Maddie Nature Notes
On the morning of November 18, Susan, Elizabeth, Max, Sarah and I set out boldly to teach each other a little bit about the botany and geology of the campus...
Well... Maybe it was more of a saunter...
Either way, it was a very enjoyable, as well as informative walk. We started out in front of Erdman, began walking towards Taylor, but decided to detour back to Max's site sit outside of Erdman instead. There we talked about the invasive English ivy, and other invase plants. We defined weeds as something that doesn't belong and won't leave. We then spent some time comparing our two classes. We talked a little bit about the writing expectations and the reading we had been doing. Since we were all in the ecofeminism unit at the time we discussed how feelings played into class discussions, and how nice it was to have feelings validated as positive contributions to the discussion, rather than brushed aside as inconsequential.
After that we (Susan, Elizabeth, and myself) led Sarah and Max to Taylor to identify the one of the two main types of rocks that the majority of Bryn Mawr's buildings are made out of. We used the handouts provided by Maria Louisa Crawford to identify the types of rock Bryn Mawr was situated upon. We discussed what happened to the old quarries after the rock had been removed; some turn into lakes, some turn into dumps.
What a weekend. Saturday I spent a very full, very incredible 12 hours in New York City. I had been once before with my parents doing all the touristy stuff people do, but this Saturday I went with my friend Kara who knew all the secret, wonderful details of the city. While we were there we visited one of my best friends from high school, Jim, who goes to the Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn. I think we were both a little taken back to see each other in such an urban setting, so different from the suburban/rural setting of Lawrence, Kansas. We spent lunch reminiscing (read: gossiping) about old friends and a dearly loved town that felt worlds away. Jim reminded me about everything I love about home and my hometown. After having that conversation sitting on the moon bench right now makes me think about everything I love about good old Lawrence, KS. Fall looks the same in both places, squirrels race in the treetops above and the forrest floor below. I can see the occasional person traversing the green, and leaves fall like rain. I love fall, I love home, and I love Bryn Mawr. The moon bench really made me think of home today in all the best ways possible. Even though there weren't many people out I could feel the community around me buzzing. I feel the same way sitting in a park in Lawrence as I do sitting on the moon bench. What a weekend.
Today the moon bench and Perry House collided. You all can very well see from the time stamp on this post that it is waaaay past the deadline, but tonight I shall blame the event held in the campus center this evening with "The Big Cheeses." Or otherwise known as the administrative heads of Bryn Mawr. This event was a great opportunity to get straightforward answers to questions that had been circulating among the students. One of the most prominent topics was the subject and status of Perry House. The administration was looking at it purely from the perspective of money. The future of Perry House as a residence was being called into question due to the staggering amount needed to renovate it and bring it up to code. The students had to enlighten the administration to the fact that Perry House is so much more than a building. It is a cultural and social center for Bryn Mawr's African American students, and while from a budgetary point of view the renovations may seem unnecissary Perry House's cultural significance must be taken into account when planning for its future.
All that aside, I can't help but focus on the issue of the money needed to renovate Perry House and where it will come from. I believe wholeheartedly that it must be maintained, and I think that the solution could be found if other areas of the budget were reviewed.
While I was sitting on the moon bench today, I felt overjoyed while looking at the world around me. One of my favorite things about Bryn Mawr (among many) is that it truly does not care what your gender, race, religous affiliation, or sexual orientation is. Looking at the women and men bundled up in their fall gear walk by me either alone, in pairs, or in packs, this was especially apparent. There was no sexism or racism, there was just people drawn together by the common pursuit of knowledge interacting regardless of superficial details like the color of one's skin. This is what I notice at Bryn Mawr every single day, and it was wonderful to enjoy it at a distance. This is the first time in a while that I have felt full satisfied by my experience at the moon bench, I am actually looking forward to next week.
Last night while I was waiting out the most intense part of Hurricane Sandy (thus far) with my fellow dormmates our discussions led us down many paths, but inevitably towards the hurricane. And even more specifically to the question of, "why does it seem like the most destructive hurricanes have female names?" The friendly discussion turned to anger and could be summed up in one of Bryn Mawr's favorite sayings, "Death to the Patriarchy!" So I had the intention today of starting my post as a rant that would take a similar route of the discussion I had last night, that is, talking about the seemingly sexist nature of the hurricane naming system. However, I was proved wrong. Upon further investigation and according to Time.com (http://nation.time.com/2012/08/24/the-most-destructive-u-s-hurricanes-of-all-time/) the most destructive US hurricanes seem to be fairly evenly named. The list cited hurricanes Ike, Floyd, Hugo, Charley, Ivan and Andrew as the most destructive hurricanes with masculine names and hurricanes Opal, Jeanne, Frances, Camille, Besty, Agnes, Rita, Katrina, and Wilma. According to this list, 6 out of the 15 most destructive hurricanes have masculine names, or 40%. Feminine named hurricanes make up the other 60%. While these numbers are skewed towards the feminine named hurricanes it still does not show the huge gap that I was anticipating. Add Sandy to that list and the ratio is more like 37.5% male and 62.5% female, which widens the gap, but by much.
