For some reason my project Noah screen shot will not convert over. It just comes up as a bunch of coding and letters.
For my earth day activity I spent the afternoon on Saturday at Green Springs Park. It was lunchtime so I ate a burger and fries from Andy’s in the shelter area. It was calming to eat outside with in peace and quiet of the wind and trees. My usually Saturdays are spent inside my brothers’ house watching TV and taking naps, doing rarely anything outside unless we decided to play basketball or croquet. But sitting outside I realized how cooling and cleansing it felt to just sit in silence with only the occasional bird chirp and car horn to disrupt it.
There was a family with young children arguing as they walked back on the trails. I had just finished eating and was about to leave. One of the children was soaked from the hip down and I figured he had gotten in the creek while they were walking. I figured that was what they were arguing about. It reminded me of how Rob and I had walked around in the water looking for shark teeth as the class yelled at us to return to the shelter. So I returned to the creek side and because I didn’t have any clothes I was willing to get wet observed the water flowing down. I found a spot a little ways down the creek spot that Rob and I had dug out which featured a nice fallen tree bridge. I walked to the middle and sat down over the creek.
I immediately felt at peace. I could feel the cooling air from the cold creek underneath and had the sudden urge to meditate. I laid back across the log and closed my eyes to think. All the stress that I had been holding immediately fell off and I was able to just relax. I think the wilderness has a calming effect to it that I don’t utilize to its full potential. I plan on returning to that fallen tree to distress anytime that I cannot handle it anymore. So I will probably return before exams are over.
To prepare for this Field Note Reflection essay I took field notes in various spots using two different styles of field note recordings during the duration of the class. It was the first time I had taken field notes on my observations because I was used to just taking pictures and using them to look back on later. Since it was over the duration of the entire class that I took field notes of either the Two-Column or Grinnell system I had a lot of time to think about the essay. I did like how it made me choose between the two which was better because I had not wanted to compare them prior to that. But I found Grinnell to be more understandable for me.
My audience while I was writing was the professors because as I went through I continually thought of how I could explain how my mindset towards field note taking has changed since the beginning of the class. I feel though, as if it could also be read by a peer thinking of taking notes with no change of audience focus. Because I break down the importance of taking notes on all senses and how for beginners like myself before this class that can be a struggle. The most challenging part for me was explaining why the Grinnell system was the one I liked better, simply because I wanted to say “just cause.”
I feel if I could write the essay again I would spend less time explaining the difference in the two systems of field note taking and more time explaining why I liked the Grinnell more because the essay is meant for my professors who have no problem distinguishing the two systems. One thing I do not like about my piece is that I feel as if I did not incorporate enough examples from my field notes into the essay. Yes, I mentioned Hebron Rock Colony and the two birds but I feel as if I should have included Grandfather Mountain or more of that sort. And I wished I would have emphasized more on how important all of the senses are for beginners instead of just mentioning that I had had trouble with it once.
By far, the thing I liked most about this essay was it was all what I thought. Not what someone else but this was my time to share my opinion. I was able to just make a simple outline with my ideals and where I wanted to cover each one and then begin drafting. The source that I would say had the most impact on my essay was the Holy Bible. This was largely due to my Christian beliefs being brought up in a Methodists family. I spent two days writing this assignment and two days revising it with the help of some friends.
My audience for this piece was a person interested in the wilderness and how we are and should be treating it. The main risk that I took was starting with a quote from Genesis the first book of the Holy Bible. Mainly it was a risk because evolution is accepted by science and creation is not. So many people may discredit my Manifesto immediately but I felt since it was my piece I was not trying to please people I was just trying to explain my views. That was probably the most difficult to disregard all forms of evolution in my argument and only focus on how the Holy Bible explains it.
What I like best was just that I keep with the biblical views and not the evolutionary all throughout. But what I like worst was that I felt like because I was just typing my ideas down in a continual manor the organization would need improvement. I have always struggled with the flow of the essays I write and I feel that a peer or professor edit will only bring much of that to light. I would like any editors to tell me where I may need to go further in to explaining the meaning of passages in the Holy Bible. I feel as if because I was brought up in a Christian manor my entire life that I may skimp on a few important details that others may need to understand.
