Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Miller Memorial Bench in the Rain (Observation #2)

r.graham.barrett's picture

Planning out when I was to head over to my observation spot for the second observational time period, I had a vague sense that it wouldn’t be exactly like what I experienced during my observational period but relatively close. This notion though was thrown out the window when I finally had the time to walk out to the Miller memorial bench in overcast conditions, and it started to drizzle as I sat down on the bench. Besides the current drizzle, the bench and its surroundings had clearly been affected by precipitation much earlier, as the bench was completely soaked and the pine needles in the surrounding trees had droplets of rain pooling at their tips. As this observational period was following our class on Wednesday, I was almost immediately thinking back to the class’ discussion on whether we made the right call retreating into the class room or not, and as I was in similar circumstances, I was in a similar jam. Ultimately, I decided to risk the chance into the drizzle becoming more of a steady downpour and stay for the remainder of my chosen time frame and not come back later. Sticking by this decision though, required changing my positioning on the bench from the first observation period, so that I wouldn’t become miserable over the course of my observing (i.e. moving to the other side of the bench where water wasn’t pooling on the seat).  As the hour progressed, instead of looking for more signs of autumn or watching the Nature Trail like I wanted to use the spot for originally, the fact that it was raining slightly, I was constantly fixated on the fact that it was raining and how it was affecting everything around me. Despite the fact that it was only a light drizzle, the isolation of my spot was increased significantly, with no one using the nature trail or the Pinetum’s  path except for a solitary group of runners who didn’t stay long. Although actual people were not present, the sounds of people’s activities were still present, and if anything, the rain actually increased the noise of the cars driving on the roads nearby.  In terms of being affected by the weather conditions, the more natural elements of the bench’s surroundings were almost completely unaffected. Although the sounds I noticed before (such as insects humming and bird calls) sounded more diminished, they were still present and in many ways overcame the sound of the rain hitting the ground and the benches. Unlike the Nature Trail users, and even the class on Wednesday, the prospect that the drops that were falling might increase significantly did not phase the squirrels in the Pinetum’s field at all as they scurried about looking for acorns. The birds too were unaffected, as the occasional one would fly by overhead, and more were heard chirping from the trees, as unlike humans, they are much able to use the trees much better for withstanding the rain than a human like myself could have. All in all, as I finally left the bench long after the drizzle finally stopped, weathering the elements ultimately ended up providing interesting insight into how even the bare minimum of precipitation affects a large natural area like the area surrounding the bench (albeit the seat of my pants had to get soaked in order to experience this)