I opened this class with a Thoreauvian ramble that was in the form of a rhymed poem in iambic pentameter. In my final site sit I hope to show the influence of our botanical ramble and blind field shuttle, and to respond to Anne’s “push.”
To the left sun
and to all else the push push push of the wind
leaving shadows dancing
true blue sky and deadened brown leaves.
How long in this place? is every day a new breath of life
disturbed by the powdering of leaves into confetti and a sharp cold blade leveling the hibernating
life of plants.
i trespass in my presence
hearing breathing tasting seeing
stationary but ready to move.
reflection of life as now but future too
Ending only to begin again anew.
In thinking about my site sit today I had a plan: I know there were some plants, some bushes at the base of the beech tree behind my bench. I knew that when I had collected leaves they hadn’t all been the same leaves. What could I find from Morris Woods at my site?
Surprisingly little. Or perhaps not so surprisingly. Morris Woods was once cultivated, a farmland; but since it has been left to its own devices, native trees, shrubs, and plants taking root while slowly but surely non-native plants creep up and across the landscape from the direction of English House. My site is manicured. The oak trees of senior row were planted and aligned, spaced apart. From the pairing of Hurricane Sandy with a sudden drop in temperature the leaves from the trees dropped, and sometime since last week the groundskeepers have not only cleared the leaves, leaving the ground bare save for some patchy grass on death’s doorstep, but also cleared of the plant life that, when I began my site sit, were densely packed around the base of the beech tree. No longer there, I can approach its root system, and its trunk that bears a plaque. A human mark on this easily scarred tree. Everything feels so bare. Everything I like to look at has been cleared. The evidence of the loss of life has been stripped away, and the emptiness of my site in comparison to the (mostly) uncleared and dense Morris Woods makes me feel bare. I am no longer sitting amongst things, but rather against them and alone.
After several weeks of waking up at 7am only to find it darker than I would like for my site (or "sight") sit, today revealed the effects of falling back last weekend. The difference in light, combined with our recent LaDuke readings, made me think back to a storytelling gathering I went to at the United Indians Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Seattle…
How Raven Brought Light to the World
Raven was a shapeshifter. Like magic he could turn himself into a man from a bird and back again. Long ago there was a selfish Chief who lived alone with his daughter. The Chief was the guardian of all the light in the world, but loved only his daughter and so kept all of the light in the world hidden away.
Now Raven was very tired of always bumping into things and seeing all the people on the Earth cold, so he turned himself into a white bird and so pleased the Chief’s daughter that he was invited into the longhouse. When Raven saw all of the light inside of the Chief’s longhouse he stole the light and flew through the smoke hole into the sky. He hung the sun high up in the sky. It was so bright that he could fly far far away, across from the sun, and hang up the moon and scatter the stars in the sky. Raven still had fire left, so he flew back down to Earth with the stick of fire in his beak. When he got closer to the Earth he dropped the burning stick on the rocks for the people there. That is why now when you strike two stones together, fire comes out.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy it was a feeling of difference that struck me at my site, rather than remarkable visual changes. I was recently reading Derrida's thoghts on the difference that a letter (specifically "a" between difference and différance) can make; that was my inspiration for this account of my morning...
Today I collected leaves. Now I have autumn in my room.
Most adventurous site sit. Didn't stay in one place. Trees around me aren't very diverse, I wanted more different leaves. You can't always get what you want.
In our representations of this campus, our images were starkly bare of humans. Usually from my spot near the end of senior row I can watch a trickle of people either making the trek up-campus from Brecon or down-campus to the gym or Park.
Perhaps the week before break at 7am was not the best time for this site-sit experiment, but as ekthorp said when she held onto her decision to have class outside, I wanted to stick to my plan.
So here is a view of human activity from my site-sit. People were staying on the sidewalks, following the man-made paths and giving me what felt like a distant vantage point. My photo quality is testament to that, although it works to my advantage for maintaining the anonymity of my subjects.
The squirrels and I were in cahoots here; they, unconcerned with me and my stillness on the bench, kept their distance from the people passing by, just as I did. Watching.
At 7:43am the lampposts all blinked off in unison and I noticed that the foggy mist had lifted considerably.
I felt voyeuristic at first, but then realized that although these people were not looking at me, they could be. I wasn’t hidden, peering out at them; they just weren't looking.
I have to say that I got bored with the people. They were just going. The squirrels were doing. Although I don’t know how many people would want to watch the trees, the bench, the grass, and me just being.
Here is what I focused on (sound, sight, thoughts) this damp, misty morning. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." Writing or speaking a word too many times can make it look or sound strange- wrong. What is in a name?
Week 2: observations
There are some still green
While others have turned yellow
Leaves laying grounded.
The grey covers blue
No light has yet broken through
Morning’s clouded sky.
Wood gently faded
Here sitting amid the trees
Motionless wood bench.
With a nut in mouth
When still, they come next to me
The scampering squirrels.
High boughs releasing
Sharp thud and bounce on the ground
Acorns are falling.
Being still at first
Cool gusts visit, then they are gone
Morning wind blowing.
Silent and yet not
Very few cicadas or birds
Week One: obervations
Faint outlines of soaring birds through the foliage above
The off-and-on sound of chirping cicadas
A cool breeze whips up an already cool morning
Sheets of light grey clouds move the rain of yesterday away, revealing a pale blue sky
The squirrel at the base of the tree behind me does not seem happy to have a guest
The grass, trees, bushes are green with only the faintest hint here and there of a light yellow creeping into the leaves
I see Anne walking to the gym, a few voices break my musings as they make the trip to breakfast
People may see me but they seem to pay my presence little mind- I am much more awake of them- I feel miscible
Suddenly a hawk is almost crashing through the tree branches, halting only momentarily on a branch before leaping back off, back into the sky
The sound of a truck, the peripheral view of the Pepsi logo catches my attention to the right
Overall though, the sounds of humanity are muffled here at this “early” hour
Here is the sun, reaching me through the clouds and leaves
The hawk flies back the other way as birds croak the alarm from tree to tree
I am a passive observer but I feel less intrusive than when I was walking
Groundskeepers are here, picking up the downed branches from the rain and wind of last night
The effects of nature are being tidied up, the manicured paths returning from beneath the ruble
The siren of an emergency vehicle is growing fainter