Monday, November 6, 2017

Perspective

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of my time in a nature preserve in my hometown. It was a tiny pocket of land containing a forest, lake, and bog. I spent hours there, running on the loop trail lost in my thoughts. I felt awestruck by how fearless the deer were of my presence and sat on the dock of the lake reading books and dreaming of my future adult life. I continued visiting the preserve throughout college, but things began to change. The environmental classes I was taking opened my eyes to things I hadn’t noticed before.

Before college, walking down the trail, I admired beautiful, colorful flowers dotting the forest floor. But after, I noticed all of the non-native species, the creeping periwinkle taking the place of native plants.

Before, I enjoyed the shade of towering trees. But after, I noticed all the saplings on the edges of the forest overtaking the rare bog plant community.

Before, I enjoyed the solitude the woods provided. But after, I knew about landscape fragmentation and noticed houses barely hidden by the thin layer of trees.

Before, I meandered along the raised boardwalk looking down at the mushy ground of the bog and jokingly feared that if I stepped off, I’d sink and be lost forever. But after, looking down, I noticed all the unique carnivorous plants sliced to their bases by weed trimmers used to maintain the trail I enjoyed.

Before, I was in the woods. But after, I was in a fragile nature preserve.

Cypripedium acaule