November Astrolabe

SUNY Geneseo's Sturges quad, after a snowstorm.

Our final project of the semester was a collaborative one that took its final form as an ArcGIS story map. Its premise was to explore interactions of sky and earth at a time when smartphones accomplish many of that older instrument’s functions–albeit enabled by complex networks of geosynchronous satellites, data centers, and cell towers. Under this Anthropocene sky, we drew upon nature writing to turn ourselves into astrolabes: every half hour, between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm, one of us skywatche from a particular location on or near campus, took a smartphone photograph to record that moment, and then wrote about earth & sky on the day of November 15, 2018. Our goal was to explore unappreciated connections between these different realms, whether material or imaginative. Have a look at “November Astrolabe” by following this link.

Winter Critters

Snow and trees under a winter skyThe first snowfall at Geneseo, in which enough snow accumulated on the ground to reach halfway up my calf, was accompanied by mixed feelings among the student population. Two girls were giggling near the College Union, engaged in a snowball war. From my window I could see students sledding down the hill outside of my dorm on milk crates. Contrarily, my roommate declared that she is “boycotting outside” while my friend from Maryland experienced a self-proclaimed existential crisis when witnessing snow fall in the month of November for the first time. And me? My concern lay with the squirrels.

From the moment I arrived on campus, the squirrels fascinated me. At home on Long Island, they are skittish and light in color. The squirrels here are much darker, and possess a shocking amount of courage. They openly rummage through garbage cans and approach students. I once found myself locked an intense stalemate while attempting to enter Jones Hall. A squirrel sat in the doorway, and every time I attempted to move forward it shifted to block my path. Eventually it grew bored and left, but I always ensure that I exercise caution around the little critters.

There had been no sign of the squirrels during the first day after it snowed. I grew worried, as I now consider them to be an integral part of the campus environment. Once students emerged from their warm shelter and began to trudge through the snow, Geneseo appeared to be inhabited again with paths forged by footprints covering the campus. The squirrels returned too, though in fewer numbers than usual. They dart in and out of craters created by boots in search of food and shelter. It is true that the local community depends upon Geneseo, and sometimes, it is not only the humans!          — Alyssa

80 Degrees in October: A Flashback

On October 10 I decided to do my homework outside. Just the previous weekend my parents had come to visit, and my mom asked, “Do you ever do your work outside?” I thought for a second and said “Ummm, no mom it’s too cold now.” Although she was satisfied with that answer, I was not. I had been at Geneseo for over a month and not once had I ventured outside to complete my work. A couple of days after she left I decided to do just that. On October 10th, the weather was warm and welcoming. I found myself at a picnic table by a residence hall close by. I had brought my headphones with the intention of listening to music while I worked; when I have my headphones in I am able to tune out everything else around me and focus. I soon noticed, though, that my music was unnecessary because I had all of the “music” I needed around me. I noticed dogs barking, birds chirping, and squirrels rustling through the nature that surrounded me. At first, I was skeptical about how far I would be able to progress in my work in this environment, but after a short while I was making more progress than I was ever able to do in a silent study room or library. The outdoors was able to bring me a sense of peace and relaxation as I completed my work. I would take short breaks to observe my surroundings and feel the breeze on this beautiful day. Instead of getting distracted after my short breaks I would go right back to my work. This was a great experience and I was promise myself to do work outdoors more often and use the warm weather to my advantage.

The First Fall (x2)

Winter happens to be my least favorite time of the year. It is a long, cold season that can return at any given moment. Because I am so lucky, I was able to experience this amazing time of year twice, one being more dramatic than the other. I live exceptionally close to home (about an hour away) and so I tend to go home almost every weekend. While I was home over the previous weekend (the weekend of November 10th), I was given the pleasure to wake up to a thick, almost full-foot layer of snow outside of my house on Saturday morning. For me, it is not like the movies: sun creeping though the blinds, waking up, a big yawn with theatrical arm stretching, and then, as if never having seen snow before, looking outside and gasping with surprise and delight. No. I dread having to get up in the morning during the winter. I hate that it is light out in the morning, I hate that it is cold everywhere, and I hate that it is so wet.