The wilderness is ours! Whether you come from a religious background where God placed us on earth or believe that evolution created us you still have to realize that it was there for us to use. From a religious few God created the wilderness for us. From a scientific view the process of evolution was meant to create a being such as us so the wilderness’s purpose was to create us and has now changed to sustaining us. We are the ‘Top Dog’ as some would say in the wilderness. Ok so with all that being said we beg to answer the question, what do we do with it? Should we without a second thought use every bit that we can get our hands on, cutting trees, killing cattle, and drinking the remaining freshwater without a second glance or should we only carefully take as we need. Many humans have wondered this throughout all of time. It all comes down to what you believe you should do but you should first research the various effects your actions can have.
Genesis 2:15 tells us “The LORD God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it (“Genesis”).” This is the second chapter in the first book of the bible and one of his first commands in the Holy Bible to us his humans. He wanted this point in particular to get across to us. Even though we were soon cast out of the Garden of Eden I think it is still Gods intent for us to treat our Earth as we would the garden. Only when we neglect it as God’s creation for us will we cease to care protect and destroy it. We need to take it to heart; the land is ours because he has created it for our use. He tells us to farm it. The definition of farming is “to cultivate or produce a crop on (“Dictionary.com).” So when God commands us to farm the land that he has provided then I think he intends for us to plow, seed, water, and pluck the fields of food that we have made. He also meant to farm the animals. So does God intend for us to eat and farm animals in the mass scale that we do know? My answer is yes. He did intend for our species to us the others for food. But only when it comes to a critical overuse point where extinction should we begin to complete stop eating them. Otherwise I think it is our job to simply make sure our actions on the population of animals we are using is not affecting their species in a detrimental way. As we eat catch fish, we leave others to repopulate the species and as we eat cow, we allow them to reproduce and have offspring for generations to come.
That’s where we have to find that line in between farming it and taking care of it. I believe that when he asks us to take care of it he is asking us to protect the environment for our future children and generations to come so they too can farm and use the land. It will be a fine line in between using and caring for the environment. But he said it is just as much of a responsibility “to take care of it (“Genesis”) as it is to farm it. That is where we are falling short right now. We take more time thinking of how we are going to farm and use the land and only a little time thinking of how we will take care of it. To care for it we need to make a step towards caring for the environment to equal every step we take towards using the environment’s resources. We need to always plan out how our actions will affect the environment. We need to be aware how many plastic bottles of water a year and the effects that will have on the environment. Only recently have we started really urging recycling our different materials such as plastic and paper. But I think God not only wants us to be aware of how we dispose of our plastic bottles but also how we treat the earth he gave us. He wants us to water trees to keep them healthy and tend to the gardens to keep them plentiful and returning every year. He does not want us to only take care of what will benefits us. Taking care of the environment daily can be as easy a taking these six steps; Keep Your Neighborhood Clean, Recycle Cans, Bottles, and Paper, Help Keep the Air Clean, Save Paper, Help Save Water, and Help Save Energy (Infoplease).” So this is how God wants us to treat the land, but I ask you, is it in fact how we are treating the land?
Simple answer is no. The problem is that we see ourselves different from the wilderness. We are not a part of it. It is true in a sense that we are not effected near as much by the wilderness and are by far the most advanced species of animals in our taming of the wilderness but should we let that separate us. We think ‘that the Gulf Oil Spill will not affect our day to day lives so why should we go and help with any part of the clean up and take part in any actions towards preventing another spill?’ So we just sit home and watch others work to better the environment and take the action and maybe just maybe if Sarah McLachlan’s commercial hits us just right then we might send ten or so dollars to an organization that’s helping. If we never actually get involved then we will never realize how much of a problem it really it and how it really does affect us. Maybe not today but down the road a lot of the careless decisions we are making towards the environment are going to haunt our children and their children. Unless we make a change for the better now the future will pay.
