The sun on the first day of ecology lab embraced our group and warmly encouraged us to step out of the classroom and into the wild and unknown, if only for 3 hours a week. In the last ecology lab of the semester, our group returned to its original site, Waubesa Wetlands, to address the changes in vegetation, weather, and how our own understanding and opinions this semester have changed along with the seasons.
This actually took place a couple weeks ago, and, as my blog absence has suggested, my lack of writing is due to the flurry and hubbub that takes place at the end of each semester. Over the past two weeks, I’ve gotten to the point where my only response to what I have to get done this weekend is, “I don’t want to think about it.”
Although writing here has been difficult to maintain over the past month or so, I have made a couple presentations about my blog now, and from these, I know that I’ll keep it up as I think it has aided in my own understanding of environmentally-related subjects and encouraged me to advocate for increased environmental knowledge and action among my readers. Anyway, sorry again for my absence. Can’t wait to catch up on here with all the interesting things I’ve learned.
Back to Waubesa.
Samuel and Lisa’s idea for taking us back there was very rhetorical as it related to our maturation coinciding with the seasonal changes in the wetlands. Where on the first day we shyly followed Samuel into the grass to get our bare feet dirty in the peat, on the last we shivered in the wind and boldly shared our insights and memorable moments from the semester. We stood in the leafless, browned wetland to discuss what we’d learned or how our opinions had evolved in light of Cal’s quirky lessons, our hands-on labs, and or our application of these lessons in other parts of our lives. I scribbled notes of peoples’ memories as quickly as I could, but without relaying them all back, it was a powerful time to see how each lab had affected us differently and showed us each something new that we could take away and apply to our other studies.
The theme of the semester, as introduced by Samuel on the first day, remained the fact that humans are a part of nature just as “natural things” are that we may refer to as nature itself. While a telephone pole in the wetland may not seem “natural,” it was placed there as a result of a human choice, and us humans are just as important (or unimportant) to nature as a beaver or bird or tree. So, what made us feel like we were important enough to disrupt this environment by adding this pole? Would our actions have been different if we’d considered the rest of the environment before choosing this location, type of wood, type of wiring, etc. Humans are a part of nature and must not view themselves as “above” or somehow removed from it.