After dealing with this marvelous blizzard all weekend, when I arrived back on campus Sunday night, I was super surprised to see only leaves on the ground and in the parking lot. After a couple days being back on campus, thinking I was in the clear, I was ever so fortunate to experience snowflakes falling from the sky yet again on Tuesday morning on my way to class without a coat. Although the snow did not stick this time, that does not mean we will be so lucky next time. After ordering some Converse snow boots and bringing my winter coat back with me, I’m only physically ready for the scarring moment when everything is soaked and covered in a thick blanket of white death. Until then, I’m feeling just fine with my high top canvas Converse and black jean jacket getting me though the days.          — Hannah

Lost in Thought

View from the back of Sturges Hall, SUNY Geneseo

Often, I find myself losing track of time; lost in the immersion of my own mind. Time passes by quickly in reality but in my mind, every second is like an eternity. The landscape around me roars with chatter and swift moving feet. Shoes can distinctly be heard against the ground; sneakers, boots, and heels disrupt my train of thought. I sit down upon the ledge at the back of Sturges, beautiful vines line the wall all the way to the roof. The vines appear to be racing one another, each attempting to reach the top first. My mind is overcome with thoughts, questions I do not yet have answers to and answers to questions I have yet to ask myself. The ledge transports me into a different state of mind. I look out on the vast valley below; my train of thought is insatiable, I am unable to set my focus on one specific thing. The moving people below act as a canvas for me to draw upon. My eyes transfix upon an individual and my mind imagines who they are and what their story is. This idea of people watching and keen observation is an oddity, yet intrigues me. My elevation above them allows me to look from a heightened perspective, my POV changes as they ascend the concrete steps. Each person marked by a different walk and speed. Accompanied by my music I sing out as loud as I can in my mind. I think of what the music means to me in that specific moment, I reflect on how it makes me feel. My spot on the ledge accompanied by my thoughts and music I am never alone. I can never run out of reflective material, I could daydream forever. As the winter chill approaches my spot begins to lose color and the vines begin to decay. Until Spring…          — Ethan

A Wishful Early Bird

I’ve never been a morning person. Never. My parents had to drag me out of bed when I was younger so I could make it to school before the 7:40am bell rang. But I’ve always wanted to be a morning person. Specifically, I’ve always wanted to be one of those people to get up at 5:00am and work out so, that’s exactly what I did this summer. I would set my alarm for 5:06am (I am very weird about what time I set my alarms at) and I would run to my gym, which was about a mile away, then continue my workout inside. I’m not much of a runner so one mile was good enough for me. On my short run, I would get to clear my mind and just enjoy the nature that little Fredonia had to offer. I would pass squirrels running around the plush green grass and look up to see birds perched on the telephone lines. I fell in love with that run and I miss it everyday I’m here. I guess I’d label myself as a “wishful early bird,” I enjoy getting up early and wish I did it more often but I will gleefully sleep in any chance I get. That being said, I did get up early this morning, the earliest I’ve gotten up since mid-August, to register for classes and went for a walk afterwards. That walk reminded me of my runs; I saw the same sights as back home and it really calmed me down. It’s exactly what I needed after a morning full of stress. I don’t know if the walk will be as calming everyday but it’s worth a shot.          — Rachel

