Last Tuesday, Semester 59 split in half, with one group going to their work programs and the other, the group that I was in, heading out on their weekly Natural History field trip. A thirty minute drive off campus led us to our destination for the week: Morse Mountain in Phippsburg, Maine. Although Morse Mountain may only be a five minute distance as the crow flies, we had to travel first north to get off of our own peninsula, Chewonki Neck, then west towards the city of Bath, then south towards the mountain. The car ride was put to good use as we belted staticky pop songs. Our off key singing was thoroughly enjoyed by our enthusiastic chaperones, Chris and Becca, whom teach spanish and science, respectively. Arriving at our destination, we pulled out our bright yellow field journals and started up the mountain.
With each step we observed more: ospreys, turkey vultures, and great blue herons; granite with flecks of mica and garnet. One of the unique characteristics of Morse Mountain is the amazing diversity of the habitats it supports. We marched through a forest, which we noted was made of both coniferous and deciduous trees, then more quietly through a salt marsh, so as to not disturb the wildlife. In the small salt marsh pools we noted many crabs, small fish, and seaweed. There were even some whispers and shouts when someone spotted a turtle! After crossing the marsh, we hiked back into the forest, and as we arrived at the summit, a beautiful view of the different terrains we passed through spread in front of us. To our left the ocean sparkled and reflected the sun. Where the ocean stopped, salt marsh surrounded by lumbering forests began.
Our job on these field trips is to fill out our sunny yellow science field journals. We draw a site map, write a site description, make field notes, brainstorm, and my personal favorite: the species account. The species we described on this trip was the Pinus rigida, or the pitch pine. In my book, I noted the spiky points on each flake of the round, grayish pine cones, that the needles grew in bunches of three, and the rough and porcupine-scratched bark. On our way down the mountain, the tide had come in so much that the trail across the marsh had flooded and we had to wade through the water to get back to the Chewonki van. By the time we arrived back on campus, everyone was ready for delicious dinner that ensued.
Sarah, Milton Academy, Massachusetts