“These things I ponder as the kettle sings, and the good oak burns to red coals on white ashes. Those ashes, come spring, I will return to the orchard at the food of the sandhill. They will come back to me again, perhaps as red apples, or perhaps as a spirit of enterprise in some fat October squirrel who, for some reasons unknown to himself, is bent on planting acorns” (Leopold, 17).

Writing a blog this semester has made me look more closely to how and when the seasons change. From September until now, I saw little differences each month;from the  the leaves changing color, to the leaves falling to the ground, the slow changes were signs of the year coming to an end. And with that, this class also came to an end. But looking back at all of the material covered in class, I never stopped learning because this blog and the semester project made me go out and continue to observe and learn about nature firsthand. Although all i had to do was to sit outside for an hour and pay close attention to what I saw, I feel that I learned more than I expected. I learned more about what animals live in the area, what their habitats look like, how the animals interact with each other, and who the climate affects the area. For example, towards the beginning of the semester, the area was very dry and the ground was cracked in some spots. But after rainy days, the ground was softer and the temperature felt different.

Before I began the first blog entry, I wanted to pick a place that I would not normally go to. I wanted a spot that not many people went to so I could enjoy the sounds of the animals in the area. This would make my experience a better experience and it would allow me to enjoy nature. As i reread the first blog, it takes me back to the moment I was there. The first time I stepped foot there is different from what I see now. Not only in a physical sense, but in a memorable sense. The feeling that I had when I was first there was a feeling of wonder. I wondered what types of animals were around and how many other people had been where I was. It also made me feel as though I had discovered a secret place. Now that I have gone back one last time, it feels different because it is no longer a secret place I have found. It is a place that I can share with others.

One of the things i enjoyed the most about this assignment was that it made me pay more attention to my surroundings. I have only been living in Austin for a year now so it was always interesting to see the landscape here and compare it to my hometown. Another thing I enjoyed about this assignment was that because I went to the same spot for all of my blogs, I was able to see the actual changes in the area and not changes in the general Austin area. At the spot I went to, I had a good overlook of the hill nearby. I could see a few office buildings and homes, but you could also see the trees surrounding the homes. When I went to the lower part of the hill, I found a small creek that had water when it rained. I thought it was interesting that the creek was there but very hidden. Another spot that I enjoyed going to in the area was the spot that had the dome-like space. I was never able to figure out what it was but it was a bit creepy that it was there because there wasn’t anything nearby besides some apartments.

Looking at the word cloud, the words that stand out the most are creek, nature and trees. When I see these words, I think of the area a studied. I can picture the slanted trees that stood on the hill, the fallen trees and branches on the side of the creek, and the leaves that slowly changed color as the season changed. Some of the less popular words on the word cloud such as birds, squirrels, and plants also make me think of the place I went to because they residents of the area I observed. There were not an abundant amount of squirrels and birds, but I would always see birds flying above the trees. But as the weather went from hot to cold, the number of squirrels and birds I saw slowly reduced.

The word cloud in a sense brings the entire class together because it allows for each of us to see what we have done. We all observed similar things throughout the semester and we can also see the differences in other blogs. Each of us can reflect on how we did on the individual level and compare that to how we did as a class. The word cloud can also be used as a tool to document what people have written. For example, future classes can see what we wrote about and compare it to what they have written about.

I think that even after this assignments, many of us will continue to go out and explore the environment around us. This assignment has inspired me to go out and enjoy what the city of Austin has to offer. But this assignment has also forced to look at my surroundings from a different point of view. Before this assignment, I would look at the surface of nature and not really want was deep inside. After the blogs I wrote before, I have noticed that even when I go to Zilker for a run, I pay more attention the the trees I pass by. It has definitely made me more appreciative of nature. Both the class and this assignment has made me more aware of environmental issues and what can be done to make the earth a better place.



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