This morning we made pancakes, but didn’t have eggs because they froze in the refrigerator. After breakfast, we had an orientation from Jeff the station manager. He told us about the history of the reserve, and discussed some of the projects which have been going on here, from science to art. I liked the music! Afterwards, we worked on the group project. We are testing hypotheses about biodiversity among three habitats, and to do so we placed colored bowls filled with soapy water to catch insects. Our favorite habitat above all is the fen, which is a giant, spongy sphagnum bog with carnivorous plants. To get there, we had to climb over fallen logs in the forest, over and over again. In fact, we set up one of our sample transects in the forest as well! We got back and had lunch before spending two hours of quiet solitary time in nature to observe the life around us. After dinner, we talked about our observations with the councilors to develop individual projects, which we’ll start tomorrow. We almost forgot! Before our observation time, we visited the fish house, which is a barn with a glass wall across from fish so they can be seen at eye level. Our down time was really enjoyable. I Dutch braided my hair and it looks great!
Impressions from our observation time, by RK.
The first thing you hear is the silence. Your brain is not open to the sounds yet. As you relax, the gurgling stream forces its way into your thoughts. You look out over the water as it flows over the logs. You are astounded by the amount of water constantly passing by. Suddenly, a wind picks up. You hear it rushing through the trees, moving the grass, and caressing your ear. As you continue to listen, bird calls find their way through the constant noise of the wind and water. A jay calls from the trees across the creek, and the sound is echoed farther away.
As you look out in front of you, you see the grass waving in the wind. Its tips catch the light but the bottoms of the blades are buried in shadow. Shadow blades can be seen on every piece of grass, yet no leaf is left untouched by the light. You look onto the stream and see the ripples left by the underwater currents, and the bubble patches swiftly passing you. Looking behind you, you see dense trees reaching up into the sky, each branch and needle individually reaching for the light.
Now you begin to look closer. Holes and tunnels made by beetles in the logs lying across the stream catch your eye. An ant and its shadow crawl across the top of the log. Smaller ants crawl in the opposite direction. To your left is a lupine with white petals. Purple infuses the pale flowers, stronger at the edges and veins. The sun shines through the petals that are already open. At the top, flowers tightly shut wait for the right time to reveal their beauty Right next to your knee grows a plant, lying the same way as the grass. You reach out to touch it, and its soft trichomes meet your fingers. Along the central vein of the leaves, insects have eaten holes big enough to put your finger through. Through the grass in front of you, yellow inflorescences reach up taller than the grass towards the sun, looking like little suns themselves. A dragonfly floats above the willows that hem the stream, and further off into the distance, jays fly between two trees. Fluffy white clouds make them look like black silhouettes. Now you can hear many birds; woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, bluebirds, and birds you cannot identify. Your ears and brain are open, and you are ready to let nature in.
MK, RK, AG