Every other Friday, instead of going to a regular Natural History of the Maine Coast class, we spend the hour at our phenology spots instead. The phenology project is where we go to a spot chosen on Chewonki Neck alone and without the distractions of homework or music players, and completely absorb ourselves in our surroundings. Each person is doing something different for their phenology projects; for instance, I am writing poetry, Maxson is taking the entire hour to scream and record how that feels, and Clarkie is recording species accounts. Phenology is my favorite part of the week. It is a learning experience unparalleled to any I have had before. I love the feeling of being entirely alone in the wilderness and wholly immersing myself in its processes. I feel like, sitting on my rock, looking out at the water, I am really a part of this world. At Chewonki, our teachers are always teaching us about the natural world. We have learned the names of trees and birds, everything from white pines to striped maples, and black capped chickadees to the barred owls. But during phenology, the natural world teaches us.
On a field trip a few weeks ago, while learning about succession, Peter Sniffen told us to really think about the story of the land. What happened to it? How does it react? What is happening to it now? At my phenology sight, I have the time to answer these questions. Being at my phenology sight I realized that our stories are multilayered and wonderful, but they are also final. And that’s what’s beautiful about the story of the land: it is unending, unrelenting, and forever energetic. Life at Chewonki is kind of like that too- the memories of the semesters before us seem to linger in the air; they affect us in ways we do not even realize. For instance, when we maul wood, this wood is stored for next year’s spring semester- Semester 46. The cycle is continuous, and each semester supports semesters after them, even though these semesters are, to us, faceless and nameless. In nature, things work similarly: the cycles work off of each other and with each other. And largely thanks to phenology, I think we are all beginning to realize the wonder and power of that fact.
-Charlotte Allyn, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY