Finding Our Place, by Andrew Brenner

As I marched through my usual routine of climbing a monstrous hill in order to get to my beloved tree stump, I spotted 3 white tail deer. Upon being discovered, the mother took action instantaneously, nervously catching up to her two children. She continued ahead, instructing her young to follow behind closely, guiding them to safety. But one stayed put. Looking back, we locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity. I am not sure if it was out of fear or curiosity, but he seemed to be captivated by my presence. He then eventually hurried off, into the tree line, to join his family


Soon after, I found myself sitting upon my dear stump. With the soothing sound of flowing water in my ear, it was honestly difficult to keep myself from dozing off after such a journey. But I soon came to my senses and began keenly observing and listening to my surroundings. There was a plethora of plant life covering my back, nearly wrapping me up. This gives me a welcoming feeling.


There is a whole variety of life surrounding me at the moment. From the squirrels racing across the broken logs of trees carrying their gathered nuts, to the birds hovering overhead looking for their next catch. I see that there are many hunts and journeys being played out everywhere I look. It’s quite intriguing to think how all beings have their own individual narrative, however we are all a part of the same story. It is as if we all have our own line of thread and we are stringing together a wondrous quilt.


In the foreword of A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold proceeds to state: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” This quote really hit home for me. The key word being COMMUNITY. We are but a small wave in a vast cosmic ocean. However, as a species this wave has begun to grow tremendously, and if we continue as we have, we will soon hit land. This impact will be devastating. Not only will this beautiful planet be spoiled, but our wave too will ultimately come crashing down.



I have been thinking a lot about the idea of harmony in individuals. Particularly how each cell in the human body carries out its individual function. These cells continuously come and go, performing their assigned duties in order to keep you, as a whole, sustained. Unfortunately, once in a while, there may come a time when a cancerous cell begins to grow and multiply much too rapidly. The cell expands with no regard for anything around it. Its vision is too short sighted to see that this route will surely bring about its own demise. Of course along with it, the destruction of the entire organism.


The human race is this cancer. We have attempted many treatments, but all seem to fall short. We must act swiftly if we are to catch it in time. More often than not, assumptions are made that someone with a novel idea will come along in the future and fix our problem at hand. But what we are facing ought to be dealt with today. What we need is a major paradigm shift. We must find our place in nature for the betterment of the planet, and ourselves.

Perspectives, by Olivia Linehan

After walking to my spot today, I decided I would focus in on the White Clay Creek itself. I sat down on the rocky bank and just watched the water. I watched as it ran over the rocks, I listened as it gurgled and crept between the rocks, I felt it as it fell over my toes. As I watched the creek flow by, I thought of a quote I used, in an analysis essay of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, junior year. It was a Henry David Thoreau quote that reads: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”. I realized how applicable this quote was to observation. At first glance, all I was looking at was a creek. There is nothing noticeably special about White Clay Creek, it plainly looks like most small rivers that flow through the woods of the East Coast. However, when I thought beyond what I was looking at, and began to think about what I saw, my perspective changed.


I first saw the small water bugs darting across the surface of the creek, quickly scooping up the small pieces of grass that were blown into the water, then just as quickly spitting them back out when they realized the grass was not something they wanted to eat. Suddenly, the creek became not just flowing water, but a home. Next I saw a Great Blue Heron, landing down in the water and focusing in to catch it’s evening meal… now the creek was a source of food. I looked far to my left, where the water was still, and saw an almost exact image of the horizon that was lit up by the setting sun. With glowing pink clouds set against a soft purple background,the creek had become a reflection of the sky. All at the same time the creek was a multitude of things.


I looked again, this time deeper into the water and what I saw now was a little different. What originally looked like rocks sitting at the bottom of the water, I realized were actually chunks of broken up cement. That further out in the water the chunks of cement were larger, causing the water to pool in ways it wouldn’t naturally. Now, the creek then became a victim of man’s expansion. Finally but thinking about what I saw and not what was just there to look at, it occurred to me that the creek could be seen as a miniature version of the world itself.


