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Frequency, or Events in a Twenty-Five Minute Span of Time on a Thursday Afternoon

Abby Sarah's picture


The purpose of this observational exercise was to determine the frequency of various types of action observed from a specific location on Bryn Mawr’s campus. The location used was the Sunken Garden during a twenty-five minute block of time on a Thursday afternoon.

Methods and Materials

The action was classified according to walkers and joggers, couples passing, vehicles passing, large gusts of wind, trains, sunbreaks and falling branches. To record these occurrences the observer kept a pen and paper upon which she made two columns and recorded the number of each of these events.


Walkers and Joggers*:  9

Couples†: 3

Vehicles‡: 9

Large gusts of wind§: 6

Trains‖: 2

Sunbreaks¶: 5

Falling branches: 1

*any form of running, whether intentional or because one appeared late

†two individuals walking or jogging together

‡including school bus, excluding bicycles

§characterized as strong enough to blow the observer’s hair into her face

heard, not seen

¶characterized as sunlight warm enough to be felt against the observer’s skin


The most common action was people passing by, whether individually or in groups, as the total number of occurrences of this nature was at 25% more than the next lowest occurrences, which were vehicles. Sunbreaks and wind gusts were almost equal to each other, demonstrating a rapidly altering weather pattern over the twenty-five minute period. Falling branches were the rarest, at only one occurrence.

Most notably, the limitations of this exercise were quite apparent, as it suffered from limitations of human perception and the tendency for the observer to become distracted 

Sorry, for the observer to become distracted by the


Snap and whine of caution tape in the trees

How slow does moss grow

Grow slow



Snow was here just last week

No but moss is somewhere between

The velocity of continents and that leaf.


Leaving except for the warm weight of change

This is between seasons, time, me, it, us

Or perhaps just outside.


*Conclusions do not show the warm blanket of humidity against bare skin, the patchwork quilt of sun spots against the ground, the bog of mud and dead grass that tried to eat the observer’s boot on the way there, or her musings on the instability of biomes or every time I wanted to say in a truly corny accent “there’s a storm coming” or the simple joy at seeing a friend’s face walking past, and putting aside the task of quantifying, understanding, trying to imagine an egalitarian story told equally by the grass, trees, squirrels, me, the trash, the Haffner construction worker smoking, the half-finished building, the dramatic sky, every water molecule comprising each inch cubed of the eighty percent humidity, because maybe I we all are foolish to think we can somehow express all or any of it. 


tajiboye's picture

This is so cool. Seems weird, but practical. I wonder if I do/notice this subconsciously at all.