Breath of Clarity

Nature Notes I

On Wednesday (March 5), I went to observe the tree directly behind the Memorial Union/Picnic Point distance sign on the Lakeshore path at 1:30PM. This tree is the thickest tree in the area, but still stands strong and beautiful amidst the six inches of snow on the ground. There are no leaves on the tree, with the consideration that there is still snow on the ground and the weather doesn’t permit. The bark is worn down; pieces are breaking off, especially at the bottom near the roots because the wet snow makes it mushy. The wet texture of the tree makes it a darker brown color compared to when it’s dry in the summer or fall. The white snow that glows from the sunlight compliments the brownish-gray branch color. The quietness makes this spot really peaceful. Even though the area feels still and stable, it is not completely silent. There is a soft sound of the wind- different from the days when the breeze is overwhelming. It’s actually quite soothing. The space tastes refreshing, as my dry throat is exposed to the cold air. In contrast, the tree smells quite displeasing because the wet snow is combined with the bark. This is such a preserved and naturalistic area on campus that it feels undisturbed aside from the sidewalk built in to allow for efficient transportation. Still, the space is not crowded because in this season individuals will not sacrifice the dealing with the cold weather to enjoy the beautiful scenery, especially when this space is accessible year-round. The uniqueness of the tree can only be noticed if an individual evaluates its intricacy.

This specific tree really caught my eye because of its size. For this reason, I thought there would be a lot to discuss in my Nature Notes assignment. After observing it for a long period of time, though, I was wrong. What made this tree so interesting was its texture. The worn down texture reminded me that this Lakeshore Path is such an icon at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The tree’s specific location behind the distance-marking sign represents all of the students who value health and fitness and take time to work their bodies. It taught me that nature could serve as a representation of respected history and change over time. The concept that the tree still stands strong and tall, despite all of the snowy and windy days makes it even more beautiful. Nature is so purely fascinating because of its humble existence. We need to devote more attention to nature’s beauty on a regular basis. It’s not until we are forced to stop and observe it for an extended period of time that we notice its value.

This activity definitely relates to our study of evolution in Biology 101 because the rugged surface of the tree illustrates change over time. This tree is also a stellar example of the way that individuals interact with the environment, the essence of what we studied in the ecology unit. Humans decide to build a sidewalk next to a beautiful area with the idea that people running and walking will focus their attention on the natural beauty. In our recent study of chemistry, we can think about the reasons why the bark combined with the snowy water produced the mushy texture reaction. We can also consider that animals and plants mostly occupy the space because there are no predominant human resources in the area such as food and shelter. So, this is why humans aren’t attracted to this area and don’t make it their niche. This explains the quietness of the area on a winter day. On the other hand, animals are attracted to this area because other animals live there who play a major role in the food chain. Evaluating this space ultimately made me think of our study of macroevolution and the interconnectedness of different life forms.