As the seasons change

Light snow on top of shrubs and trees at SUNY Geneseo

As a first-year student at SUNY Geneseo I’ve come to realize that there is much more than just academics that the school has to offer. While Geneseo is known as the “Ivy League of the SUNY’s” and its athletic program soars, it is also one of the most beautiful places to be year-round. When I arrived here in August the summer weather was almost perfect; the trees were a beautiful green and the sunsets were immaculate. Every night a new color would paint the sky and the Gazebo, located right in the middle of campus, was packed with students trying to capture the perfect picture for their snapchat stories. The Gazebo is one of my favorite places on campus, marked with names of past Geneseo students and placed in a spot that you can see for miles.

As the summer weather passed autumn was greeted with the slowly changing leaves that colored the campus with bright reds, yellows, and oranges. This is by far my favorite season and coming from a town in the middle of the mountains, I thought I would miss the scenery at home. However, after seeing the campus paths coated with falling leaves and looking out at the fields from the top of the hill, I’ve come to realize that Geneseo is just as pretty as it is at home. The squirrels on campus seem to multiply as they look for nuts that have fallen from the changing trees.

Now that weather has gotten colder, the trees have shed all their leaves and winter is slowly approaching. Though I usually resent the cold weather and snow, after seeing what it looks like on campus, I may have changed my mind. I feel it is the most beautiful calming look the campus has had so far and I can’t wait to see what spring has to offer. –Madison

A green campus

Three recycling bins are lined up against a wall

Students studying elementary education at SUNY Geneseo are required to study a specific concentration. On the spur of the moment at my advisement appointment during the first week of school, I decided to concentrate in environmental studies alongside my major. Ever since my decision, I have noticed myself becoming more conscientious about the environment due to the perspectives brought up throughout my classes.             

This semester I am taking both  Environmental Issues and Nature Writing, which have both coincidentally discussed some overlapping topics and ideas. Learning, analyzing, and discussing human-caused environmental impacts and aspects throughout nature have opened my eyes to our environmentally conscientious conditions.

Adjusting to shared bathrooms and bedrooms have compelled me to a more sustainable lifestyle. Before coming to Geneseo, I was blinded by how much I took advantage of having my own bedroom and bathroom. The luxury of taking my time in the shower and having more living space had distracted me from making “greener” choices. For example, the time I spent in the shower at home is more than double the time I spend in the shower at Geneseo. Knowing that other people could be waiting for an open shower fosters my ability to save water; it also has made me aware of the large amounts of water I must have been wasting back home. Onondaga Hall unintentionally motivates me to only drink from reusable cups and use real silverware, since my small living space prevents unnecessary wastes of space including plastic water bottles and utensils.

Full blue recycling bins and energy-saving sensor lights in most dining halls, dorms, academic buildings, and libraries are comforting to see when I pass by, because they demonstrate our active progress and environmentally conscious atmosphere throughout campus. I’ve also noticed that the technology established through Canvas has encouraged less paper in the classroom. Recognizing, adjusting, and managing printing fees and the hassle to find a printer on campus have effectively discouraged me from printing out unnecessary assignments like I used to.

My Nature Writing and Environmental Issues classes have enlightened me on my human contribution to the earth depletion and has increased my appreciation for nature around the world and on campus. –Jordyn

A beautiful valley

Most people don’t enjoy rainy days. If you stand at the top of the steps across from Mary Jemison Dining Hall, however, the view just can’t be beat. I have always been that one person who loves the rain. The sound, the smell, and the feeling all make a long day worth it. Looking out on the thick gray clouds, all I feel is peace. My journey here at SUNY Geneseo has not been an easy one, but the peaceful atmosphere and completely crazy squirrels make it worthwhile. Their tails twitch as they chase each other around the grass, and some are even open to getting close to you. On hard days, it’s nice to know there is always a peaceful place to stand, look, and breathe in the fresh air. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or just a little cloudy, the view at the top of those steps will always take your breath away. And when the sun sets, take a seat and enjoy the moment. —Riley

Autumn

As the leaves start to change color around me, I can’t help but think about my home. Having a house placed next to the highway 9A does not sound like the most ideal location for most people, but I don’t mind it. Trees create a natural barrier that separates the busy road from our yard. Behind the house is a woody area with a downslope leading to a cemetery. Two medium-size trees that have grown to almost the height of the house stand in front. My favorite time of year has always been autumn. The warm colors make me feel comfortable and tranquil. 

