Chavez-Sanchez, December 2014

Over the course of the semester, it’s been nice to go out and observe nature as an assignment. This is a reason I appreciate that St. Edward’s offers environmental science courses. So far it feels like the middle ground between birdwatcher and biologist; it’s easy but committed, and is available for people to work into their lives. It teaches information applicable in today’s environment and, as a form of education, is the first step towards sustainability. It’s also good to see my classmates enjoyed their observations as well and understand how environmental issues apply to each of us, as well as future generations to come.

Analyzing the class’s word cloud, certain words pop out most. “Creek,” “water,” and “nature” are the largest words. Nature and creek were expected because nature was the main point of the assignment and Blunn Creek was a suggested location so perhaps most people wrote on that. Water appearing as the largest word is interesting though. There’s something I find peaceful about water that most people probably connected with too. For me, it’s a paradox. Flowing water is, in energy, restless but in physical form, conforming. Its’ sounds are simple but draw in listening, like there’s something more in the sound. To me, water connects on a deeper level with its’ simplicity and pureness. It’s like water is the essence of peace and life; a tangible symbol.

There are also some observational words on the word cloud. I see “pretty” and “beautiful,” as well as “peaceful.” At least some people can still find nature pleasant. My parents, who have no time for going out, don’t really openly appreciate the area around them. Sometimes my mother will chime something in when something pretty stands out but typically, they’ll ignore things around them and not want to join trips outside. I think being outside on a good day is one of the best feelings. I step outside and, for me at my home at least, it’s just open.  There’s warm sun and a cool breeze and I just want to wander the land, or sometimes just sit with my dog right outside my door. It’s relaxing and meditative, and living inside always feels closed off. Spending too much time indoors will make me feel like the world is limited. To better depict what I mean, yesterday I went to pay the water bill and there was a large dog in the fence around the water tower. It was a decent enough space but I wondered how long the dog had been in there. No doubt a good while (as in months) because every time a car passed, he’d bark and chase. Every time a person passed, he’d follow. He even hit the fence door latch up to try and get out. He knows how to get out and he knows he’s in a cage. He can see down the road, and down the other, but he has never been there. It’s a limited world for him and I don’t want my life to be similar. There’s no reason I can’t go and see what’s out there and it’s good to know other’s enjoy doing that as well.

Personally, for my own reflections about my own blogs, it was very therapeutic to go out to the deeper parts of my land again. The last time I was there was when I was young and my father took us all (my brothers and uncles) shooting down there. I even found some remains of the metal barrels and cans we shot. Something else I saw was on the deepest corner of the land, my family had dumped a lot of trash. Most mattress springs, ruined tools, and roofing materials. There are also frames of really old cars lying around here and there on the land. They’re all rusted over and ruined but no one will do anything with them. It’s disappointing to see that though, and disappointing to know my family would still do it. “Out of sight, out of mind” is usually the rule for most people.

Besides the dumped trash though, going out is, like I said, therapeutic. The urban world is so information dependent; there’s always something you have to do, or something trying to tell you something. It’s ironic because my job as a Graphic Designer is exactly that: trying to feed someone information in a visually accessible way. However, being out in a deeper part of nature is one of my favorite things because it isn’t rushed. It’s just something odd I think of now and then; most of nature has no interest in you like people have an interest in nature. Nothing out there has an interest in you besides being careful of you. And if you’re quiet and still, animals usually get comfortable enough to come close. Interacting with animals is, in ways, more interesting than interacting with people. People directly tell you what they think or want but you can only judge and animals intentions by its’ behavior and actions. Taking time to watch and animal and think to yourself about its’ thoughts is a simple but interesting activity. It’s much like having pets.

In conclusion, the nature blogs this semester have been very enjoyable to me. Nature watching was already a habit of mine, and this served as an opportunity to think about it more critically. I also was able to make my youngest brother a part of it at times so that was enjoyable for both him and I. It’s good to see that many other students enjoyed the assignment as well and could think deeper about something a lot of people exploit or ignore. At the end of observations though, it’s important to keep in mind “three basic ideas:

(1)   That land is not merely soil.

(2)   That the native plants and animals kept the energy circuit open; others may or may not.

(3)   That man-made changes are of a different order than evolutionary changes. And have effects more comprehensive than is intended or foreseen.”

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