Brown, December 2014

In the chaos of life, and in the world we’ve created for ourselves, it’s easy to forget about nature. Much of my time is unfortunately spent indoors, staring at a computer, and this became even clearer to me after taking the time to observe in nature and write these blog entries. As humans, we sometimes forget that we are also a part of nature, and even more so we forget that being in nature is important to our well-being. I think that, in a sense, spending time outdoors surrounded by nature brings us back to our roots.  It grounds us, and reminds us that there’s a world that’s bigger and more beautiful than the one we’ve created, and it’s literally right outside our door.

Now, at the end of the semester, looking back on the past couple of months almost seems like a blur. Busy, always moving, and preparing is what my days consist of. Going to my nature spot was almost like an escape – somewhere I could go that wasn’t bombarded with the normalities of my everyday life.

word cloud

Towards the beginning of the semester in September, I made an effort to be outside more on my own because I had a bit more free time. I not only went to my usual nature spot close to my apartment, but I would also go at night and run/walk around Lady Bird Lake if I had the time. Fall is my favorite season, so I’m glad I had the opportunity to take this class during this semester and spend time watching the seasons change.

October was a good month to observe how drastic differences in rainfall affect a particular place because it rained pretty heavily a coupe of days out of the month. Towards the end of my observations, I felt almost like a mother to these little tadpoles I had been watching in the creek because they seemed so small and fragile, and I wanted to protect them! Something really hit home for me when we learned about atrazine and how it is affecting amphibians, especially knowing that is it human caused and learning about the repercussions if we were to lose them. Which brings me to a small word on the world cloud – tadpoles! I think I probably used that word a lot, but I’m sure others did too, and it’s nice knowing that others in the class had experiences with and talked about tadpoles. I noticed that the word “frog” isn’t on there, and am now realizing that I saw only one or two frogs during my observations. It’s interesting no one else seemed to mention them, either.  I wonder if our area is seeing a decrease in frogs?

Like I said in my monthly blog post, November was definitely my favorite time to observe because of the drastic weather changes throughout the month. While the area progressively became more dry and brown, the changing colors of the trees were my favorite part. I remember it was during this month that most of the trees in the area were all green one week, and then when I went back the next week, most of them were adorned with red, orange, and yellow leaves. Interestingly, the three biggest words on the word cloud, “creek,” “water,” and “nature,” were main topics I wrote about, and obviously others did as well. I think observing a fluctuating creek was the perfect way to see how much water and rainfall can directly affect an ecosystem (especially in Texas), which is why I continuously went back to my usual spot.

I think it would interesting to see what a word cloud would look like in a different area in Texas, like Dallas or Houston, or even in a completely different state. This word cloud definitely embodies autumn in Austin, Texas, especially because we don’t see words like “snow” or “wind.” If I decide to move elsewhere in the future, I hope to use what I learned in this class to get briefly get away from life, and make sure to find time to spend and observe nature.  And I must remember, it is not only important to find time with nature – it is necessary. We must close our laptops, shut off our cell phones, and go back to where it all started. Aldo Leopold agrees, as we have mutual feelings about humans’ relationship with the Earth. In A Sand County Almanac, he mentions, “Civilization has so cluttered this elemental man-earth relationship with gadgets and middlemen that awareness is growing dim. We fancy that industry supports us, forgetting what supports industry.”

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