My dog can sit outside for hours and be perfectly content. The birds and rabbits don’t bother him; he doesn’t chase them away, so they join him in the yard. Looking out from a window at the scene, I feel the need to go out and join them. Most people would complain about the traffic’s noise, but I don’t even hear it; it is drowned out by the beautiful visuals near me. I feel privileged that I have access to this view so easily. I watch in admiration when my dog eventually gets up to walk around. Sometimes he only gets up to move to a different spot on the grass, which is cute except for when it is 2:00 in the morning. 

When the leaves fall down to create piles in the grass it feels bittersweet: while the piles of leaves look so beautiful, I am also reminded that this time of year is coming to an end. Now that I am at Geneseo, over five hours from home, I can look out into the beyond at the landscape with the colorful trees and feel at home. —Nicole

Echoes of a distant world

My dorm room in Niagara Hall is in an interesting location. It is nearly adjacent to the soccer field, so my roommate and I have the wonderful pleasure of being able to hear anything that goes on within and around the boundaries of the stadium. On Saturday mornings, I am woken up by music being blasted through the speaker system—it’s the same couple of songs, over and over and over. To be completely honest, I don’t even set an alarm anymore, because I know what’s coming. On weekday nights and afternoons, the jarring sounds of whistles and shouts become background noise to the millions of thoughts running through my mind. The little league soccer teams are going at it, the once-calm parents suddenly becoming crazed fans who cheer on their child’s every move. I can hear all of it… and usually, I can ignore it, tune it out. But sometimes, every once in a blue moon, when I’ve got nothing else on my mind except for empty thoughts about the future, I tune in.

Listening to the soccer field is weird because there’s a whole world down there that I’m not a part of. Some kid just scored a goal, and the crowd is going wild and the announcer is screaming “What a shot!” and I’m just sitting on my bed, unable to match these sounds to any one view. The soccer field is a movie without a screen, without images—it’s just audio, because of the line of trees that blocks my view. So I sit there on my bed and listen to the Geneseo soccer team practice, listen to their coach shout out drills and listen to the shrill whistle, and I can’t help but be reminded of when I was in 6th grade, and was the star of the soccer team. Times were simpler, more innocent. I went to school the next day after a game and bragged to my friends about the goal I scored, and they all looked at me like I was some kind of celebrity. Me! But now I am one of thousands, shuffling from class to dorm, a small fish in a big pond… happy with where I am, but wistful for the days that once were. —Anne

Home court

My favorite part of Geneseo’s campus is the outdoor basketball court on north campus. The court’s tread is blue, and the nets on several of the baskets are shredded. The court’s location is close enough to the dorms to feel like it is part of campus, yet close enough to the athletic fields and woods to make a game of basketball feel more natural and relaxing compared to the same game indoors. The sunlight outdoors can warm one up on a cool day, and the wind can cool one off on a warm day. The best part of the entire experience is the sunsets I see while playing. 

This court holds personal significance that predates my application to Geneseo. During my first visit here, I had few standards by which I judged colleges: campus layout, the quality of dorms,  the quality of dining halls and recreational opportunities. The blue-top court first caught my attention when I toured the school in the Fall of 2018. It was close to a lot of residence halls and I specifically remember telling my parents that the court would be the factor that made me choose this school. 

Fast Forward to my first day at Geneseo… as fate would have it, I ended up at the outdoor basketball court. Had I not played on that court the first weekend, I would not have met some of my best friends here. The outdoor court will always hold a special place in my heart; the fact that I can go there and always make new friends speaks to the importance of sports and the reach basketball has beyond being just a game. That–and the aforementioned reasons–is why the outdoor court is my favorite place on campus.

Sustainable Kindness

Throughout high school, I have dedicated most of my time volunteering with special needs individuals. I had the privilege to work with a six-year-old girl who, when she saw another child on a field trip, would run up and quickly announce her name, take out all of the toys she had brought with her, and begin to play with the child she had just met. I also worked with a teenager having limited verbal skills, who nevertheless was able to give you the best hugs and root for you better than a cheerleader ever could. I volunteered at Camp Anchor, where an adult would greet me every time with a handshake: “How was your day?” “How are you feeling?” What I have observed throughout my time volunteering is that in the life skills community, kindness is not just a simple “one and done” type deal; it is a way of life. All these people that I have mentioned live their lives through love, and have a surplus of love to give to every person they encounter. Their kindness is sustainable, maintained at such a high level not only as children, but through adolescents and adulthood as well.

