Pachyella Clypyata? I examined the brown, slimy fungus that had spread itself over this tree branch. I thought back to the night before when I made up a creative way to remember the Latin name for what we called “moose boogers.” I quickly scrawled the name down and moved on to the next species. While still avoiding the decidedly tricky deciduous twigs, I made my way toward the more friendly Conifer samples taped along the white board. I dragged my fingers across the needles of the Yew twig which instantly sparked the memory of when I was first acquainted with this species. It was the first week of our semester. Grace Schlesinger and I took it upon ourselves to keep up with the species identifications so that we would never be overwhelmed by them. I will always remember the Yew, not because of its distinct physical characteristics, but because of how we used it in the popular dance to Soulja Boy’s “Crank That.” We would sing the song and hold the Yew twig high in the air each time Soulja Boy says “you,” which, for those of you are familiar with the song know, is quite frequent. When recalling this comical memory, I actually giggled out loud. And while taking a test! It began to occur to me how lucky I am.
In “Natural History of the Maine Coast,” the science class that every MCS student takes, we spend almost as much time outside the classroom as in it. We learn the characteristics of species in the field, not from a textbook. We are asked what we notice, not told what we are supposed to notice. In the midst of our first species exam, I was beginning to appreciate this process more and more. As I moved from sample to sample, I was reminded of countless memories of joking with friends, observations from science field trips, and of my own adventures on Chewonki Neck. In an increasingly technological world, first-hand learning experiences are invaluable. Here, at MCS, we are forming relationships with each and every species we learn; relationships that will never be forgotten.
-Tati Piskula, Brookline, MA