At around twelve noon, I layered up in a sweatshirt and leg warmers, threw on my jacket and hood and slipped on my winter boots and left the Christiana East Tower to embark on the journey. I knew exactly where I’d be going.
“So, I’m currently walking to the spot; I knew automatically what that spot was going to be, because last semester I ran to it every weekend. It’s kind of one of those places after a long run that you can just stop and breathe and look at it, and it makes you feel so accomplished and small and that the world is so big. I like being alone, traveling to my location by myself. I’ll do this every time. Today is February thirteenth, and we just had a snowstorm overnight. It looks like about ten inches, but I don’t know if that’s an exaggeration. All I know is that my way to get there (I guess this place is in White Clay Creek Park) is through paths in the woods for at least some of the time. Obviously, nobody shoveled them since the storm, so I’m walking in the footsteps of other people, or another person. It’s strange because they’ve already left their mark in the snow, and I’m restricted in my navigation to go to trek in their impressions. How impersonal. Now I’ve hit the road, which it looks like they’ve plowed.
“I just ran into two people, two men, the first since I’ve been walking about fifteen minutes. You have to wonder, why are they walking? Probably not for the same reason as me, to make a journal, but it’s kind of nice to see how they want to get out in all of this. In all the slush and all the cold, everyone else wants to stay inside.
“In this walk I’ve decided to bring my phone only for recording purposes and to check the time, and also not to listen to any music. I’m going to utilize this time, or devote it, to unwind and think and listen to the sounds of nature. This is all very valuable; I started to read a book called “Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit” about quieting your life, reconnecting with yourself and the earth, and meditating. I didn’t finish the book but I read this really interesting part about how just walking to anywhere you’re going more slowly really has a way of unwinding you and keeping you grounded. With this idea went observing the things around you as you walk. That’s how I want to start living. If I can have these little moments to unwind, stay grounded, and keep my head in the right place, I think I’ll be alright through a stressful semester.
“I’m at the end of the road and have reached a path on the side that will lead me to the bridge overlooking my spot.
(A silent pause)
“I’m on the bridge, which is made of iron, now heavily rusted, and wood, which I know constitutes the bottom under all the snow. If I look left and right through the bridge’s railings downward and up, there is a slow-moving, wide stream. I know there’s another name for a body of water that’s almost entirely stagnant, and definitely doesn’t move as fast as a stream. Is that a brook? Does this affect what’s able to inhabit and survive in the water? There’s a guy on a snowmobile that’s almost ruining my first view of this place, but I’ll try to ignore him. I can’t ignore the track marks he makes in the snow in the distance, though, or the noise pollution.
“The trail that led me to the bridge continues on in the distance, flanked by none other than a bright yellow pole (like the ones at the end of bike paths). Human infiltration. I can’t help but to think that even though this at first seems like a beautiful, untouched piece of nature, after all I am standing on a bridge built over the stream and I do see mountain-set houses and “No Parking” signs on trees in the distance. This stupid yellow pole, and another red one next to another little bridge that crosses a more narrow part of the stream, is really distracting, so are the “No Parking” and “Speed Limit” signs stabbed into the side of the road. The road, constructed by humans. It all feels very open.
“The water isn’t frozen; it has this slushy snow in it that makes it look like it could be frozen but it’s only inches of half-melted snow blocking the top. The snow is dirty, but I like that. I hear the tweeting of other birds high and distance in the trees. I hear many geese; I see two flying in the air and quacking(?) and almost three dozen more swimming slowly in the part of the stream that’s almost completely still and clear. This shows me that there’s still life in the water, despite the storm. Things live on because they have nowhere else to go. It’s funny that, when settled in the water, the geese are so quite amongst each other. It reminds me of a group of strangers forced to sit amongst each other in a closed room, not talking, only doing their own things and living quietly on despite the company.
“Under the bridge are extremely thin, fragile pieces of ice that are elegantly gliding and moving on the top of the water, so delicate that pretty soon they’re just going to dissolve into the water or hit a twig and break into a million pieces. There’s a soft wind blowing, yet everything is surprisingly and remarkably still. I feel like snow usually does this. The part of the stream that’s mostly covered by snow is unmoving, and there’s nothing on it. There is, though, the constant and perfect rippling of the water, as if there was a speaker in the water vibrating it in a steady beat and in all different directions, yet in directions that met back with one another. Maybe because it’s getting too warm but the snow on the top of the railing of the bridge is starting to melt, sending drop after drop of water downward.
“I just heard a rustle in the woods, but I’m not sure where it’s coming from, it’s either another person (one just walked by) or a deer, which would be really cool to see. This makes me think back to the geese, and something I’d like to look up is what the hell geese do when a body of water is completely frozen. Where do they go? I know they’re land animals too, but what if a lake or pond or stream is completely frozen over for an extended period of time: do they need to get in the water again? Is the water ever too cold for them; do they freeze to death if, because the water is too cold, they’re forced to stay out of it? A simple answer to all of this is they fly south, duh. But why are these ones here?
“Today I’m only going to view this spot and the stream from the bridge, but probably make my way down below, where I’ll walk around in rain boots and get dirty, within the next few weeks. I want to poke around the banks and study the plants and other life there, which I can’t even see from here let alone because of the snow. There’s not much else I’m noticing right now, partially because a lot of things are covered in white. I do see, though, this strange fenced-in metal box (for electricity, for water treatment or diversion of some sort?) and another metal cylinder/barrel next to it. I’d like to find out what these weird objects are, and why they’re placed literally right next to the stream on the bank, and so close to the geese. I really hate these things already, and can tell they’re really going to piss me off when I see them every week.
“I’m happy with how my first encounter’s gone. I don’t know how deep the stream is, but maybe I’ll look it up and/or just get in it myself and see. Should I try to walk across it for my last journal? Should I run some water quality tests on this stream if I can get my hands on the right equipment while I’m at it? I’ve done a huge water quality project before. What chemicals run into this water; if the stream runs dry will they fill it or knock down this bridge and build a road over it? Anyways, my boots are soaked through and I can say I’ve seen enough for today. Hopefully next time the snow will be gone, and I can see how everything’s held up under it.”
Note: Here’s some information I found about the descendants of migratory geese in Canada that have no biological need to migrate during the winter: (hopefully, this applies to Delaware?)
Unfortunately, the geese born as a result of the Canada geese repopulation effort do not have the imperative to nest in Canada since they are born here. Resident geese nest here, where their ancestors were forced to nest. And since the climate is temperate in our area and the water bodies do not freeze for long periods of time, the resident Canada geese have no need to fly south to find open water and grass in the winter. Although in harsh weather they will fly south for the short periods of time needed to find open water. Migratory geese nest in Canada because that is where they were born.
Even when it is 10 degrees Fahrenheit, as long as the geese can find open water, they stay warm. The water is 32 degrees and the geese have down on their bellies and chest which insulates them from the cold water.
Also: To minimize the loss of heat, the arteries and veins in the legs of
the geese lie in contact with each other and function as a
countercurrent heat exchange system to retain heat. Arterial blood
leaves the birds’ core (trunk) at body temperature, while venus
blood in the feet is quite cool. As the cool blood returns toward the core,
heat moves by conductance from the warm arteries into the cool veins.
Thus, arterial blood reaching the feet is already cool and venous blood
reaching the core has already been warmed. While the core temperature
of a goose standing on ice is about 104 degrees F, its feet may be only
slightly above freezing.