On Lingering

In the last month I have found myself staring—unembarrassed—at the extraordinary evolution of Autumn here on Geneseo campus. Autumn, for me, evokes feelings like those in one of my favorite readings from my nature writing class: Robin W. Kimmerer’s “Witness to the Rain” in her book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Kimmerer’s desire to linger in an environment that sings beauty and growth and inspiration is something I’m working towards. As a full-time student, lingering is a choice I have to make very deliberately and with discernment; however, as an enthusiast of all things Autumn, I find it easier to linger. Walking out the main door of  my building, I am welcomed into a vibrant world of oranges, greens, reds, yellows, and purples. The vines on a building I pass have changed colors to resemble flames crawling along the outer wall. Cold wind and rain can’t stop this sickness-ridden college student from stopping in my tracks and smiling! I remember when I toured campus this past spring and how convinced I was that it was ugly. I visited in my least favorite season and it influenced my outlook; yet, now that I see this campus through a filter that I’m partial to, I can truly begin to recognize the beauty that was there all along. Perspectives are parts of my life, and probably most students’ lives, that tend to change in the season of college. A building that I wouldn’t typically observe, becomes the canvas for a blazing fire; and, a set of stairs that are quite unwelcoming in the morning, become a photograph of colors splashed across grey concrete.

Autumn at Geneseo, for me, has thus far been a time of refreshment.

          — Starr

A Must-See American Natural Wonder

Niagara Falls, seen from the American Side

Geneseo Family Weekend 2018. It was a Friday morning and my family was visiting me at school and I was very excited. It had been a full month since I was home and had seen them. At the ripe time of about 6:00 AM they woke up to drive four hours just to come and see me. Sweet of them right? We had some activities planned for the weekend and one I was particularly looking forward to was a trip to the small town of Niagara in Western New York.

I had never been to Niagara Falls before so this was a big deal for me. First, we arrived on Goat Island and then went to the lookout area. Words I would use to describe what I saw next include: Awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, spectacular, and I forgot the others because I was speechless. Later that day we took a boat tour on The Maid of the Mist that brings you to the bottom of the falls which was my favorite. For those who haven’t been, you are really missing out. Pictures do not do it justice.          — Katelyn Daniels

The Enlightenment of Sports

This past weekend, my girlfriend and I attended the Geneseo Women’s Soccer game against Brockport in the College Stadium. I wanted to attend this game due to the fact a friend from my hometown plays on the Brockport Women’s Soccer team. It was a nice experience to attend the game and watch her play. The Geneseo College Stadium is one of my favorite places to go on campus, because when I watch sporting events (especially soccer) it makes me feel energetic and happy. The atmosphere in the stadium is so enlightening: everyone there has some type of enjoyment for sports as I do.

As I watched the women’s soccer game, a very cold breeze came upon us and made my girlfriend and I very chilly. The cold breeze made our teeth clatter together throughout the game; the wind was very strong and made the trees around the stadium sway back and forth. As the game went on I realized that none of this mattered, sitting in a cold stadium and watching the ball going back and forth between both teams. It made think of when I used to play soccer on cold November afternoons in damp and cold weather. While watching the game, I thought of nothing but my love for the game of soccer and I just wished I could be out there playing alongside them. Finally, the game came to a close, the cold breezy wind continued and–this was something unexpected–it was one of the first time this autumn it had been chilly outside and we didn’t enjoy it. Although it was a windy and chilly day, every time I go to the College Stadium I find myself focused in on the game and never on what is around me.

Where the Wind Takes You

Wind turbine located in the SUNY Geneseo eGarden

After my long run this past Sunday I was walking back from the track to the locker room. The wind was so strong it brought tears to my eyes and it sent chills through my whole body. I’ve done this walk every Sunday since I’ve came to college and I’ve never noticed the windmill that stood by the track and playing fields on the lower North side of campus. This turbine was spinning so fast it created a rickety sound as it spun a million times around.

I paused for a moment and thought back to my experience with windmill the year before right around the time of deciding where to go to college. I was on my way traveling to the cross country pre-state meet in Rochester, NY when we passed a series of windmills. The bus driver was lost and my coach was trying to give him directions. After he attempted to help the bus driver he turned to the team and said “We are just going where the wind takes us.”

What my coach said, although it was meant to be funny, really stuck. I was confused when it came to deciding on a college and it just reminded me that, wherever I chose to go, everything would turn out okay. As I passed this windmill on Sunday it gave me a reassurance that I had made the right choice on going to Geneseo.

Just remember: go where the wind takes you.          — Laura Jackson