We are Americans. Right! A great country almost every restaurant can deliver their food right to your couch so you don’t have to get up. We are a lazy people. If we can get by without doing anything then we will. Too often do we follow that mindset and just watch others try to make a change. We think that these organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, who has one main goal of “environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive (EPA),” is doing just fine on its own but the truth is they are fighting a struggling uphill battle. They do not only need donations but also volunteers to get their mission going full speed. We have gotten stuck in a donate mindset but only when we begin to take part in the mission hands on will we truly see a mass change. So for now we will drive our cars everywhere we need to go, no matter what the distance, instead of biking, running or walking. The problem is our mental distance from the wilderness has increased to what seems too far to affect one another. So if we were to just get involved in the wilderness more often the problems of it would become more evident and we would start to change. The connections could be anything and anywhere through taking a hike in a park, mountain or beach, swimming in a creek or simply playing it the sand but they will make you appreciate the wilderness more. Think of how you were as a child. The day to day interactions you had with the wilderness. You would constantly be climbing a tree, jumping a creek, or staring into a clover patch for the one small mutation of a four-leaf clover. You would observe the animals all throughout and explore the interactions they had with their environment. All this hands on opportunities lead you to take a bigger interest in the environment and care more deeply for it. But as you got older you began to stay indoors on your computers and televisions creating that gap. We as a species cannot forget that today “we are a product of the wilderness (Modsen).” And whether or not we feel that we are separate today we need to appreciate that the wilderness brought us to where we are today and if that appreciation and respect is what it takes you to get active then let it take you.
So that is what I think of how we treat the wilderness but now let’s see how some others think we treat it. Annie Dillard tries to explain the reason for the gap we place between the wilderness and us by calling to a specific instance where she encountered a wild weasel. She said she came to the realization that “the weasel lives in necessity and we live in choice, hating necessity and dying at the last ignobly in its talons. I would like to live as I should, as the weasel lives as he should (Dillard).” We have become a completely separate ideal to the point that we don’t even live in necessity anymore. “We live in choice,” according to her and I think that is true. We have a variety of meals that are pointless nutritionally and we constantly take part in a variety of recreational/spiritual events that have no necessity to our survival. We have become blind to living as an animal would. Dillard speaks of how hard it was to find a small excuse for wilderness near where she lived but the creature there was as wild as any creature because it lived by necessity. So maybe we are looking at it all wrong. Maybe the wilderness is not an entity at all but rather a mindset. We cannot hold wilderness in our hands but we can feel it in our bodies.
We have begun to use the wilderness selfishly in Reed F Noss’s eyes. He claims “are we not somewhat selfish in our love for wilderness, our craving to be alone in places that humble and excite us. That are beautiful, or that challenge us recreationally or spiritually? Does any other species feel this way about wilderness (Noss)?” And it is true; we are very selfish in the few endeavors we take in the wilderness. We love the river and its beauty so we build houses to live on the river and affect the ecosystem drastically because of it. Majority of the rivers in the wilderness have been heavily settled and commercialized by people looking to take part in the rivers environment. Nothing we bring with us as natural to that environment. Everything from sewage runoff to jet skis to gas stations disturbs the natural flow of the environment. He says that we will find any excuse to us the wilderness and later calls us out on being an anthropocentric society in that we think the wilderness revolves around us. He is saying that whether it is recreationally, spiritually or just for the looks we find reasons to be incorporated in the wilderness, which is selfish.
Others such as Aldo Leopold agree that we do not realize how our selfish decisions actually affect the environment. Leopold points to a particular problem we have in saying “One of the most insidious invasions of wilderness is via predator control….. The big-game herds (usually deer or elk) then increase to the point of overbrowsing the range. Hunters must then be encouraged to harvest the surplus, but modern hunters refuse to operate far from a car; hence a road must be built to provide access to the surplus game (Leopold).” This case can happen in many different ways. Even as we attempt to stay out of a wilderness area we decide to eliminate a predator because of its effects on us. And only succeed in having to invade the environment more so by building hunting roads deep into the wilderness we sought to keep out of initially. But it won’t just stop there because we will have to probably build gas stations to provide for the hunters cars and that means tankers will travel the road frequently. And with the gas station come workers and maybe a store or motel to provide the workers with a place to stay and eat and so on. The problems that we create on the wilderness are countless. We need to just let the wilderness handle itself. Leopold also calls on our neglect to think of distant future in his article titled Thinking Like a Mountain where he says “while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaces in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades.” He says a mountain is all knowing because of the time it has been here. Only the mountain can tell what long-long term effect any action small or large will have. Also only the mountain will have to put up with the effects because of the time it takes for some of the effects to happen. This ties into my view of how some of the effects take so long to happen we don’t always seem to care. We think, ‘why should I break my back to save this land when I will never see the benefits/negatives to doing or not doing something?’ We need to take the time to think like a tree and become more aware of our true effects.
