Its the last week! What the heck? Or should I say what the HEC because this is Human Ecology Capstone week? Holy moly.
Thanksgiving break was weird. At first I was super out of it. I went to the grocery store and couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening around me. Later, I had some sort of grand realisation of the many ways I was connected to my family and my house; connections I had forgotten about since being at Chewonki. After that, things were slightly more normal but I found myself increasingly more aware of the habits I was slipping back into and the differences in my mindset. It’s always strange to make such drastic changes but I’ve been getting quite a bit of practice.
When I returned from break, we began some new reading by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. I don’t think it’s possible to get through a semester of Chewonki without reading some of their works. I loved Emerson, but I wish we had been able to read slower. I felt like there was so much to be gleaned from each sentence and I simply didn’t have time to think that deeply. At any rate, I will likely be reading more Emerson in the future. Thoreau was also good, but his writing was a lot less dense.
We also had a ton of final assignments. I completed a self created project for art, using cut up magazines. I also wrote a final essay for both English and Spanish. Surprisingly enough, the English essay was a lot more stressful than the Spanish one. We had to complete it in class, and I did very minimal preparation. I think it turned out decent though. The Spanish essay was based around the connections between a movie that we watched and a story we read (both in Spanish) about immigration from Spanish speaking countries to the United States. I was super proud of my Spanish essay because it was the longest piece of writing I had ever done in a different language. We also had a few final science projects. The first was our phenology wrap up. We spent 25 minutes at our spot, making observations, and then wrote a follow up entry about long term changes we had witnessed throughout the entire project. We also had a written field journal prompt in which we had to outline the changes a specific forest would likely go through in the next 100 years. Surprisingly enough, forests have predictable stages of succession.
Our true test of knowledge, though, was the field final on Saturday. All the semester students piled into 3 buses and drove 45 minutes to Reid State Park. We were broken up into groups of 4 or 5. Each group had a proctor and 5 stations. First, we went to the dune ecosystem, then the rocky intertidal zone, the species quiz, the forest, and finally the salt marsh. At 4 of the stations, we had questions to answer about the environment. The species quiz was 30 species that we had to name based on memory from the class material. It was without a doubt the most fun final I’ve ever had in my life. It felt like a huge scavenger hunt where we all worked together to compile clues. At the end, we grilled hamburgers and veggie burgers and had a snowball fight using the 3 inches of fresh powder that had fallen as we were working. What a day.
As the semester comes to a close, it seems like all the students are getting even closer to each other. Everyone is becoming nostalgic for all our good times and every so often I’ll hear “Guys we only have a week left!” Everyone else immediately yells “STOP”. This week is pretty low stress, with days full of work time and group activities. We’re all enjoying our last few moments because soon Chewonki will be just a memory. We’re also all super sick. Everyone is coughing all over the place and my hands are getting so dry from washing. It’s great! I love sore throats. Awesome. Really quality stuff.