In a way, the creek is not so different from the three Hawaiian islands, mentioned in Food Fight, that find themselves victim to the large agricultural companies Syngenta, Dow and Monsanto. These islands are a home and they are a source of food, just like White Clay Creek. They are a source of life, plant, animal and human, just like the creek. Yet, just like White Clay Creek, they find themselves permanently altered by human impact. White Clay Creek,  can flow freely, but will never flow quite the same as it did before a dam was built across it’s body. Even after that dam was destroyed it’s existence is remembered through the creek’s changed flow. The three islands in Hawaii will always feel the impact of the chemicals that have been sprayed across their lands for years. Even after the fields are done being used and abandoned, Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto will still have left their footprint in the form of soil, water and air contamination.


At 7:30pm I left my spot by White Clay Creek, and as I walked down the path back to my car, I realized how much of life and nature I am just looking at but never actually seeing. I thought about all my own ignorance to what was happening around me. And while I can’t change what my past perspectives were, I decide I need to choose to focus my energy towards the future.

Of Mother Nature, Men, and Mythologies, by Abi Vanover

Shortly after I began my walk to the woods, I passed a cedar tree. I stopped and broke off a small twig, inhaling deeply. Cedar trees had begun to take on a special significance for me during my summer in Michigan, when someone I loved there told me about his love for cedar trees. I know the shape of their branches and their smell now; for as long as I remember them I think I’ll remember my memories of him.

I noticed more of my surroundings as I walked. A fat tabby cat sunning in a driveway, pawprints frozen in concrete, wild onions growing in many yards (how did they get there? Are they like Kentucky bluegrass, spread by “the particular mixture of forces represented by the cow, plow, fire, and axe of the pioneer”?). The closer I walked to the woods, the more birds I began to hear in the distance, replacing the singular drone of cicadas. I was close to my spot by the water when a fox ran across my path, red and almost fat. It felt auspicious.

I arrived at my spot and settled in for my watch. There was a dragonfly skimming low over the water, chasing all the tiny ripples. I could hear a bullfrog further upriver, and the sounds of two catbirds going back and forth. I could hear and see leaves drop around me, and irregular plinks as acorns dropped from the big oak tree a few yards away. It reminded me of Indiana, where my yard was full of oaks, and the sound of acorns hitting the ground almost sounded like the steady patter of rain. As I watched, I saw two squirrels race down the trunk, chittering.

At this point I noticed I was frequently itching my right thigh. It wasn’t just the cedar tree that reminded me of Michigan—so did the mosquito bites that were rapidly swelling. I took a breath and willed myself not to itch. It was of course easier said than done.

There was a sandbar close to my spot, littered with dead oak leaves. I walked out onto it, the water flowing past me. I saw a frog swim away from me underwater—this was my first time seeing a frog kick on an actual frog. I kneeled on the ground and peered closer at the water to see what insect was making all those tiny ripples. They had long silver bodies and were using their legs to propel themselves along the surface of the water. I would later learn they were called water-striders, aptly enough. I also saw a single white feather floating on the water next to a cluster of dead leaves. Maybe it was a light summer feather, shed in preparation for colder days to come?

As I prepared to leave, a single dead oak leaf floated down in front of me. It was then only fitting that the first tree I noticed as I walked home was a holly tree, it’s leaves sharp and its berries still green.

There are many legends and myths about nature across almost all human cultures. In Christianity, men have dominion over all things plant and animal; “Abraham knew exactly what the land was for; it was to drip milk and honey into his mouth.” In old Ireland the Oak King and the Holly King trade places throughout the Wheel of the Year (marked by the equinoxes); when all oak leaves die, the holly berries turn green. In Norse mythology, the squirrel Ratatosk runs down Yggdrasil, the tree of life, carrying messages between the heavens and the underworld.

Nature was written into the very fabric of humanity, placed alongside all that is holy. Today we’re playing Prometheus, putting poison into corn and children’s bodies, and clouds of toxic dusts waft across Kauai—volcano goddesses used to be worshiped there. Now the primary religion is capitalism.

I continued to walk, thinking about the upcoming equinox. I had written August on accident at the top of my page, thinking about summer while it’s almost fall. I passed another holly tree, and I wondered what the ne

The Power of Water, by Allison Herskovitz

The place where land meets water has always been an important and valued location. Mesopotamia, one of the first recorded civilizations, arose between two rivers, the Euphrates and Tigris. Here the people found an area capable of sustaining all life. They had water to drink, someplace to bathe, and irrigation for their crops. Not only were humans able to survive near this water source, but so was all of nature. Plants and animals thrived in close proximity to this water supply.

