The return of my poetry (and myself!)

Hey! So I know I promised I would eventually write three more poems to complete the 30 poem series that was part of NaPoWriMo.

I finally have three more poems!

They were inspired by my residency trip to Surry, Maine for my graduate program at the Institute for Humane Education.

Additionally, I have a mixed media painting inspired by my time there too!

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Here is one of the three poems (I will be posting the other two later)

The Journey to Maine and Back

The clouds looked more beautiful–

The contrast of blue and white, more pronounced

The Earth looked rounder

The  stars shone brighter

The fireflies were more numerous, reflecting the stars

The ocean was rockier

The forests greener

A field of wildflowers, the first I ever walked through

The sun rose earlier than I imagined

Yet I awoke every morning just in time

And I stayed awake to the beauty of nature

As I drove myself back home

Now the clouds here look just as beautiful

And the Earth as round

I may not always see the stars, but I know they are there

Sometimes if I look close enough I may see a firefly

Bringing the stars back down to my level

The oceans are more sandy

The forests are more lush

Though I’m in a different environment

There is just as much beauty to be found

And I must stay awake to it!

NaPoWriMo Day 8: Cooler, Warmer

Okay, so this poem is sort of inspired by something that has very little to do with climate change or environmental ethics. It is inspired by the horrible slogan for Rhode Island tourism (“cooler, warmer”) that we Rhode Islanders were revolted by and demanded they do not use (after spending millions of tax dollars on the campaign, of course). Here is a link to a news article on the subject. While I am not interested in coming up with a new slogan for my state, I am interested in repurposing the slogan for raising awareness of environmental issues, and it works pretty well I think! 😉

Once Cooler, now Warmer

Rising temperatures in the oceans cause problems for sea creatures as bone crushing predators migrate (for more information on the subject and my inspiration, go here)

The south

Once warmer

Is now hotter

The north

Once cooler

Is now warmer

 

Predators like sharks and rays

Were absent in the waters

Of the poles

If the water gets warmer

They move where it’s cooler

 

Suddenly, the soft sea creatures

Who live

In the farthest points of the planet

Will be consumed by bone crushing predators

The balance will be disturbed

When the waters get warmer

 

Field Trip #4, Tuesday March 8, 2016 Norman Bird Sanctuary

On Tuesday I met my friend Rachel at her house in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. We planned to go to the Norman Bird Sanctuary, in Middletown, which she lives close to.

First I got to meet her dog, Stella who is adorable and so sweet! She also has one beautiful blue eye, and one darker brownish color eye! I was really excited to interact with a dog, since my parents are not dog people…which means I don’t have much experience with dogs, but I do love them when I get to meet them.

Anyways, the Norman Bird Sanctuary is also an educational center. Here is their website for more information: http://normanbirdsanctuary.org/

It has many trails. The welcome center guide said that the trail we chose to take would take us about an hour and a half round trip. Somehow we did it in less than an hour, but I think we are fast walkers. Or maybe we didn’t follow the map correctly, who knows. But it was beautiful and a lot of fun!

This was the first time I went with a friend, and I really enjoyed having company to discuss what we were seeing and other random ideas related to nature, art, music, education, life, etc.

My favorite part of the hike was climbing some steep areas and getting to this rock! (It’s also a perk to have a friend with you so you can take pictures of yourself when you climb tall things! haha)

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Anyways.

The journey through the grounds started here with nothing much to see.

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However, far off into the distance, you can see the coastal area.

We obviously headed down the path in that direction. There were two choices though, one led away from the water.

Shortly after making that decision, we stopped to admire this pond. I asked my friend what one of the emerging buds of a plant might be. We decided it was probably skunk cabbage, which I remembered from an assignment in my Environmental Ethics course, was one of the first plants to come out in Rhode Island towards the spring season here.

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This is a picture of the plant in question. It’s in the middle of the frame.

I was curious about these trees. I wasn’t sure if they were Birch trees or if something happened to them and the bark fell off or something. It looked peculiar.

These curly vines fascinated me.

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We started to get towards a higher elevation:

And ended up here:

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This is where we took the picture of me on top of the rock with my arms outstretched further up on the page.

We made our way down, and came across a big pond with geese screeching quite loudly. I never realized how big the geese were seeing them swimming in the water. Something felt out of place…I have probably been quite close to geese before as a child, but suddenly they looked even bigger than I remembered…usually it’s the other way around with memories of animals as a kid. I was confused by that–maybe I had never seen a goose in the water and that was why.

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I had a hard time capturing the geese, but they are there way in the back if you look closely.

As we made our way back to the Welcome Center, we observed these chickens. I was enamored with the one that has speckled type feathers and fluffy feathery feet (which you can’t see in the photo). The hen was curious about us too.