In conclusion, it is obvious that we all use the farming aspect of the wilderness but we need to all take more of a part in taking care of the wilderness for years to come. It is true that today we just lay back and occasionally provide organizations with some money thinking we have done our part, but it is our responsibility to take a hand in preserving. We are not doing wrong by using the wilderness for food, paper, water and other necessities. But it is when we begin to over use the wilderness or abuse it for things we want and not need with no care for replacing and caring for the environment. As we have grown we have started to use more of the wilderness and care less for it. But we need to return to a care and farming equilibrium. Again as was said in Genesis 2:15 “The LORD God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and to take care of it (“Genesis”).” He intent was for us to enjoy and use the aspects of the environment as long as we take care of them along the way, which we do not do enough of. So next time you get a chance to take part in taking care of the wilderness don’t hesitate to do so.
Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic may do a good job of bringing nature to your living room but you cannot experience nature from your couch. You cannot count watching an animal fight for food or a goat climb up the side of a cliff on your flat screen television as knowing and understanding nature. The organized chaos I witnessed between the boulders and water of Hebron Rock Colony and the dangerous dive I saw that daring bird make at River Park North educated me of nature’s beauty and danger. In my experiences I have stood a foot from imminent death and watched a bird fight for food that without could mean his death. These experiences were provided to me by East Carolina’s Honors College Wilderness Writing Seminar. I had experienced my backyard, the beach, and a few ski resorts but my wilderness experiences did not go much further than that. This class was focused on expanding my wilderness knowledge and perceptions in numerous fun and free thinking ways that were hands on and interactive instead of being solely literature based, which leaves most students bored and uninterested.
Each and every day students are lulled to sleep by professors preaching to them the ideas of passed philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, etc. It is sad to think that these classes teach students that the ideas are fact and leaves the students to memorize them. That is why I believe that more courses such as Wilderness Writing Composing the Natural World: Honors Seminar at East Carolina University should be offered to students all across the country. The class stands on its own compared to the rest of the courses available on campus. It is a class of unrestricted thinking and exploring. It challenges its students to not only explore various thoughts from past beings on the wilderness and what it is but also challenge their own existing ideals on it.
All my life the wilderness has spoken to me. I was known to just climb trees and sit near the top as a child without a care in the world. I enjoyed observing everything underneath me all day; taking note of any new animals or plants I would see each day. I always craved to explore more and learn about the environment around me. I was known to wander off into the woods making my own trails for hours on end only coming home for the warm dinners my mother would make.
When I signed up for the wilderness writing I was ready to explain my own feelings on the wilderness. I came in thinking that I would write essays and post on what the wilderness was. But I had no idea that I was unaware of what the wilderness was and how easily I could positively and negatively affect it daily. This class has helped me begin to understand what the wilderness was by helping me experience more of nature. My first experience came from River Park North in Greenville, North Carolina.
River Park North is a small park area that is based around the Tar River and various ponds created near it. It was surrounded by neighbor hoods, downtown Greenville, and many construction areas planning to push the boundaries closer and closer to its territory. It features numerous fishing docks, hiking trails and campsites to act as an escape for the citizens of Greenville who may not have such vast amounts of wilderness at their disposal. The park is a dying wilderness area that is still thriving to live despite being threatened to be wiped out any day now.
As I stepped out of the warm park office, I was over taken by a bitter cold winter chill and quickly pulled my unbuttoned jacket to my chest. I knew this bitter cold would haunt me for my time outdoors, so I made sure to button up my jacket as a wondered down the gravel trail towards the lake’s edge. It seemed the cold was going to overtake my thoughts during my mediation but because I was so focused on avoiding it, I missed seeing the family of brown ducks that had sought shelter from the wind in a small tree covered section of the river near the path.