This piece of history comes to mind when in front of me I see a copper-toned river that looks much clearer today than it did last week. I see the possibility of growth in and around this water. Like those Mesopotamians, I know how important and valuable water is in my own life. I feel safe by this body of water and I also know it connects with other water sources that provide for my needs and the needs of others.  This narrow creek is quiet and poses no threat to me. I see how it nourishes plants and small animals. I am fortunate. Living close to a reliable water source is something to enjoy and be grateful for, but I also know that there is a power to all water that is something to fear.

In the past month, our country and island nations south of the U.S., have been hit twice with very powerful hurricanes. Water has poured hour after hour through streets, demolishing buildings, roads, and trees. Families have lost their animals, their possessions, and their homes; some have even had loved ones taken from them. Looking now at this peaceful creek in front of me, I am taken back by how something so calming can become something so harmful. I only see the growth and nourishment this creek brings to all of nature around me; yet on TV, I see image and image of how charging water destroys a natural environment and takes away the lives and livelihoods of others. Beautiful creeks can turn into weapons of destruction. Nervous for what the future may hold, I ask myself what caused this and why is no one trying to prevent such a devastating thing from happening?

In A Sand County Almanac, the author Leopold describes a land ethic as the affirmed right for resources, such as soil, water, plants, and animals, to continue to exist.

“This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the largest and most beautiful species.”


Leopold goes on to say that although we may recognize that it is bad to destroy the environment, people do not understand the consequences of its destruction, and therefore are negligent and do nothing to change their behavior. He says: “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”

The hurricanes that we are seeing this month are at least partially due to a lack of that harmony and the horrid actions of humans towards their environment. One of those actions involves our use of coal and oil. As we continue to increase the amount of fossil fuels that we use, we expand the “greenhouse effect.”  The increased amount of greenhouse gasses that are trapped in the earth’s atmosphere then causes temperatures to rise. In simplest terms, these hurricanes are caused by warm air rising, pushing the colder air down, and going into a cycle of high to low pressure, causing a cyclone effect. Conservation of the land cannot occur when ‘men’ are working against the environment. Hurricanes that bring the terrible destruction of floods is just one consequence of our failure to protect our environment and it resources.

The creek in front of me, and the land around it are important. I need to value how they impact my life and how they live in harmony with ‘man.’  The hurricanes this month are a reminder of that. Since ancient times water has been a vital strength in our world, but the power and destruction of these recent hurricanes demonstrates how that strength can turn against us; our actions and lack  of concern for environmental harmony can help turn water into a very dangerous threat. It is important to be aware of how we treat the world around us, because it will in turn treat us the same.

A Silent Respect, by Madison Thune

Walking along the bridge over White Clay Creek, my mind races with anxiety yet again.  About the four English classes I have gotten myself into this semester.  About how to balance being a student, a Resident Assistant, and a Deltone.  I have never before had so many obligations and so many responsibilities in my life; and in the place where I should be tranquil I am anything but.  When I finally pick a spot that seems as though it will clear my mind, I sit and wait for it to.  I realize that I am the subject of my story.  I see now that I expect my surroundings to help me instead of letting them be my surroundings.

Now of course a tree cannot give me its branch of a shoulder to cry on, but I wanted that. I was too deaf in those moments to accept the lullabies of birds attempting to soothe me.  I have been blind to the paintings that Earth has given my mind to ponder about.  Leopold writes about “Thinking Like a Mountain” instead of being the subject.  He asks us to step back from everything around us and accept it as simply something we are a part of, not something we are looking down upon.  Leopold writes about the sound of wolves howling and the reactions of the community around them as perspective of the mountain.  In Thinking Like a Mountain, the passage highlights the importance of balance within the society that is “wild”.  He explains that selfish habits or putting yourself as the subject could have damaging repercussions that are difficult to foresee.  “Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.”  Leopold knows that the mountain truly takes in its surroundings as they are, and acts as all knowing about the actions and reactions that occur around it.  The mountain does not fall victim to the selfishness of life.

