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Hidden in Plain Sight

mturer's picture

After Monday's trip to Morris Woods, I have starting noticing more plants that seem to be invasive or are clearly taking over with no natural enemy. Because of this, when I got to my spot, I realized that I had never actually noticed the English Ivy. Looking now, it is probably one of the stone circle's most noticeable attributes and I am kind of confused as to why I simply looked over it. This place is such a mess of different plants that I assumed that all of the green vines were parts of various ones, but after paying attention to the Ivy in Morris Woods and thinking about how it clearly does not belong there, the vines in the circle seem more noticeable, prominent, and out of place.

There is a concept in science fiction which allows a device to be created to hide things in plain sight. The device limits your perception of things by making you simply fail to notice them and occasionally notice something else instead. This can only be broken when an outside source draws your attention to what's being hidden. I just experienced real life science fiction! I know, not really, but the concept behind the technology is real. I didn't even see the English Ivy and I even perceived it as belonging to multiple plants until somebody else told me in a different situation to attend to the invasiveness of it. When I got to my site today, the presence of the ivy was almost creepy as I had never seen it before, but I had been seeing it every week at the same time.

I think this is how invasive plants spread. We were talking about the spread of landscaping, but I think this phenomenon is connected. If somebody plants something in their garden (for instance, I share a bedroom with an ivy plant of a different species) then they might be less likely to notice it somewhere it does not belong because  to them, it is associated with normalcy. If their plants start spreading into the woods, then, they might not be able to notice this is happening until someone else tells them about it.

This is just a theory, but my experience of just noticing the vines today was strange and I'm not sure how to describe it. I might have just taken its existence for granted, but I still experienced a couple seconds of internal dialogue.
"Did somebody just plant this ivy?"
"How did that spread so quickly?"
"Has this always been here?"
"I think it's always been here."
"Why did I think it was new?" 



rachelr's picture


I love how you connected both things you saw in the woods and science fiction- I hadn't thought about the connection between ecology and scifi before we did the Le Guin reading in class (maybe because I don't read a lot of scifi). The "device created to hide things in plain sight" makes so much sense. Sometimes I think we forget to be in awe of what is around us because it becomes a background that we are so used to, and the cyclic turns of nature become the norm. Sometimes it is hard for us to appreciate what we have until it is lost, until we suddenly notice its absence. This could be why we are so slow to take action with climate change, because we cannot fathom life in any other way. And I would perhaps be left here with little hope, but you prove, by learning something and recognizing it, that maybe we can learn to envision a different life (with a little help from science fiction).