The Talking Stick Blog

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Nature, Writing, Literature: Expedition and Discovery

Nature, Writing, Literature

Expedition and Discovery

(October 1, 2013)

I began our session by adding a card to our bulletin board of suggested books: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (the memory of this story had inspired my thinking about our adventures for the morning). This first card on the bulletin board beckoned others, in the course of the day, to add half a dozen other cards with book reviews.

I shared two more books with the group: The Travels of William Bartram and The Travels of William Bartram Reconsidered by Mark Dion. William Bartram was the son of John Bartram, a Philadelphia botanist well-known and well-regarded in the colonial period (you can visit his house today: William made a famous expedition to the southern states from 1773-1777 and documented his finds in words and pictures. Mark Dion, an artist, retraced some of the path of William Bartram in 2007-2008 and sent pictures and artifacts back to Bartram’s Garden, which were assembled into a wonderful exhibit in 2008.

These expeditions came to my mind as ways of thinking about the idea of expedition--whether to an unexamined space or to a place already known and mapped, and the idea of discovery through careful observation.

With these ideas in mind, we took our time along the trail to the pond.

Nature, Writing, Literature

We stopped in the field next to the pond to play a game. Partners took turns blindfolding each other and leading one another to a tree. Once the person arrived at the tree, he/she had to examine it through touch. Then the person was led away, the blindfold was removed, and each person had to find his/her original tree.

Nature, Writing, Literature

Nature, Writing, Literature

Afterwards, we talked about what clues in the topography, light, and elements of the tree trunk everyone used to find their tree again. One person had noticed something about her tree before I had brought up the game and then recognized it through touch when she happened to be led to that tree. A few trees were the same species and people led to those trees distinguished their own through observations about particular patches on the bark or differences in the girth of the trunk.

We are finding that naturalist interests and observations pop up every time we go outside, whether it is during this workshop with a focus on nature, during global studies, during the maker workshop, or while we are eating lunch. A few of us became very curious about a very thorny plant we noticed on our walk to follow the Awbury map during Global Studies. It turned out to be Trifoliate Orange, Poncirus trifoliate ( ).

During our lunch break, Heather Z. from Awbury shared this caterpillar with us (as yet unidentified—can you identify it?):

Nature, Writing, Literature

So much to explore! And write about! And read!