by Jordan Byrnes
Winter has arrived in Kentucky. The winter solstice is December 21st, but for me winter begins when the thermometer drops below 32◦, the last leaves fall, and sunset is around 5:00pm. The lack of sunlight, fresh air, and time outdoors can be disheartening.
Winter can be inhospitable, but I see silver linings. Every season is full of gifts and opportunities. Some of these are easy to identify and understand. The new beginnings of spring, the sunny summer moments of carefree living, the bountiful and colorful autumn harvest.
Others are not so easy. The violent storms that come when seasons change, the brutal heat of summer, or the bitter cold of winter. These require us to look beyond appearances to see deeper meaning.
When I look deeply at winter I see that the cold, which bring us indoors, brings us together. Sometimes we sit around a bright warm fire with loved ones. I see that mugs of coffee, cider, tea, or hot chocolate taste better when it is cold. I see magical beauty watching snowflakes fall. They decorate the landscape into a winter wonderland. I see a blanket of snow on the ground signaling a slow day of recreation and relaxation with loved ones, rolling snow up into balls to make a snowman, or pelting your friends during a snowball fight. I see the joy of gliding on sleds, ice skates, skis, and snowboards. I see colorful trees and flowers replaced with lights and decorations. I see comfy sweaters, warm socks, mittens, and blankets. I see people sharing presents and their presence. I see people being grateful for what they have. I see people giving by donating and volunteering.
I see an ending and a new beginning, for nature and for us. This winter try to be open and accepting to new beginnings, look on the bright side, and slow down to appreciate each and every moment!
Why do we ever build bridges? Sure, we build bridges to travel over water so we can take our fancy cars from place to place or so we don’t get our feet wet when we need to cross a creek. Although these functions are very helpful, I do not believe these are the most important uses for a bridge. Bridges can be so much more than some concrete or some wood we use so our hiking boots stay dry. Bridges connect places and more importantly, bridges can connect people. They can help establish entire communities from nothing or repair longstanding communities that are on the brink of falling apart. This is why we are building a bridge through our work here at the Forestry Outreach Center (FOC).
When I was growing up in West Virginia, I was very active in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). I started as young as you were allowed to start and stayed as long as they would let me. Through many camp outs, hikes, car rides to campouts, and community service projects, I noticed that I had made a special connection with my peers, and I couldn’t quite understand how or why that happened. As the years flew by and I grew older and more mature in my scouting experience, I began to realize that this “special connection” was the community I had built through scouting. It was so mesmerizing to me that something like this could happen so fast. Some more time went by and I ultimately earned the rank of Eagle Scout and left my little old troop to come to Berea College. Fortunately for me, I never left what I learned in those many years and the lesson that sticks with me the most is how important a community can be.
When I came to Berea College, I knew I had to find some way to purse my passion for community that I developed through scouting, and what better way to do that than through the same outlet I utilized while I was in scouting: trees. Very recently I was welcomed onto the team at the Forestry Outreach Center, and I was given the option to pick a project I would like to work on this year. I knew this was my opportunity to build a bridge, but I was not sure how to do it. As I was hiking to West Pinnacle on a very sunny day, an idea hit me like the heat had been doing for about a mile. I knew that I could utilize the Boy Scouts of America to help me build a bridge and repair a small Kentucky community that seems to have a deep divide between traditional conservative values and newfangled liberal arts education.
As this blog is being written, the Forestry Outreach Center is in the process of establishing connections with the leadership of the BSA of Kentucky to host a major event for local scouts in Berea, KY and the surrounding communities. Now what is the lesson in all of this? Why did you just read a blog with a misleading title from a college student who you don’t know? My best guess is that you’re interested in construction of bridges in this beautiful forest. If that is the case, rest easy knowing that the only bridges we are building at the moment is one to better this community for years to come. If that lesson isn’t good enough for you then here is another lesson: bridges are much easier to build than engineers think. All you need are some trees, a passion, and a little bit of help from those around you.
by Trent Powell
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Of course! But even if people were around to hear it, they would never be able to understand what the tree was saying. Peter Wohlleben, forester and author of “The Hidden Life of Trees”, discovered that trees, much like many other living organisms, have a way of communicating with one another.
Read more “If a Tree Falls…”
Civilization grows at an exponential rate, and our technologies and influence over the Earth is ever evolving. It is astounding how different things were 100, 50, even 25 years ago. One large difference is our shift towards the comforts of living indoors, not just as a country, but as a society. In fact, as of around 2008, the majority of the world’s population (and 54% as of 2014) lived in urban areas. This is the first time in the history of the world that this has happened (UN 2014).
Read more “Neuroscience in Nature”
I am convinced that language is the most fascinating aspect of anthropological study. We can study a culture’s words and oral customs and make inferences about that culture’s historic development and daily rituals. A language (and its numerous dialects) provides insight into what is prominent in the lives of its speakers. Words that describe very specific feelings or images are particularly intriguing; I try to imagine the origins of these words, the people that first spoke them, and what the word looked like when they were adopted.
Read more “10 Wonderful Words about Nature and Pictures at the Pinnacles”
I have always been amazed at how we do not know what we are missing until we take the leap of faith and try out new things.
As humans, we always go for the easier route, the comfortable one. We do not like to try things that take us out of our comfort zone, but once we do, we are always left in awe and wonder.
My name is Aloyce Riziki. I was born and raised in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. I am currently a rising junior at Berea College and for the first part of my summer, I am working at the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center.
Read more “Taking Nature for Granted”