I tried to write last week but I felt like I had nothing to say. Luckily, lots of things have happened recently. Maybe most glaringly, the PSATs. This past Saturday morning, all the Chewonki students left their comfy warm beds to gather at 7:30 for breakfast. Immediately following, we were all subjected to 4 hours of cruel and unusual torture… That was actually a lot easier than I expected. Surprise! Standardized tests are not so bad.
Another thing that I thought was going to be more stressful than it turned out to be was my Spanish presentation this morning. I had to speak in Spanish for 8 minutes about an animal of my choice. A combination of practicing my presentation out loud while walking through the woods and a regular habit of unconsciously translating all of my thoughts into Spanish helped me remember my lines. It actually might have been one of the most organised presentations I have ever done. I figured that winging something in another language would be decidedly less easy and way more stupid, especially because I was a bit sleep deprived from staying up until 1:30 am finishing my poster. So I can’t say I didn’t procrastinate, but the product was good. I also managed a long walk through some fields and forests, some tree climbing, good conversation, and leaf identification. Overall, not a bad tradeoff for a little missed sleep.
On the topic of Spanish, I have been cultivating an incredibly strong love of language in all its forms since I’ve been here. This is something I didn’t anticipate, as my main motivation to come to Chewonki was the sciences (which are equally intriguing and awe inspiring). Not only have I been speaking Spanish, I’ve also been learning a bit of French. Two nights ago, the French class cooked dinner for the whole semester, speaking nothing but French for the entire time. They then presented the dish they had prepared to the entire community, giving a description, history, and the preparation method. This served as their quarter exam, but they needed a few cooking helpers because there weren’t enough people to cook for everyone. So, I got to chop some carrots and learn some of yet another language. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to learn French as well. I already understand a fair bit of it since it is also a romance language, and I picked up the accent in no time. When I return to Big Picture, I think a project on language is in order. Mark my words, I’ll be fluent in another language by the time I get to college.
My other classes have been incredible as well. We went on two art field trips this past week. One trip didn’t even require a vehicle. We went to watch Matt Russ, a landscape artist, as he painted the waterfront. He is the husband of the admissions director here at Chewonki, and apparently he has painted for and spoken with the art class in years past. The other trip was to the nearby town to the gallery/ studio of Keith Rendall, a local printmaker. I thought this trip was especially cool, as we have been working a bit with softcut printmaking in art recently. Keith doesn’t work with softcut or linoleum at all, but he does work with wood, which is a little more difficult and time consuming. He also does aquatints and a few other types. He spoke with us and we got to see some of his work. A lot of it was very large scale, and incredibly intricate. Some of his pieces have taken upwards of 2 years to carve. Watching artists work, and hearing them talk about their profession is a little strange to me. It makes me wonder when people begin to consider themselves artists, and what that means.
We also took a trip to Monhegan Island, not as an art class trip but as an entire semester trip. There were 6 foot swells on the boat ride there. It actually felt like a roller coaster, and I found myself becoming increasingly more thankful that I don’t often get seasick. While we were there, we got to interview people about many different topics concerning island communities such as their water sources, energy and sustainability efforts, waste management, transportation, education systems, and the like. This is all in preparation for the Human Ecology Capstone project that we’ll complete by the end of the semester. Currently, we are practicing how to ask good questions to get the answers we need. The setup seems to be similar to a Big Picture project in some ways, so it hasn’t been too difficult.
Other places I have been recently include Popham Beach and Pemaquid Point. Last week we went to Popham Beach on science field trip. We learned about dune species, adaptations, and struggles of living near the ocean. At the end, I jumped in the water with my jeans on, and then rode 45 minutes back to campus in a chilly van. I think it will suffice to say that I thought I would never be warm again. Worth it though. The week before that, we went to the rocky intertidal zone of Pemaquid Point and learned how to gather unbiased data with belt transects. We used a tape measure at low tide to evenly space 10×10 inch wire squares from the edge of the water to the beginning of the dry rock. Then, we counted and identified the species found in each square and created a table based on our findings. Finally, we compared the findings from the East side of the peninsula to those from the West side, and talked about processes that would dictate the differences. We also learned about exactly what makes the tides happen. Perigee and apogee, anyone?
I feel like every time I write one of these it just gets longer and longer, so I’ll cut it here. I could probably say any number of other things, but I think I covered the basics. More to come at a later date!
P.S. The book we are reading for my English class is literally incredible. Everyone should read Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. Go. Now.