As I sit in my spot and think of the mountains, I try to be like one too.  I clear my mind of the unnecessary and start to take in all of my surroundings.  I open my mind to everything around me and close it to everything not.  At first I only see trees.  Nothing significant to me stands out, except the fact that they are trees.  Then I start to wonder about their lives and what they have seen throughout it.  What kind of peace does it bring to the forest, just like the mountain brings peace over its slopes?  How many of its like has it mourned as we annihilate them for our own products of consumption?  I wonder if the tree is staring at me just like I it, and I wonder what it thinks of me.  Does it see me just as the fact of my being?  Or does it wonder why I am there?  Or whether or not I am going to hurt the beings that it protects under the cloud of leaves?  I like to think that the tree is like the mountain.  The tree does not ask for anything from the life that surrounds it, the tree just is.  The tree takes what it needs in order to give all that it can.  So there it stands, only to sway and watch over the beings that scurry around it.  Watching them use its labor, watching them leave as it is rooted and becomes bare.  I wonder how the tree stays calm in this ever-changing circle.

I hope one day I become a tree.  To stand steady and rooted as I, and everything around me changes.  I think that I have potential; as I prove to myself each time I am outside here.  Although I come with a heavy mind, I am able to quiet myself from the outside world and focus on the now.  Focus on thinking like a mountain.  Like a tree.  As I sit in my spot admiring its peaceful smile, it passes it along to me.  A wave of calm comes over me because I know that the tree is telling me to be still.  The tree is showing me that even with all the commotion around, it is possible to just be.

I hope one day I become a tree, but for now I am still a sapling.

Beach Folk, by Maggie Siegfried

Labor Day called for an impromptu trip to the beach. I had never been to any Delaware beaches before today, and to be totally honest I’m not a huge beach goer. I’ve always loved the beach, but I don’t come from the kind of family that packs beach chairs and coolers for a day of sweating and sand. My parents can never stand to be in one place for too long.

Today I found myself on one of Lewes’s beaches, about an hour and a half from the University of Delaware. My friend knew of a spot where there wouldn’t be many people. The beach was eerily quiet, for it being a holiday and all. I quickly gathered that my friends are the kind of people that can stand to be in one place for too long.

It is almost sacrilege to tell college students that you’re not big into naps. So as my five friends fell unconscious around me, I tuned in to who else was on the beach. Seagulls seem to fly in pairs. Gliding in rings around each other far above sea level. Every now and then, a solo gull would glide low to the ground along the shore in search of fallen Cheetos. He knew the drill; people won’t eat a sandy Cheeto.

Seagulls weren’t the only ones to traffic the sky, which looked like Andy’s room in Toy Story today. Clouds in perfect form, the way you draw them around important words in your notes when you’re feeling fancy. I watched a massive hawk make its way across the beach. Unlike the seagulls who had to flap their porcelain wings every once in a while to keep them going, this hawk kept his amber basketball player arms extended all the way down the beach. With just the slightest turn of his head he controlled his route. I was thinking about if these birds ever flew for fun, or if they always have a purpose or a destination to be flying.

I honed in on the sound of the waves. The shore is never still nor quiet. What a wild thought that that ebb and flow has been around as long as the ocean itself. Someone else who has been around for what looks like forever, the horseshoe crab. ‘Living fossils’ we call them, but I’ve never seen a living horseshoe crab. They always seem to be dead, and Lewes looked like a murder scene for horseshoe crabs today.  It’s shocking to see these prehistoric critters in the modern world. Horseshoe crabs look like they should exist in history books about the cretaceous period and that’s about it. They must not be coping well with the anthropocene as so many of them are washed up and dried out on the sand instead of in the water.

Woken from her sunny slumber, one of my friends gets my attention. A foot away from her head is a palm-sized crab, whose black beady eyes looking at my friend are communicating: ‘you’re in my way.’ That’s when I noticed that the beach is punched full of holes, about the size of golf balls. The crab scuttled back and forth a little, rushed and nervous. When she’d stand still, her front claws would be moving a mile a minute, looking as if she were devouring her favorite meal. If any of us humans were to move, she’d flee down one of her rabbit holes, which made me think about crab culture. Is this a free for all system? Do all the crabs share holes or are there property laws in place? I couldn’t help but imagine some for of ant farm dynamic here with a whole underground city.

Today, I watched with the intent of wondering. I’ve always loved animals, but today was the first time in a while that I’ve really tapped back into that fascination. It was refreshing and I am thrilled to do it again.