Self-care, like the environment, is not solely dependent on the direct influences in your surroundings. Flowers do not bloom where there are no seeds planted. They are spread through the pollination of bees or the animals around them. Once finding their homes in the soil or water, it is the care and conditions of the soil, air, water, and overall nature that helps form the full plant. The sustainability of kindness acts similarly. Children are like the bees and animals, the care and conditions. Once you come in contact and experience the love of the life skills community, you begin to grow. I honestly feel that if we all adopted kindness as a way of life, the world would be a better place. –Hannah

Connections

Welles Hall at SUNY Geneseo, seen in near-silhouette

What is it about nature writing that reminds me of geography? Geography is a discipline I have come to love as a student at Geneseo. It has opened my eyes and made me fall in love with the environment around me and has therefore given me a greater appreciation for earth and its hidden beauty. But what is geography? Simply put, it is a multifaceted discipline that connects humans to the world and vice versa. It analyzes the physical side of the world as well as its human, social side. As I was choosing courses for this semester, I was informed to take the introductory writing seminar that the college requires. I wanted to take a course that I would be able to understand and find passion in as I did with my other geography courses. The one interrelated idea I can take away from both nature writing and geography is the interconnectedness with nature and the human population–how nature is in everything. It’s everywhere you look, from the trees to the cellphone in your hand to the sidewalk you walk on. In this is a sense of discovery for what it’s like to be on the other side of nature: to be able to see the world’s relationships from the human eye. The human connection to nature is undeniably positive nor negative as it influences the way nature behaves. As humans we often overlook this phenomenon since it is so common and mundane in daily life, but I encourage everyone to take a step back and appreciate the way nature and humans interact in the everyday environments surrounding us. We should be inclined to find the deeper meaning of nature while appreciating its beauty. The ability to deeply define and relate these experiences and relationships to living an interconnected life through nature writing is an amazing skill that I am sure to take with me long after this semester is finished. –Gabby N.

I should have made a longer playlist

Aerial view of Los Angeles freeways and interchange

This summer I found myself spending most of my weeks in Laguna Beach, California. Originally, I was going to write this post about the beach and all the clichés that come with it, but rarely do we write about the endless freeways, the express lanes that somehow still manage to get backed up, or the days where the mountains can’t be seen in the smog.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the directions from my mom’s house in Redlands to Laguna. She lives 60 miles away, so ideally it should take an hour of driving to get there, or much less if you drive 85 mph until you see a cop. But in true Southern Californian fashion, as of 6:35 AM Pacific, it takes an hour and 53 minutes to get to Laguna on the CA-91. It takes two hours and 16 minutes on the I-10.

With my driving record, I rarely drove, which left me with hours of staring at charred trees from one of the many forest fires on the toll roads to Irvine. The traffic extended to the toll roads. Imagine paying to sit in traffic. The canyon into Laguna is much worse: the two-lane highway narrows into one lane, and suddenly everyone forgets how to merge. But the canyon is also one of the prettier sights on the drive through, its dried grass giving off a golden glow. I always try to reach for the sunflowers on the side of the road, but I have yet to succeed. 

It would be a lie to say I don’t mind the traffic, but I can appreciate it slowing down my life just enough to look at things I normally speed past. –Tanya

Morrow’s Honeysuckle

Group of students poses with invasive plants they have pulled

Roemer Arboretum, on South Side, is a wonderful place to visit on campus. The peace one feels when walking through the densely wooded path is hard to put into words. Although this peace is felt by us, it is not felt by the plant growth. Recently, the forests in and around the Geneseo campus have been facing a problem–invasive species. These plants and animals have slowly been eating away at the shrubbery in New York, and killing off the native species of the region. From emerald ash borers to the hemlock woolly adelgid, the list goes on and on. One species that is an evident problem, especially in the Arboretum, is called “Morrow’s honeysuckle”. Native to Asia, it was brought here purposely as “an ornamental plant, for erosion control, and for wildlife forage and cover”. However, it ended up taking over areas, out-competing the native plants and becoming a dense cover on the forest floor.

A call to action was recently announced, and students on the Geneseo campus were asked to help remove these invasives from the Arboretum. Taking up the opportunity, my peers and I were supplied with tools and started the cleanup. This process was not easy; the plants were about my height and had thick roots that clung to the soil. The seeds on the plant were an issue too: sharp needles on their outer covering clung onto my shirt firmly. Eventually, after our grueling cleanup, the area was empty, and we were able to replant this land with small native species. This part was calming, and being able to transfer these fragile plants into little holes we dug was satisfying. The hard work we did paid off, and we were able to step back and look at this new “garden” we created, which will hopefully last for a while. We then lightly covered the area in mulch and called it a day.

Being involved with this cleanup opened my eyes to the fact that students on campus need to take action with problems, whether they be minor or major. Although we replanted a small portion of the Arboretum, this is a step towards the complete removal of invasive species and a return to a more natural environment. I’m hoping to involve myself further in another cleanup in the future, and I urge every student to do the same. –Carlo Tobia