afternoon for me was when Srucara said, "There's Bambi!" which I, being in plant-searching mode, assumed to be a different type of bush that Srucara had forgotten to mention in class. But she pointed up ahead, and we saw, at a very close vicinity, a doe, a stag, and a baby deer. It was very exciting, and we stood a while, trying not to exclaim too loudly because that might scare away the deer, but it was amazing to just stand there so close. At Bryn Mawr sometimes I feel so entirely cut off from seeing animals, that this was a big, welcome relief. I tried looking them in the eye, and what interested me was how still they stood at first, but then continued along their way. I was expecting them to run, but the doe and the baby just kept walking along, nose in the grass once in a while. The stag didn't even bother looking at us too much, though when he emerged from behind the tree to follow, he did turn and look at us directly. I remember feeling such an interesting sensation, at the thought of this entirely different animal, with an entirely different anatomy and physique. It made me reconsider the human physique too; how strange might it be for a deer to see human beings with such a different body as well? It was hard to turn away from the deer, but we were drawing to an end of our time together, so we went to the English House to discuss.

One of the topics I brought up then was our discussion of weeds, both in this particular walk, and our 313 in-class exploration of Morris Woods. I remember someone mentioning how whether a plant was native or nonnative wasn't relevent to talk about anymore, and how it had all now become a mix. I remember thinking about how wrong this discussion would have sounded if one were to speak of humans this way too. The whole issue of colonization would be brought forth, and the idea of who was living in the States first would be extremely relevant in that context. The significance of native and foreign plants was brought forth for me in my exploration through Web Paper # 3 of Dhaka Dust, a book of poems that touched upon this theme. This was an interesting literary tie to the actual walk I got to take.