The Music of the Forest, by Jon Neifert

I sat on the remains of an old railroad bridge right along the creek, on the Pennsylvania side of White Clay Creek State Park. This location is one of my favorites in the park that I’ve been to because there is a small trail that doesn’t look like much of a trail. As a result, I can be alone and have relative quiet. I am a local to the area and even though I do not go to school far from home, this area makes me feel much closer. The first thing I noticed about the creek was the water flow- it had just rained the other day, making the creek swollen and fast-flowing. The sediment had settled, giving way from the murky brown to the transparent image of the stream bed before me. There is an area of rocks with a fallen log laying in the creek, causing the water to bend and speed along a small stretch, creating a miniature rapid of sorts. The insects are rhythmic and musical in their calls, an unidentified insect playing the rhythm and another playing the harmony. A bird further down the creek side makes a cadence of twills, unfamiliar to me. There has been an audible chorus of insects, but very few birds this late afternoon.


Of the birds I have heard, the most vocal are certainly the crows. There is nonstop cawing, with my best guess being they are arguing over who gets to eat the most grain from the recently cut adjacent farm field. As I paused and glanced along the bank, I felt a sting and found that a curious ant had found his way onto my calf and had sunk his mandibles into my leg. I removed him and went to reposition myself, only to find my hand fall onto the barb of a stinging nettle. The sharpness caught me by surprise and I was feeling a little aggravated with the two inconveniences I just received. But I remembered fond memories of stinging nettles from when I was young and quickly dropped my grudge. Our old home had backed to a creek and my sister and I would explore as far as we could. Curious in our youthfulness, we would grab and collect any interesting thing that caught our eye, one of those being stinging nettle. Being siblings and finding an outlet for our daily frustrations toward each other, we would pull the plant up by the roots and batter the other with nettle barbs until the other one quit, returning home with welts and strong words from our mother. For all the pain nettles can cause, ironically it can be freeze-dried and used as an all-natural allergy treatment.


A strong breeze woke me from my reminiscing over my childhood, but it was pleasant. The insects that played behind me never once ceased their music for the duration of my stay. That is something that I have realized after my first observations here- I have a very limited knowledge of the insects in the woods and have taken their sounds for granted. They played for my whole time there, but I can be certain that the music continued even after my departure, and will continue to play tomorrow and the day after that.


My lack of knowledge regarding the insects strikes me as odd, considering I enjoy being outdoors, but never thought to ask what makes this music. I used to be very bothered by the prospect of not knowing something, but now it seems I have come to accept it. I’m not sure when I stopped asking questions or why, but I would like to change that. From our first reading in A Sand County Almanac, Leopold says understanding small things, such as the geese bias towards plains corn fields, detracts from the beauty of the natural world and makes it dull (Leopold 20). But I disagree with that point. I see how understanding can lead to normalization and underappreciation, but it can also lead to appreciation in the fineness and attention to detail of natural systems. It likely took generations and generations for that selection bias to be established and retained amongst the geese; a bias in behavior that many people would consider trivial, but nonetheless, it’s a behavior that nature finds worthwhile for the geese. The attention to detail is what strikes me as the most beautiful in these systems. Another strong gust moves throughout the woods, carrying the crow caws with it and the first yellowing leaves of the near-autumn.


I take note of the vegetation around me, including the towering trees and some of the plants along the bank. I had already been acquainted with the stinging nettle, but across the creek bank I saw the characteristic leaves of the American Walnut. The bridge remnants I sat on were littered with cracked shells of fallen walnuts, the wrinkles of the skeleton plainly visible. Wondering how they got over to this side of the bank, I looked up to see the Walnut reaching over, forming a natural bridge for adept climbers like squirrels. Between the gaps in the trees, I saw three vultures circling overhead, aware of some activity undetectable to me. For the entirety of the time I sat there, I did not see or hear a sign of human activity, aside from a lonely airplane 30,000ft above me.

The Woods Do That To You, by Kim Ploeg

My plan all week had been to set out to White Clay on Friday, though when the day arrived my motivation to explore was waning. It was overcast and chilly, and throughout the day obligations seemed to be building up. Mid-afternoon, however, I decided to leave all thoughts of deadlines and responsibilities behind me and hit the trail. I set out to the spot I had chosen, about a 40-minute walk from my house. On the way, I allowed my mind to wander. While looking around me at the delicate purple roadside flowers and the caterpillar nests that seem to now be more filled with dead leaves than caterpillars, my mind lead me where it wanted to go.

