At Chewonki, our Natural History of the Maine Coast class has another wonderful facet that most people miss out on. Every other Friday, all the students head out on the Neck to our individual spots in the woods that we picked out at the beginning of the semester. We spend our allotted hour doing whatever activities have appealed to us. This exercise in alone time and creativity is called phenology. My phenology is to scream for minutes at a time, and then write about my thoughts. It is very therapeutic. Here, I describe the feelings and ideas I evoke during phenology, an integral part of Chewonki.
“Nakedness of a yell or a scream. These words do not adequately sum up what this therapy is. A yell wants a response. A scream wants to alert, perhaps, but more often than not is an ejaculation of surprise or something like that. These devices are still cloaked in the guise of “necessity” and “unintentionality.” To truly be naked in voice, you have to choose to do the thing. I have chosen, elected, to utilize this device for my Phenology. I don’t yet know what to call it but I know it is not a yell or a scream or a blurt or an ejaculation. This is a conscious choice to stream my energy through my mouth up out of my lungs and abdominal muscles and heart and mind to infuse and permeate and get glued to the trees and the rocks and the leaves on the ground. This is a choice, and that makes all the difference.
“It begins with making a sound, usually a vowel sound. Your body, I suppose I ought to say my body, is familiar with this simple act. Most everybody is. It becomes foreign and scary and unnerving when it extends for more than a second. In society your body doesn’t make that sound/action, and even in private it doesn’t happen. It isn’t singing, and it isn’t a scream. It has developed into some kind of forceful moan that stays at constant pitch and slowly sucks the air out of your body. I am doing this as I write. It helps me concentrate. The vibrations created by my vocal cords and my lungs shift and motivate the clutter and small ideas and large ideas and line them up and give me just enough oxygen to write and think. It reminds me of a television show I used to watch about the creation of commonplace things. A giant vibrating tray held and shifted potatos around, shaking off the water they were soaked in and moving them slowly and randomly/methodically to different holes in the tray to be sorted into baskets containing potatos of the same size. I feel this happen within my brain as I expel my body’s energy and consciously flap my vocal cords, feel my lungs’ pressure that forces the air through them. My tangled fishing line of emotion gets straightened and unwound and on both sides the line is grounded by my ideas, fallen from the tray, clear in their purpose and confident. The ideas, like stones, weigh each end of the line down over the metal structure of my past and upbringing and experience.”
-Maxson Jarecki, New York, NY