Sunday, August 30, 2009
This is what Vermont used to look like, about a century ago. Over time, most of the farming/pasturing ended and the forests came back. There are some open areas like this left, and while they aren't natural, they are very pretty.
Recently, I told one of my friends that my overly-emotional nature was something I couldn't change and that it was part of who I was. She challenged this and told me that she thought it was silly for me to just decide I couldn't get rid of a characteristic about myself that I didn't like. She told me she is making herself better too, and if she is able to, so am I. I thought about this while sitting in a fen, and I think she is right. There are definitely things I can change about myself that I just don't, because I haven't had to in the past, or because I am too stubborn.
The hard part is figuring out which things about me are the ones that make me special, unique, fun, good, and which things about me are not core to my personality or are detrimental to my enjoyment of life, and can be changed. That's a hard question and one that I don't know the answer to yet. However, I did recently notice one thing. People here as a general rule are much more sincere, open, and honest than they are in Malibu and Santa Barbara. I have acquired the habit of responding in a cynical, sarcastic way to people, and I've done that a few times here when people were actually being real and honest. (how much dislike of Californians is caused just by this?) Even worse, I sometimes overreact and become too emotional when people don't react the way I want. It's a bad habit and one I need to get rid of (and it sounds much worse reading it here than when it was in my head!). Why am I defensive and insecure when I am around such great people?
So, here's my goal for fall semester: to be a little bit less reactive, more soft spoken. To take people at face value rather than assuming they have negative intentions. To be open to new ways of thought and new activities that I would not be open to back in California. Most importantly, to decrease the magnitude of expression of negative or extraneous emotions, while at the same time retaining the excitement, happiness, artistic expression, and love of the neat stuff in the world world that make me special and fun, I think.
Wow, that's a lot. We'll see if it works. I'm excited about my life here and think whether I stay in the Northeast or go back to California in a few years, I'll come out much stronger and more effective and less walled off.
Whew! Next time I'll post pictures, I promise. I have some neat pictures of a mossy forest and a fen.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
After a 'portage' where we carried a canoe through the streets of Burlington and Winooski, we 'put in' at the Winooski River just downstream from the waterfall and dam. The trip down the river was about 10 winding miles; the flow in this part of the river is quite slow so we mostly made progress by paddling rather than by the current. Once we arrived at the lake we paddled south for about three miles. The water was actually rather rough on the lake with swells of at least 1 foot and a bit of a headwind to paddle into. It was never dangerous but it made the ride more interesting. Eventually we landed at a beach north of Burlington, where we went for a swim and some of us took a nap in the sun.
Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera, because I didn't want it to get wet. However, we did get to see the following things:
-an osprey carrying a fish (or something it killed but they mostly eat fish)
-Other birds seen: green and great blue herons, snowy egret, kingfisher, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks (which look totally different here).
-a pileated woodpecker (heard but not seen)
-raccoon and skunk tracks (and smelled a skunk).
-mature floodplain forest with silver maples
-goldenrod and jewelweed
-interesting species of wild cucumber, morning glory, and cocklebur that look somewhat similar to the species seen in California
-Mussel shells (possibly just invasive zebra mussles
-A great view of the Adirondacks
-watching the tiny canoe informally named 'The Tate Crate' brave fairly large swells and not capsize.
Things are going to get more busy now but I still hope to go canoeing one or two times before it gets too cold. Then, it will snow, and I'll try cross country skiing and snowboarding.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
2011 FNEP team (plus one additional grad student). Team name TBD (Allium?).
This is a station to gauge water flow and monitor nutrients flowing out of a watershed (not a gross culvert as it appears). It's the same place where this photo from the Ecological Planning website was taken.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Montpelier, the smallest capitol city in the nation.
House of Tang?
Another river. We went kayaking down a river, which was lots of fun, but it wasn't this river. There are about a million rivers out here.
Brake for moose! (I didn't see any)
Back in Burlington, watching a storm come across Lake Champlain.
Summer can be pretty wet here. However, August has apparently been much less wet than July with just a few scattered thunderstorms. The last few days been hot and rain-free (but a bit muggy).
I'll be traveling for much of next week for a school field trip. I may or may not have internet access but either way I will post about it when I can.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This is Church Street, the pedestrian street in Burlington where people go to shop and eat and such. It's a nice place to walk to and only a 10 minute walk or so from my place. However, like most tourist areas, most of the best restaurants and bars are at least a block or two off the main drag (you can't go far because burlington is pretty small).
This is Indian Pipe, a plant that is parasitic either on fungi or on another plant. There was TONS of it last week popping up in Centennial Woods, a little forest preserve owned by UVM.
I live right by Battery Park, a really neat park on a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain (I can almost see the lake from my house but not quite). Here's the view from Battery Park looking out at Burlington Harbor.
There is water EVERYWHERE! It is normally a very wet area, and this summer has been wetter than average, although there's only been one day since I got here when it rained more than an hour or so at a time. Anyway, this is on the trail to Camel's Hump. Camel's Hump is one of the taller mountains in Vermont, and Eli and I hiked up it before he went back to Atlanta.
Pond below Camel's Hump... the map says it is a beaver dam but we didn't see any lodges or dams or anything. That's Camel's Hump in the background.
This is Mt. Ethan Allen. When I first came to Vermont it seemed like there weren't really distinct vegetation communities like there are in California. But in some cases there are. If you look closely you can see dark green conifers - probably firs and spruces. This is an example of the boreal forest that covers a lot of Canada, but in Vermont is mostly at higher elevations or in the northeast corner of the state.
Alpine vegetation! Even though Camel's Hump is barely over 4000 feet, it supports a small (10 acre) area of true Alpine vegetation, just like that seen in the Arctic or at 12,000 feet in the Sierras. It was weird being in an alpine area and not being out of breath (due to altitude).
Lichens, alpine grass, and the tiniest (and probably only) 'alpine lake' in Vermont.
Me looking disheveled on the peak. The reason I look even more disheveled than usual is because the trail gains almost 3000 feet in around 3 miles, and most of it is in the last mile.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Here's what I would look like if I were tiny!
Things are going well in Burlington, like all transitions, there are good moments and also some lonely moments, but the good moments dominate by far and I am excited for the future. More info and photos when I get time...
Monday, August 03, 2009
A mossy creek.
Berries... some orchid-like plant, not sure what it is yet.
A weird fungi that Eli called 'dead mans fingers'.
Pretty overlapping leaves... perhaps yellow birch.
Lake Placid, a touristy town we mostly avoided.
This is Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, a steep outcropping that we climbed - 1000 feet of elevation gain in 1 mile. It was steep!
The view up there was really nice, though! We didn't climb to the fire lookout area at the very top and instead hung out on these rocks.
the ferry to Vermont!
Eli and I are safe in Vermont and have been here since Saturday. Eli;s flight is really early tomorrow morning, so he'll be back in Atlanta soon.
I'll post Vermont pics when I get time