But as I turned around to find another trail to walk on, I spotted them and sat down next to a large rugged tree whose stump provided a firm back rest near the shore’s edge. As I squatted on the ground which was coated by brown pine needles that had fallen from the large overhead trees, I could hear all of the small Minos disrupt the surface of the water as they fled for a deeper and safer area away from me, a large unknown disruption to their normal environment. The water’s surface glistened with every ripple as the ever-warming sun beat down on it from above. As the small family of brown ducks cleaned their feathers with their becks, I realized a large silver fish feeder off in the distance floating above the water that controlled the fish population of the once untouched river.
Near it, I found a white seagull that was once sitting by his lonesome in the middle of the creek that was being approached and squawked at by another seagull. He fled through to another spot on the lake only to soon be bothered again by the same obnoxious white seagull. To flee this time he climbed high into the sky; flapping his wings harder and harder as he climbed. During his accent I realized something small in his mouth slapping as his beck. The white bird tried to readjust his grip on the small item but failed to do so as it, which I realized was a fish, dropped from its grasp falling back towards the water. As soon as the bird realized the fish was no longer in its mouth it tucked its wings in and quickly descended to a lower level than its source of nutrition. As a jumper would pull his parachute, the bird opened its wings all at once and in a flash swooped by the fish, taking it back into its mouth before it hit the water. I lost the bird as it climbed over the tail trees that were overhead. My day was made, no my month was made because I had seen this amazing event in real life, real time not on Animal Planet or Discovery Channel. As I left my simple spot at the base of the tree to return to the class, I realized that I had just witnessed a wild act.
This wild act had mesmerized me past the scheduled return time but yet it seemed to pass by so fast. I had sat outside, under that tree for an hour and a half yet the bitter cold that caught me off at first had been lost in my thoughts. The wilderness had captivated my ever thought in one event. If I was to watch this on a television I would not care about why it was happening in the first place or even care to listen to the various squawks being produced by each bird. I would have just counted on the narrator to fill me in on the details as I drifted in and out of my nap on the sofa.
The next experience I had that took my senses by surprise. It was when our class visited Hebron Rock Colony in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, during our fieldtrip to Banner Elk for five days. I didn’t know what to expect as we walked down the well beaten path and across the small clear creek leading to the colony. I expected to see another small creek coming down a hill with large rocks on the sides that were exaggerated as boulders. But as I turned the corner I knew that my body was going to be tested mentally and physically if I was to conquer this natural nature made creation.
The colony was an incredible creation consisting of huge boulders in a large clearing from the trees surrounding with water moving all throughout. The boulders tended to increase in size as you ascended the formation. The smaller door sized boulders had made their way to the bottom of the colony while the larger car sized and bigger boulders had stayed higher. They varied from extruding above the water in a light grey color tint or being submerged underneath the river in a darker more stained look. Some were a combination of partly dry and somewhat submerged boulders.
The visualization was beautiful as I looked up the formation and plotted my ideal path. I planned on intentionally taking a more physically straining path to gain a sense of seclusion from the large group who was for sure planning to take the easiest path. With my partner near me I started across and up the rocks, but quickly my ideal speed was slowed. It took me a few slippery rocks to realize that I didn’t need to watch out for just wet rocks but frozen rocks as well. The rocks were very cold and with the atmosphere even colder, ice was very abundant in the formations and you had to be watchful if you were going to make it up safely.
With caution on my mind and adrenaline in my heart I jumped and climbed from one rock to the next and even included a few trees and fallen branches along the way. I found two caves on my accent. One was right underneath a huge boulder that went to the fourteen foot water fall at the top. The ground in the cave was littered with small smooth wet pebbles that seemed endless. It was peaceful and relaxing to stand near the running water and hide away from the troubles of the real world. The second cave I found was off of the water above the water fall. It was narrow but lead to a small path that took you further up the river. These caves were so calming it made the tiring accent worth every bit.
As I was called back down the formation I found my way to a large lookout point on a large boulder above the water fall. As I stood on the edge looking into the water fall, seeing the clear water slide down one boulder and slam into another adjacent boulder, I knew that one slip would most likely mean death. It amazed me how something so relaxing and peaceful could have so much raw power and danger throughout it. I was a foot away from possible death and yet my body was full of life.
