Our thanks to students from Prof. Ed Gillin’s course as they explained what it’s like to construct a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin. Planing, notching, scrounging, organizing—a lot of work has gone into this simple structure! Visit the Thoreau-Harding Project website to learn more.
When sitting in class or outside, leaning on a tree with nice breeze blowing past your face, it is often common for one’s mind to wander. The place that one might find their “zone out space” could be quite different depending on the person. For me, I often find myself thinking toward nature and all of the millions to billions of things that could be happening at the exact moment I am staring off toward the Genesee Valley. The amount of things that other people could be are doing at this exact moment: someone being born, someone dying, someone getting the best news in the world, getting fired, getting hired, and of course millions and millions of more. The possibilities are beyond what an 18 year college student can even close to fathom. Even excluding humans, just imagining the sheer amount of things happening in the animal world every minute or second around the entirety of the world is completely impossible to wrap my head around, yet this is where my mind attempts to go. Attempting to conjecture the various things that may be going on while I sit in a small Gazebo in Geneseo New York, sipping on coffee, watching the sunset as a set of small birds fly past. Some people might find their mind taking them to a peaceful white beach or a fond memory of their past, but mine tirelessly finds itself looking to the beyond, in an state of out of body thought, trying to understand the bigger picture of all things in life and imagine the possibilities of lives beyond my own. If I found myself to be a lion in the Amazon what would be my main worry or priority? I figure it wouldn’t be a pile of homework stacking on a desk somewhere but most likely where I would find my next meal or the next place I would stay for shelter. I find myself thinking about this when I need time to put my own issues in perspective. I also believe that this is indeed why we “space out”: so we can take our issues or stresses, put them into perspective and find a place where those issues are so much smaller or insignificant. So take the time to zone out and find, if you have yet to, your “zone out space.” –Connor
It is a wonderful feeling to realize that you have met someone that you can be authentic around. I met that person two weeks into entering college. We both felt the connection and I knew I found a true friend. We have spent many hours during the night having extended conversations about anything and everything that we want. We share personal secrets that not many other people know about us.
One topic we both have found ourselves talking about somewhat often is the type of weather we enjoy the most. Having both been from Long Island and having our view of stars be somewhat limited, the first time we went on a walk at night was unforgettable. We could each see three times as many as we were used to seeing back home. We basked in the glory of it and then continued our walk, stealing glances at the sky twinkling lightly back at us.
Moments like those and the conversations following is how I explained that anything to do with the sky has always fascinated me. Sunrise. Sunset. Clouds. Sheets of rain. The moon and stars. Anything! I adore seeing how it can look different every single time I see it. He would tease me for how excited I would get any time the sky changed colors or I saw the moon for the first time that night. Regardless, it would place a large smile on my face and make me want to jump up and down, screaming about how much I love the sky. He began to tell me that one of his favorite types of weather to see is fog. He gushed about how fog is so unique and interesting. We discussed how many emotions the fog alone can evoke in a person.
After the few weeks I have spent at school, I have noticed that many people sit by the gazebo and watch the sunset every night. This particular night, we planned on going to that exact gazebo for the first time to watch a beautiful sunset only to find out that it began raining right around the time we were meant to watch. The sky was covered with clouds and we were certain that it would not be worth it to travel in the rain just to be disappointed. So we sat around until we glanced out of the window and saw the soft orange sky. We both began sprinting out into the rain, attempting to get to the gazebo as quickly as possible. We eventually made it under beneath the protection of the roof. We both became speechless in awe as we stared out at a multi-color sky while hazy fog began to surround the ground. The combination of our favorite natural things, in addition to the rain dripping off of the gazebo’s edges, took our breath away. We stood and basked in each other’s company for almost an hour. We watched people rush through the unexpected rain, only few with umbrellas handy. Once the sky settled into a consistent color, we began to head out into the rain once again and move along with our nights, much more at peace than before. –Sydney
In the Tesla house we take the Nature Writing class which Geneseo offers and it has honestly been a very new and exciting experience so far. First of all, sometimes we go outside during class, which has been really fun with all of the warm weather. It is a very interesting take on writing, and I have enjoyed the class so far. It is interesting in that you have to look at nature in new ways and notice more.
The other day, we went outside to take a closer look at how heat can be described. For example, you could write “It is hot in the sun,” or you could say “the sunbeams pelted down on me and wrapped me in a blanket of heat.” It was an amazing day to be outside and I started to notice more about the outdoors, what the sun felt like, and the contrast between the warm air and the cool ground. Then we went back inside and shared some of our ideas. It was overall a really cool experience because I got to hear about my classmate’s ideas and perceptions of what heat and the outdoors felt like. –Nicole
Who doesn’t love getting stuff in the mail? Since I’ve started living here at Geneseo, I’ve gotten quite a few deliveries. For example: the belts I forgot at home, new running shorts, shower shoes, and a 10-inch apple-sour cream-walnut pie. Yes, you read that right. I really did receive a pie with that many key components.
When I first opened up this concoction from my sweet mother, a small wave of dread washed over me. My initial thoughts were “Is this going to fit in my mini-fridge?”, and “How am I going to eat all of this?”
Well, as I stared at the pie taking up the entire top shelf of my fridge, I started to hatch a plan. This pie would have get eaten by the power of college students’ insatiable appetites.
That Saturday night, my roommate and I got to work. My flimsy plastic knife created gooey slices to be placed on napkins. The typical soft-speaking sounds of the halls were replaced with my roommate calling out, “Does anybody some pie?!”
Slowly, the hungry folk of my building came trickling in. A new face sat down with us and told us it was his first time ever eating apple pie. Three energetic friends used their slices as energy for their study-break dance party. A gaggle of guys rambled in and requested big pieces, to which we happily obliged. Eventually, one of our RA’s came down to take the final slice.
At the end, the pie tin was clean. I could see my face in it! So ‘reflecting’ on this experience, I’m pretty sure there’s no better way to get to know your environment is by sharing some yummy food with new people. And everybody loves pie! — Tess
Welcome to the Nature Writing blog, a space where members of our Fall 2015 writing seminar occasionally will share portions of works-in-progress, responses to course readings, provisional ideas: the daily work of paying attention. Although Geneseo is surrounded by natural beauty, some of the places we’ll write about don’t fit necessarily fit into that familiar aesthetic. But as Jenny Price has written of rivers re-engineered into “concrete flood control channels,” they no longer look “wild enough to be a river or to count as nature at all,” and so really the first step is “to see the nature in the place. You have to find it.” And that’s where we’ll begin! –Ken C.