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The Wide World Is So Much Smaller Than I Thought

Elizabeth's picture

I went on a geological and biological tour of campus with Susan and Maddie from our class and Max and Sarah S from English 313. We spent about the recommended times on everything we were supposed to (a half an hour to get to know each other and then forty-five minutes for each tour), but we didn't split it up so exactly, we talked about things as they became relevant to the environment we were in, which I thought worked out pretty well. We had room to discuss what we needed to and inform each other, but we were also able to have more of a conversation, and bring things back up if we had forgotten to say them earlier, or wanted to expand on them a little more.

We spent a lot of the biological tour in Morris Woods and spent other parts of the tour talking a lot about trees and invasive plants. There were two different plants from the original landscaping of English House (when it was a private residence) that had crept into the woods, completely covering the ground in some places, and winding up tulip trees (their branches are really high up, so ivy likes them), invading the natural landscape. That was one of the most surprising parts of the biological tour: the human impact. The only other time I went into Morris Woods, I didn't go in very far. This time, we really explored the woods, and they seemed a lot smaller than they did to me the first time I looked into them. I could see from one edge of the forest to the other, seeing houses and Bryn Mawr's campus completely surrounding it. I thought that the woods would be a much more natural place, but the human impact was everywhere, from the invasive plants (there were more than just two--the forest is full of non-native plants that are kicking out native species), to the smallness of the forest, to the man-made structures all within the woods.

But the other really surprising thing to me about the biological tour was how easily Max and Sarah identified plants. They really knew the plants! Impressively, they ripped a few leaves in half, smelled them, and proclaimed the name of the tree.

I'm really disappointed that the campus, even the woods, a place that I expected to be incredibly natural, has such a human impact. But now I know more about Bryn Mawr's biology, so there is a very small bright side. I might even explore Morris Woods again soon!