This was a beautiful day, the first real warm day of the pre-spring season. It was at least 60 degrees! I was hot in my cardigan and lightweight fleece jacket! I took off my sweater and just wore the fleece and was still hot!

I want to come back to this site again soon when more plants are blooming. Hopefully I can also see more birds, as we didn’t see many…it was said that we might somehow see some owls (although they’re nocturnal, and we were there in the middle of the day, so I’m not sure how…I kept looking in some of the trees to see if I would spot one hiding/sleeping).

I asked about volunteer opportunities, but I’m not 100% sure I will follow through because of various reasons. I’d love to though if I could.

This is technically my last field trip required for the class, but look out for more photos and posts about my adventures, as I think I’m going to start being out and exploring nature places more often this Spring and Summer. I am going to aim to do so at least twice a month. Whether I’ll blog about it always is another story.

 

 

Field Trip #3 Saturday, March 6

Field Trip #3 Saturday, March 6

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When I was given the task to go on nature field trips, in my mind I had quite ambitious goals for where I’d go when the weather improved. I wanted to go to all the prettiest, coolest, most challenging locations I could find. Some would require a bit of driving. But then in practice, something else happened once I started doing them. I wanted to find the cool trails and nature areas, without having to travel much at all. Last Saturday, I drove less than five minutes to an elementary school I had attended as a child that has a nature path behind it that I had never once explored. I could have walked there instead of driving, it would have been better for me and the environment, but I was somewhat short on time.

I couldn’t figure out the name of the nature trail until I visited it again yesterday, and took the picture above. It’s called the Hampton Meadows Greenbelt, located in the town of Barrington, RI.

The first thing I noticed was the duck pond. There were lots of Mallard ducks being quite vocal actually. I wish there was a way to attach the video of their noises I took here. This picture will have to suffice:

duck pond 1

I first focused on exploring the area with trails directly behind the school, but there wasn’t much there really.

Then I found a longer path on the other side of the pond which was quite nice. There were so many bird sounds, aside from the ducks off in the distance.

The trail was pretty well kept. In the muddy areas there are wood paths to cross over as pictured in the picture to the right above.

One thing I noticed was a lot of downed trees and some that looked like they were chopped to clear a path when the trees would be otherwise blocking the trail. I wonder what the rules and regulations for this sort of stuff is, because I know you can get in trouble for disturbing the trees, but I don’t know if that applies to when they’re down.

Here’s a series of photos I took of fallen trees. We have had some severe weather over the past few years that has probably contributed to this issue.

I also came across a tree branch that was in a perfect arch shape, and wondered how it got like that:

perfectly round

 

I was intrigued by these patches of green:

There is a stream that runs alongside the trail for part of the time:

stream

I was sad that I was short on time, because I was enjoying my walk in these woods so much, and the trail seemed to go on indefinitely from what I could see, that I was wanting to explore more.

I ended up doing so a few days later, on Wednesday with my mom who had also never been here before.

I was in awe that there are such beautiful places to explore so close to me, and I can’t wait to visit more frequently and see the changes the seasons bring.

 

 

Nature Field Trip #2 Saturday February 27

Nature Field Trip #2 Saturday February 27

On Saturday, February 27th, I planned to go to a Yoga for Athletes workshop by a vegan couple called Yogi Triathlete. Since it was a bit out of the way from where I live, I decided to go exploring in that area. I don’t know North Kingstown, Rhode Island well at all, so I googled some stuff and decided upon a nature trail I could explore that was convenient to the yoga studio. I arrived at Wilson Park, and at first was a bit nervous because it didn’t seem very natural at all. It had a grassy field, lots of parking lots, a softball field, playground equipment, etc. I gave it the benefit of the doubt though, and after I parked, started walking to the wooded area visible to my eyes.

This led to a bike path, which led to a path through the woods. I saw another path through brush and vines and started following it, but it became too thick and I wasn’t sure where it’d even lead to. I kept getting stuck in thorny vines too and it wasn’t pleasant.

I turned back…and followed the paved path for a bit. It looked like this:

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Eventually I found another path, which took me here:

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I stood here for awhile, taking it all in. It was windy and I could hear birds and the rustling of the grass and trees. There were also wind chimes and other human-caused noises I could hear. It’s not pictured but I could see several buildings and boats from where I was standing if I turned around a bit.

After awhile of being there, I went back out to the path and eventually came to a place where there was another big parking lot. It led to the shore and quite nice:

I explored a bit more, there were some boats turned over and a boat filled with ice that I saw. The only other people there were a father and his boys exploring as well.

After staying for a few minutes, I turned around and took the walk through the path back to my car. I was a little fearful I would forget the path I took like I did with my last field trip, but I was paying more attention this time.