As I turned down the path into the park, I remembered a video game where you can play a race against an old version of yourself. You race the shadow of your previous self, and I imagined myself walking down this path alongside the shadows of the dozens of previous times I have taken it. As Jack Kerouac writes in The Dharma Bums, “The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago.” The memory of this passage brought to mind something I would do in high school, when I was first starting to really feel a deeper connection to nature. I would stop every once in a while, and remember, and most importantly feel, the whole history of the world behind us. I would think of all the beings, human and non, that died before this moment and returned their energy to the universe to recycle. Each moment seems to me the perfect culmination of everything before us, as we stand at the cusp of the next moment to which we will contribute and actively create. I feel balanced in this “L-point.” An L-point, to astronomers, is the point in space where two gravitational fields balance each other out, and an object can remain suspended in this space without expending too much energy. I feel like the small object balanced between the gravity of our past and future, breathing easily when I remember the stability of this point.

When I got to my spot by the creek, I turned my focus back to the nature, leaving musings behind on the path. I sat under a bridge on the creek, and looked around to get an idea of my surroundings. Last time I was there, I waded alone in the perfectly warm water, but this time I did not even take my shoes off. This time, I was an observer. I looked to my left, and immediately saw a heron wading by the bank. I watched it until it carefully walked out of view, and then pulled out my notebook to write this down. When I looked up again, the heron was back, but further away. It dipped its beak into the water, and shook its head as if it did not find what it was looking for. He waded away again. I wrote down this observation, and again, when I looked back, it was back in sight. The heron walked onto the bank and into the bushes, sending another small bird flying out yelling. This bird did not seem to welcome the company. It flew about 50 feet away and continued to yell at the heron, before moving closer to continue the same. I looked the other way while this was happening, noting the flavescent trees and grey sky reflected in the ripples of the water. Yellow flowers were blooming on the bank, next to simultaneously browning tree leaves. A squawk brought my attention back to the birds. Turning my head, I saw now two herons flying out of the brush. One skidded and stopped on the water, about 100 feet away from me, behind a rock where I could not see it. The other chose to fly above the bridge, and continued flying over the creek until I could not see it anymore. Recently, nature has seemed to be begging me to pay attention to it. Putting headphones in feels like cutting myself off from the world, and closing my windows and blinds feels like a sin. The sight of this heron flying above and away from me felt like a thank you for my attention.

After sitting creek-side for about 30 minutes, my time was up. I walked slowly home, feeling grateful I had come out, and thanked the trees for standing by me for another day in the woods.





The Backstory, by Amy Elfond

From the instant our weekly journal assignments were described in class, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation or thought spent on where I was going to choose to devote about an hour a week to sit, reflect, connect, and write. This is rare, for usually, the decision making process that goes on in my brain requires agonizing hours of overthinking, pacing in circles, and frantic phone calls. I smiled to myself thinking, wow, this deserves a celebration. On Tuesday morning in this class full of new and familiar faces, I think of My Spot. Yes, I have claimed my possession of a log. A log that was once a tree that fell from turbulent winds or maybe on its own, exhausted from standing tall for so long that it wanted to serve another purpose; creating a walkway across a silent creek, connecting land to land. I am sitting in Alison Hall, just a floor above a classroom that I had taken my MCAT less that a week ago, on my last first day of my undergraduate career.  As someone who feels emotions with every single working cell in my body, reminiscing on these past three years requires a tightly fastened seatbelt. To put it simply, I’ve cried a lot. Tears caused by a wide-ranging emotional spectrum. My Spot has been my stability, and this opportunity to get to know it better, understand it, and form a deeper relationship with it got me excited for the semester ahead.

The Monday of Labor Day, after getting home from a long day at the beach, I decided to pay a visit, this time with a notebook and pen. I remember my first time walking through White Clay in the afternoon of a stunning fall day in November of freshman year, a day I remember with color and richness. I was on a date with a boy from my residents’ hall during a time where I thought the University of Delaware was a place where I couldn’t fit in or find home. Although we remained just friends, I am forever thankful that he introduced me to the park. We walked past the tennis and basketball courts behind the dorms on North Campus and became engulfed in clusters of green, brown, red and orange leaves with blue skies peeking between branches. I am pretty sure I even vocalized, “Are we in Narnia?” At 6:30pm almost three years later, the fierce sun was lower in the sky approaching the horizon, and the green was vibrant and overpowering. Strolling down the familiar path where I’ve taken long runs and hikes with friends, I make a right by the “Closed No Entry” sign, stepping over a divider and crunching over some fallen leaves to stand in front of a red brick building. The building is old, crumbly, beaten down, and clearly abandoned. There is graffiti on its screwed shut wooden doors and windows. There is tall and untamed grass etching up the sides of the structure and spider webs stitched in between branches of the bushes that surround it. The house looks like a scene out of a horror film where you yell at the television for the protagonist to get out before something jumps out at them. Just like the characters in the films, I don’t listen and proceed to walk around to the back of the house.

