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In Matters Vegetable, Animal, and Mineral

krysg's picture

Personal Rankings:

  1. Morris Woods
  2. The glass stair in Dalton Hall
  3. Campus center parking lot
  4. English House I
  5. Room 20, Park Science Building (Lab Room)

The reasons behind my personal rankings had a lot to do with percieved openness of the space, quite simply. I was most comfortable in Morris Woods because of this basis, but there were other factors that earned the "woods" my number one happiest place on Bryn Mawr's campus. Other influences on my decision were the relative secludedness of Morris Woods, accompanied by the look of the light through the tree branches (because the sun actually decided to come out and humour me!) and the sound of the cicadas. Natural rythms are a big comfort to me. The woods are a sound barrier as well: although Old Gulf Rd. is quite near to English House and Morris Woods, the tall trees and foliage block out any sounds of cars or near-by senior students talking about their English theses. The cicadas and grasshoppers fill your ears instead, providing steady acoustics that are reminiscent of womb-static, I'd imagine, a comforting all-encompassing sound, much like that of the ocean or a rushing stream (or the wind blowing through pine trees, another of my favourites). The glass stair in Dalton puts me at ease for much of the same reasons: although one is in an enclosed space, the glass makes it feel as though you're outside but elevated some how-- you gain perspective on those around you, thus adding to a secluded feel. There is a lot of light, and it's a quiet space. Typically (as was my problem in Park), one can hear the buzzing of electricity through the light fixtures, which to me is an unnatural sound that is easy to focus on, but instead of comforting, it irritates immensely (which is why Park Science is at the bottom of my list-- coupled with the fact that it's a maze I can easily get lost in, and it's a dark, creepy building with a lot of man-made models or exhibits, uncannily mocking and fetishizing the natural)--like nails scraping against a chalkboard. However, this is not the case in Dalton because of how much natural light is let in through the glass. The Campus Center parking lot is third on my list because it's an open space; while it is mostly concrete, it can be secluded and inviting. It also has a higher ranking than Park Science and English House I because it's more toward the center of campus, it's accessable, you can run into people, it was more fun to walk and wander here than it was to walk down to Park Science. Finally, I ranked English House I so low on the list not because I don't love English House, but because it's a small room, with little light and few windows. For me, the temperature is too regulated, and it's somehow never a place that I linger; and the ability to linger in a place (comfortably) definitely influences my happiness in a place-- but English House I is a place of comings and goings, of people and thoughts and papers and professors, a place where happiness passes through, but not a place in which happiness sprouts and lingers.

Plant Rankings:

  1. Morris Woods
  2. Glass stair in Dalton Hall
  3. Campus Center parking lot
  4. English House I
  5. Room 20, Park Science (Lab Room)

To me, plants need much of the same things as I do: they need sunlight, they need open space away from humans which trample them, they need room to let their roots spread, they need good soil, they need water. Honestly, in ranking which places plants would be most comfortable, I spent a while debating whether plants would be most happy in the woods or in Dalton, if only because the tree canopy disallows some plants to get sunlight, but I finally settled on Morris Woods being the #1 happiest place for plants because of the fact that there's an option of what plants can survive there. Trees, yes, which block the sunlight, but plants which can live off less sun then inhabit the lower layers of the forest, creating a perfectly balanced ecosystem. In no other place on campus is this occurance allowed. Dalton has sunlight but could the building be too cold for plants? Would that then make the campus center parking lot number two on my list? But what about the concrete nature of the parking lot? Surely not many plants can grow there without being manicured, and furthermore, pulled each season to be replaced with new flowers next season. And English House I is too small and dark for plants to be happy, same with the Park Science lab (though not small, sterile). The fact that in all other places but the Morris Woods, in order for there to be plant growth there needs to be human interference-- that fact alone made all options seem inadequate.

Plants and humans do need similar care; they are comfortable in climates that are regulated for them or climates to which their systems have regulated. They need water, they need sunlight. One difference between humans and plants in places they're comfortable is obvious-- although I suggested above that I metaphorically need soil from which to grow, plants -actually- need nutritious soil to grow; how is a plant to gain that under concrete?

As for whether or not my answers change for non-human animals, it really depends on the animal. A house cat may be fine at Bryn Mawr in any of these places. Put a wolf down in English House I and I think there may be a problem. So it depends.