When I made it to the bottom and looked up I didn’t see the huge boulders this time, I saw the clear flowing water. It was always changing directions, never ending, and quick. As it bounced from rock to rock I felt as if I was looking into one of the mediation rock water desk devices. The water flowed so quietly across the smooth boulders. It flowed left, right and downward all simultaneously with every intention of making it to the bottom of the colony. As I looked more into it I realized that the rocks were not this smooth to begin with, they had been shaped and molded into the incredibly smooth rocks they are today. All that molding was done by nature alone. It took years and years for this to be created and is still in some creation today and is beautiful. This exquisiteness of the formation was created only with the powerful caring hands of Mother Nature.
This was all nature that I had been a part of. The birds’ attempts at gaining and keeping their food, the waters ability to mold the huge rocks into beautiful smooth boulders was all natural. The park and colony reminded me that the nature is still out there. Living in a dorm room in Garrett Residency Hall and taking classes solely meant to make me memorize facts on how the wilderness came to be has blinded me from true nature. I was in the mindset that the few trees through campus that I passed on the way to classes was nature but only when I experienced these true acts and areas of nature did I realize how starved I was of it. That is why students all over the nation need this class to break them out of such a culturally-influenced mindset and introduce them to the wilderness that is all around our societal walls.
The experience of nature is something I encourage everyone to try to have whenever they can. It helps you appreciate all of life’s spoils and observe what it all came from. Nature may be dangerous but that does not mean that we should fear it. I think it means that we should embrace it and learn to live with it and not just use it for our own benefit. Just in my few experiences with nature thus far in the class I have learned to respect and admire it. I believe that my next experiences will only build on this mindset and I hope that it leads me to a more caring view on nature.
This class was put together by two brilliant professors, Mrs. Stephanie West-Puckett and Dr. Ashley Egan, who both strive to encourage abstract and intriguing thought processes towards how we actually use the wilderness today, how it currently effects and will affect our lives, and what we can do to change the future of the wilderness. I have had several biology and environmental classes before and I have learned the importance of caring for the environment and how we can use it. But it was not until I was able to experience the wilderness through this class that I realized the importance and urgent need for us to actually start to care for this environment of ours. Before this class, I was blind to how important it was to take part in protecting this environment. But now that I have observed and been a part of the environment that I had once only read of in books and seen first-hand mankind’s ignorant effect on it, I become more aware of my impact and am actively changing my habits for the better.
That is why classes much like this one should be offered and adequately funded all throughout the nation. Because you can teach children everything they need to know about the environment but until they have the opportunity to experience it, it will all just be facts on a page. This type of class has changed me and my fellow classmates and can change possibly our generation if it is made available. A positive change for our environment will not come about easy but with more classes like this, it will come about fast.
The thing I liked most about this assignment was our freedom to choose what we wanted to type our ideas as. We could do anything from a narrative to a letter. I tried to make the assignment my own by typing a letter to ask for funding from an organization for the class. I spent two days writing this essay and one day revising. I now wished I would have spent more time revising it because I feel that more needed to be reworded for it to make sense in a letter asking for funding.
One big risk I took was including two narratives in the letter along with my attempts to persuade the reader to donates and fund. My audience initially was the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission but after revising it became a variety of University Deans and abstract educators. The most difficult part was the flow from narrative to arguing and vice versa. It was hard to switch from just storytelling to making well thought out points on why more classes should be implemented across the nation. I think my writing improved most in respect to my ability to describe details through my narratives. I could not simply say that two birds fought over food, I had to go into detail. And I could not just simply say we climbed rocks, I had to describe the color texture and other aspects of the rocks.
I believe I succeeded and did best in describing details to the reader as if they were drawing it so that they could visualize it all the same as me. I feel that I failed in smooth transitions from narrative to argument based writing. I expect to receive feedback telling me to focus more on the argument than the narrative. I feel as if I do need to spend more time on it because it was quick change. I also feel like I should have had someone else go back through to fix sentence level errors as I have trouble focusing on the smaller things in an essay such as that.