Tag Archives: Ecology

Peat on my Feet

After spending last semester in DC, I wrote off the potential of enjoying learning while in Madison.

I’m glad to say, however, today proved that judgment incorrect.

I actually can’t believe all the things that happened today fit into one day!

8:00 am- I woke up to go for a run. In preparation for my sister’s wedding in June, she and I have dedicated ourselves to doing wonderful things for our bodies to instill greater energy, self confidence, health and… sexiness? Anyway, we set a tentative goal to run a half marathon together sometime in the future (maybe this summer?). So, this morning was the official kickoff to my official training. It was a beautiful morning, so… so far, so good! (Hopefully I’ll be able to say the same for a few more days at least!)

11 am- Had Food, Culture and Society class. Today we discussed the difference between being on a diet, being skinny, and being healthy. We pondered what pleasure means when it pertains to food and if it can be applied to “bad” things such as fast food and gummy worms. Pollan mentions the French Paradox- the fact that the French are much healthier (live longer, less heart disease, less obesity), but eat foods higher in fat and cholesterol and drink more than we. We discussed how this may be and what ways the US may need to rethink eating in order to accomplish a similar environment. (Or healthier, whether alike their eating habits or not.)

1:20 pm- Met in Science Hall to leave for my first Environmental Ecology lab. It was so great! We drove a trusty UW Biodiesel bus to our professor Cal DeWitt‘s house which is stationed on the edge of a huge wetland. We learned about the land, the town, noted various species, enjoyed the BEAUTIFUL day, got our toes and hands dirty, and learned about peat!

Peat is found under wetlands and is carbon-dense, lacks oxygen, and absorbs water. We dug some up (it goes down 100 feet in this location) and the texture reminded me of Play-Dough. I tried to press it into a diamond, but no luck so far.

Anyway, I had a great time on our “field trip” and I’m looking forward to learning a lot in that class. It was nice to take a break from academia and walk through the wetlands barefoot, enjoy some fresh tomatoes and apples from Cal’s yard (and even eat some of his wife’s delicious banana bread), all while being “in class.” Our TA, Samuel, made a very interesting point about calling things Natural or not. He asked if the mowed, straight drumlin we were standing on (which facilitated the functioning of the telephone poles) was natural. We said no since it had to be created and maintained by humans to exist. Then he asked, if we were to see a beaver dam, if that would be considered natural, and we said yes.

He warned about being so quick to judge. He reasoned that humans must consider ourselves merely a species on the earth just as are beavers who create dams. This means the artificial drumlin housing the telephone poles must be considered natural, since it was created by just another species inhabiting the earth. He explained the danger in automatically assuming that humans are an exception to the rule and can somehow be considered “above” other species. He stated his belief that we’re all living together on this planet, so although humans have learned how to use science and tools, we still own the earth in the same way other animals do and have the same ability to affect the land.

Interesting.

4:30 pm- quick stop at home before another class.

6-9 pm- First session of, “Freedom and Belonging: A rhetorical overview of American historical events from the Civil War through WWI.”

One word: INTIMIDATING. Lots of grad students, big words, readings, papers, more readings, and more papers. As I read through the syllabus I bid adieu to the Badger Herald Staff-Writing idea. Sad.

10-11 pm: Made mom’s veggie enchiladas and Spanish rice while the ingredients were still fresh from the farmers’ market!

11:30 pm- Visited with friends and ate enchiladas.  (Way late dinnertime)

and… now I’m exhausted.

Anyway, I’m both excited and overwhelmed by what I’m sure to learn this semester. Should have my work cut out for me though!

Night,

Jenny

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