I remember freshman year standing here with my date, afraid, wanting to go back on the trail and away from this creepy looking haunted house but he persisted in us exploring. Retracing our steps, I duck and hop over limbs and shrubs until I see the creek, and right there as it was my freshman year, the thick roots of the fallen tree removed from the earth with its trunk stretching over to the other side of the stagnant river. With my chaotic and always in motion lifestyle, this log is grounding and sobering. The way the water stays stationary and static causes me to become immobile, fearing even my slightest exhale would cause it to ripple. And the log, so stable, so strong and balanced, invites me to climb up and sit dangling my feet off each side. I kept the promise I made to myself that November day that this was going to be my place of peace and meditation when needed.

I try to make myself as still as possible, blending in with the silence and trying to become aware of the sounds and details of a place I know so well, but imagining I was Aldo Leopold seeing it for the first time. I notice how the log seems more sunken into the earth, and that the bark is chipping off like paint. If I look at the water long enough, I can make out little bubbles coming from what ever is underneath the murkiness. I wonder what kind of tree is the one that I sit on, which has supported me through periods of growth and decay. I wonder what other life that surrounds it and feeds off it also.

Through this spot I found my home at college. To spend this time learning and observing will be my way of saying thank you.

Blinded by the Beautiful, by Maddie Hannah

I set off on a sunny but cool day to find my place for the semester. I needed to find a place that could erase the town around me so I could face the present moment and surroundings. I found that place along an eastern section of White Clay Creek. A hop, skip and a jump away from my apartment- I would have no excuse not to find myself here routinely.

Here I notice many things. First, I notice the water level is higher today from the weekend rain. The water lay still though, and I am only able to sense its movement from the fallen leaves that lay atop. The occasional breeze and fallen leaves remind me that autumn will be here soon. Soon an array of red, brown, and orange leaves will blanket the creek and ground around me. The vegetation will slowly die as Winter creeps by, too. This first dose of Autumn, however, is what I find the most beautiful. Plenty of green foliage, scatters of birds and squirrels, an outdoor house cat running behind me, and a fisherman in the distance. Today, I am even fortunate enough to see a Blue Herring across the creek. It seems that around this time of year, there is always a Blue Herring standing on a log across the creek.

As I admire the beauty of the creek and its inhabitants, I realize I don’t know much about the systems that balance among it. My understanding of the nature around me is mostly of its aesthetic. I reflect on the words of Aldo Leopold, “Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language” (Leopold, 96). It slightly pains my soul that neither words or pictures can grasp the beauty of the creek or my appreciation for this environment.

I like to think that I am a decently observant person when it comes to the outside world. I spent a lot of time in the woods of Kentucky this summer, and had plenty of time to notice the plants and insects. Unfortunately, I never saw much wildlife as I wasn’t near any flowing water. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and fire ants were of my main concern so I acquired quite the eye for these not so pretty (or valuable?) plants. I would lay there on the ground and study the movements of beetles and ants, the fungus and vines growing up trees, and the poison foliage that I attempted to stay away from. While I notice the smaller parts that make up the ecosystem around me, I’m still unable to identify many.

As I reconnect with my Creekside in Newark, Delaware, I realize there is much that I overlook when trying to connect with the world around me. Sometimes, looking at the our little critters and flora, blinds us to the bigger picture and systematic flows around us. Sometimes, we are blinded by the beautiful. The words of Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac depict this further in his ‘Come High Water’ essay. He addresses the April river floods from upstream snow melt and the lumbar it washes up on his farm. He sometimes can estimate how many floods a piece of wood has been through. Something as simple as a pile of scrap wood is seemingly more; “Our lumbar pile, recruited entirely from the river, is thus not only a collection of personalities, but an anthology of human strivings in upriver farms and forests (Leopold, 25).” The essays of Leopold somehow capture a beauty and understanding of the surrounding environment that I find myself wishing I could see what the words leave out.