My thoughts are fractured and fracturing. My visit to the moon bench (where I will remain for the rest of the semester) wasn't memorable, to say the least. While I was sitting there I was aware that there was a storm brewing somewhere off the coast, and it seemed appropriate. The weather is cold and nasty, it has transformed my mood which was initially one of lightheartedness into one reflective of the storm, dark and gloomy. Sarah C's post stands out to me because she has found "a gateway to Mother Earth herself." I would love to visit the duck pond, maybe we could go as a class? I feel like I need to reconnect to the Earth and nature, even while I was sitting outside in the midst of it I did not feel connected to it. I felt very distracted, and I think my gameplan for next week will be to try and continue to find ways to connect with the Earth. Rather than change my spot on campus I would like to try and change my perspective or mindset when visiting my spot and see how this changes it.
Regretably, I have missed the deadline for this post by not one, not two, but five days. With all the hustle and bustle of going home for break and the preparation that entails this fell through the cracks. It fell way, way, way through the cracks. I am extremely sorry that I am so late.
The moon bench will never feel the same having been to Harrinton House. I find myself questioning everything around me. Where did these trees come from? What part of the world are they native to? The trees I found beautiful for weeks before now seem eerily out of place. I wonder what this land looked like before the white settlers began to alter it.
Before going to Harrinton house everything about Bryn Mawr all seemed to be in perfect harmony with itself. Bryn Mawr just seemed to belong; it seemed perfect for the land on which it is situated. But now I can't help but question all of it. I still find Bryn Mawr extraordinarily beautiful, but having been to Harrinton House and learning about the evolution of the land I view Bryn Mawr in a different light. I wonder what it looked like before it became Bryn Mawr College. Were there still squirrels? What kind of flowers were here?
Regardless, Bryn Mawr is here. And it belongs. And we belong here. We may not have started here, but a lot of things on the Bryn Mawr campus didn't start here, and although they may have started as foreigners, the campus wouldn't be the same without them.
I can hear every raindrop fall with astounding clarity. The sun manages to creep it's way under my heavy eyelids. It is cold and it is wet and I am tired. The stone bench and the weather have been conspiring against me.
In Russia the babushkas used to yell at me for sitting on stone surfaces. They said it would make me infertile. They told me the cold from the stone would travel up my abdomen and make my uterus cold; the hard surface wouldn't help either. However, as soon as I sat on my jacket or my scarf it was completely fine, like my sheer scarf was enough to protect my fertility. I always thought this was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. How could an entire country believe something so absurd? In retrospect it makes sense. It is so hard to be a mom in Russia, women want to give themselves as good of a chance as possible, even if seems ridiculous to someone else.
But here I am, sitting on a cold, stone surface and thinking about the sweet, terrifying babushkas who were always looking out for me. I think next time I visit the moon bench I will bring a scarf in honor of the countless babushkas who took the greatest pleasure in scolding me. They would cringe at me now, but I think they will be very proud of me next week when I have a scarf to save my uterus.
This week I decided to approach my spot on the campus in a new way. I wanted to do an illustrated representation of the moon bench, and look at it from a different perspective. Usually when I sit in the moon bench I look down senior row, it is a beautiful view but it is not the only view. Today I sat facing the moon bench and it gave me a different feel for the space. I noticed the "mini forest" behind the bench, and after I did my sketch and added color, I realized how ugly it is compared to the beautiful green, gold, and brown colors that surround it. Looking at the moon bench this way gave me a new appreciation for it. It provides a wonderful view of the campus, but the bench itself is not so beautiful. Even the golden glow cast by the sun did nothing to enhance the bench, it remained cold, and gray, and stone. The life aroud it however lit up, and interacting with the wind and the sun. Overall, I enjoy sitting on the moonbench to appreciate the surrounding nature, but the bench appears to me to be distinctly out of place among the beauty that surrounds it. I wonder what it will look like in the winter, will the enviornment take on similar qualities of the bench?