Monday, July 4, 2011

Astounded by the sheer amount of green everywhere!

Today was the first full day of the SEI Pre-College Camp, and it was quite a rush. We woke up at what seemed like the crack of dawn for a quick breakfast at McClurg (some brave souls ventured out even earlier for a morning run) in full field gear – long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and long socks - to protect us from the ticks and chiggers we might encounter on our hikes. We then were whisked off, in our respective groups, to our activities. My group, group B, went on a three mile hike to Piney Point with Professor Evans through the various biomes of the Cumberland Plateau, and all the while Maggie, today’s other group B blogger, and I annoyed everyone by snapping as many pictures as we could. We learned the differences between a sandstone forest and a limestone forest (sandstone is poor for conventional plant growth, while limestone is perfect for it), constantly passing samples of tree branches and leaves back through the line. I was astounded at the sheer amount of green everywhere we went, a clear marker of the remarkable diversity of life forms found on the plateau.

After examining salamanders, ant-lions, and crawfish, we had lunch at McClurg and went through our second activity of the day, the one which group A had just done. We were still hiking, but this time, we hiked close by campus, we were with Smith (he’s very particular about being called Smith, and nothing more, by everyone he knows), and were examining not animal and plant habitation, but human habitation, and how the land is affected by it. We toured the remains of an old African-American settlement and the graveyard, all the while learning about what Post Oaks have to do with the Fibonacci sequence, how one can mark the boundary of old abandoned cemeteries by identifying certain species of trees, and why there aren’t very many red cedar posts in the area. I was again astounded at the information Smith could derive from the landscape. The Domain is so unique. So are this camp’s total of three ukulele players, myself included. I can’t wait to continue exploring it, while learning so much, and making so many friends. I can already tell that this camp is going to be very memorable.


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