To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Year 3: Part 6: Post 4: Keeping Notes

The trees are just past peak color, now. Another good, stiff wind should blow most of them down, and already some of the branches are bare, or nearly so. The avenue of red maples along the road in front of the Dining Hall has become an almost painfully bright yellow tunnel. They are all exactly the same--Charlie says they are genetically identical clones, bought from some landscaper by the previous land owner. The avenue of sugar maples along the main entrance (which Charlie has allowed to spread into a miniature woodland) is more diverse and has gone various shades of red and orange. I can sit among either, or up in my "spot" in the woods, and listen to the leaves falling around me like a continuous, dry rain.

As I said, Charlie has me keeping a journal of my time outside. And yes, I am using the blank journal he gave me for my birthday. I hand it in to him once a week and he returns it a day or two later, marked up with comments and questions or new mini-assignments. Sometimes these make me smile--I drew a picture of the site the other day, in pencil, and he wrote "Nice!" in the margin of the next page, with an arrow pointing towards the picture. Sometimes they frustrate me, as when they seem to contradict--the same week yielded "more world, less Daniel" and "where are you in all of this?". They were written on different pages in different colors of ink, so he probably wrote the comments on different days.

Recently, he appropriated an entire page, with a big title in red pen, underlined three times, and a series of asterisk-pointed items:

* Identify all woody plants within site (due end of month)
*Identify principle soil type within site (due end of month)
* Each week, list all animal behavior observed, incl. sound
*Each week, list all plant phenology markers (sprouting, etc.)
* Note fungi
Common + Latin names, spelled correctly, required

Phenology means the study of when things happen, like when different species sprout, flower, etc. ("phrenology" is completely different!). So, basically he wants me to pay attention to the same things on my plot that he's been teaching me to attend to on campus--which makes sense. I about died when I saw the list, as it looks like a huge about of work, but actually my "spot" isn't very big. There are only three species of trees, plus maybe five shrub species (I haven't counted them yet). And, realistically, I'd do most of this anyway, just maybe not every week and I wouldn't necessarily write everything down.

I still don't know what Charlie is up to, but at least he's consistent, and it's becoming clearer to me that everything else we've done together was training for this.

It's not much warmer sleeping inside than out, these days, as we haven't lit the stoves in the Mansion, yet. We won't, probably, until at least sometime in November. Not that it ever drops below freezing inside, but the days of sleeping in long underwear under several layers of hand-made wool blankets and quilts has definitely begun.

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