Every week since the beginning of the semester, we have been going out on either Tuesday or Thursday afternoon to observe the natural world around us. This week we went on our last science field trip. We all met on the bridge in front of the Allen center, decked out in neon orange hats and vests ready for an adventure. We walked off the bridge and followed a path into our very own forest; this was the fourth week that we have had field trip on the Neck. I have loved having them here in our own backyard; it has allowed me to explore the Neck and learn more about it than I would have had we continued to venture off campus. We walked on the path for about ten minutes and then we turned and went into a shaded part of the woods. We all sat down in a big circle and Peter whipped out a book: story time. Peter read us an introduction to a novel about tracking animals. The passage was a very detailed description of a man finding little bird footprints in a fresh plot of snow outside the grocery store near his house. As Peter read the details of this man’s tracking, our ears were also being filled with the sounds of red squirrels, black-capped chickadees, and other familiar forest animals. When Peter finished reading both he and Jenn talked to us about the task that lay ahead. We were going to do something different; a common theme in our Chewonki life. We were told we were going to make event maps. These maps would trace what we saw, heard, felt, smelled, or just anything we wanted, while we explored the west side of Blueberry Hill. Jen told us that we should try and use this time as a way to connect with the natural world – to read its stories, to learn lessons from it. It was very different from any field trip we had had, but we loved it. We all went our separate ways and tried to find animal signs and identify the species around us. It was so quiet in the forest that day because everyone was truly observing. I climbed up the hill a little and found a rock to sit on. The day was coming to a close, and with it something even more special. As I look ahead to next week and Thanksgiving at home, I will remember lying on that west-facing rock and feeling the gentle rays wash over me while enjoying the last minutes of the day and of our final field trip.
-Rachel Ryan, New York, NY