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marian.bechtel's picture

In order of where I felt happieset to where I felt least happy: Morris Woods, Mineralogy Lab, English House, Dalton, Campus Center parking lot.

I was happiest in Morris Woods because everything felt so calm and peaceful and lovely, and I was completely alone. I tried to walk softly, trying not to disturb the beautiful quiet, saw some deer in the distance, touched all the trees I passed, and it was so easy to clear my head and get lost in the moment. I've always felt incredibly comfortable, happy, & at home out in nature by myself (which after our readings last week I now realize might be a privilege of my whiteness). I put the mineralogy lab second because although it's indoors and somewhat dark and dirty with no life inside, the room is rich in memories for me, most of which aren't even my own. I do spend a lot of time in there on my own, working on weekends, looking at hand samples, looking through the mineral cases. I loved touching and smelling all of the old, decrepit mineralogy & petrology books on the shelf & the rock samples on the tables. My parents both studied geology here at Bryn Mawr, so sometimes in places like the mineralogy lab, even though I have no idea whether my parents spent much time in these rooms or not, I imagine them at my age studying the same things I am, having big dreams, falling in love, etc. and it makes me feel happy and warm. I put English House next because it is another place I've spent a lot of time and learned so much in (now that I think about it I don't think I've ever taken a class in English House that I didn't enjoy). It also just feels like a place with a lot of history and knowledge and that makes me happy. The Dalton staircase was next because it was a pretty neutral place for me - I didn't feel happy or uncomfortable or anything. It was nice to actually just sit and look at the architecture and view the campus, but my mind easily wandered while I sat there. Last was the campus center parking lot - I felt super uncomfortable standing still there (though not unhappy necessarily), and I don't know why.

In order of where plants feel happiest to where plants feel least happy: Morris Woods, English House, Campus Center parking lot, Dalton, Mineralogy Lab.

The reasons I ranked the places plants feel happiest the way I did was mostly due to which places had actual plants and nature around them and which had sunshine conducive to potentially growing plants. Morris Woods of course has the most plants present and the most potential, English House is sunny and nice, the Campus Center parking lot, though mostly pavement and not much greenery is still outside, the Dalton staircase has large sunny windows to let in light for plants, and the Mineralogy Lab is dark and dusty and has no plants at all in it and probably wouldn't be a good place for plants.

I think a huge factor of happiness in these places for both plants and myself was liveliness, light, and lack of (other) humans. I put Morris Woods first for both plants and myself because I do feel most happy and peaceful when I'm outdoors in settings filled with nature and life, and I often enjoy these places most when I'm alone (or with very specific people who feel the same way as me and also enjoy exploring in comfortable silence together). Also by "light," I mean places where there is no roof or windows or walls - I actually enjoy being alone outdoors in wooded areas even at night (sometimes I go exploring in the woods behind Batten House late at night when I want to relieve stress).

I think it's very interesting what differences there are, however, between plants and myself. I find happiness in intangible things that exist within some of these places - namely memories, history, knowledge and smells. Those are all things plants do not remember or experience and have no physical or concrete significant or benefit for plants, but for me they hold such significance and can transform even the darkest, dullest room into a lively well of memories, warm feelings, and happiness. Perhaps if I were to make these comparisons with non-human animals instead, some of these intangible qualities would hold more significance for those animals that place importance on smells and can hold memories connected to deep emotions.