I only documented one blatant piece of litter…

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Overall, this area seemed pretty well kept. I even saw this sign by the water:

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There weren’t many people here, but I became a little nervous that I was so far away from my car and all alone. I started wishing  I was at least with a dog like most of the other people I encountered, if not another human. In fact, I let myself daydream a bit too much about one day having a dog. But, I tried to calm myself and enjoy the nature. Maybe I had difficulty with being present because it wasn’t as beautiful and interesting as my first field trip and I was sort of disappointed. I certainly got plenty of time to be mindful in the yoga class later on that day though!

 

Nature field trip #1

Nature field trip #1

Hey! So I just revamped this blog that used to be about my thoughts I had while running. I decided to turn this into something less specific with a focus on sharing my own journey to caring for myself in the hopes that people can relate to it.

I got this idea, partly because I wasn’t keeping up with the blog because I can’t run right now due to an injury, and partly because I am a new graduate student studying humane education…and self care is what I found myself surprisingly needing to focus on first to do well and be a productive student. I am also always thinking about how I can teach others about self care, but I realized I need to take my own advice.

In one of my classes, environmental ethics, one of the assignments is perfect for self care. It’s to find a place in nature and to be mindful of the surroundings and to pay attention to it all. I am unsure if taking pictures can be part of this, but I feel like without pictures I am unable to remember what it was like as well. You will see these shortly.

This first trip was taken at the Claire D. McIntosh wildlife refuge and Jacobs Salt Marsh, in Bristol, Rhode Island and Warren, Rhode Island respectively. They are a short walk on a path a way from each other, and right near the border of the two towns.

I started at the wildlife refuge.

wildlife refuge

I went down the path, over a pond (there’s a wooden structure that passes over it) that was still partially frozen but also had bulbs opening up.

pond with bulbs opening

I stopped on the path and looked around and listened. I realized I was hearing some ducks. So, I went around the corner to see a large group of Mallard ducks.

mallards

Then I started walking to the bike path, heading over to the salt marsh area. I took note of this sign.

jacobs point salt marsh restoration

Then I slowly walked down the path I had taken in the past through the salt marsh and over to the rocky, sandy coastal beach area.

I was met by a bunch of different birds. There were various gulls, ducks, and a single swan.

ducks swimming

swan

The swan was hard to capture without it’s head in the water.

I walked across the shoreline, trying to observe what I was seeing. I became mindful of the material we are learning about plastic litter and trash in the oceans, and started to look for evidence of it here. I took photos of it. I wanted to take it with me and throw it out elsewhere, but there was a little too much and I didn’t have anything to put it in. I also don’t know what the rules are if any about cleaning up the area.

I sat on a rock for a bit right by the shore and watched the tide come in and out in front of me. It was quite relaxing and I tried to breathe in sync with it.

I slowly tried to make my way back to the path that brought me to this secluded area (it was just me and the birds) but I kept walking past the entrance to the path. I started to panic a bit because I was getting a little tired of going back and forth and still couldn’t find it! I guess I hadn’t been aware of my surroundings as much as I could have. I eventually found it and walked back to the bike path where I followed it to make one last destination.

Across from the wildlife refuge entrance, there is a boardwalk that goes into the middle of the marsh grass that grows all around it. I was admiring the grass, but then I realized I don’t even know the name of the species it is! If anyone knows, please comment. I tried googling it but had some difficulty identifying it. Here is a picture of what I mean:

grass stuff

I walked to the end of the boardwalk, that shows off a view of the ocean. It’s supposed to be impressive, but it didn’t compare to views I had when I was directly on the shore. I didn’t bother to take a picture there…I thought the houses and boats you could see in the water would tarnish the beauty of it.

On the walk back towards my car, someone past me and said “it doesn’t feel like it’s 50 degrees yet!” I laughed and said no, except to myself I was thinking I was so happy it was warmer out and that it had to be at least 50 degrees. I checked the temperature, and it was 52. The cool ocean breeze must’ve confused the other person.

When I got back to my car, I felt really warm. I had been walking a lot. In fact, when I checked my Fitbit I had stepped 8,000 steps. Considering I’m lucky if I get 10,000 steps by the end of the day, and this was before 1pm, it was a lot! But it felt so good. The salty air was so refreshing and I didn’t notice how stifling and stuffy being indoors felt for a little bit.

The assignment was to spend at least a half hour in nature. I told myself in the beginning that I would keep the first one short and to the point, but I got a bit carried away and spent over an hour there.

I had also never been here by myself. I had always gone with someone else. It was nice to be by myself and go at my own pace and only have myself as my company and internal conversation partner.

I think I’ll go back again soon, especially with spring on it’s way!