refuge

 I love how she connects the lost of birds by the water level with the loss of her love. The chapter of Whistling swan. This chapter suggests that Williams is setting aside her religious views.  She said, “At dusk, I left the swan-like a crucifix on the sand. I did not look back.” This seems to imply that she similarly left Christianity behind. At the beginning of this chapter, Williams and her mother attend the funeral of Tamra Pulfer, the young woman with whom Williams’s mother has been communicating about Pulfer’s cancer, such a religious conversion is understandable, especially after her mother’s own battle with cancer. I think that Great Lake is a metaphor for cancer. Williams’s statement describing the swan’s probable cause of death ties in with this theory; “Most likely, a late migrant from the north slapped silly by the ravenous Great Salt Lake. The swan may have drowned.” Pulfer’s death killed the swan or her faith.

 

silkworm

There were always old ladies selling baby silkworms outside of my primary school. As an 8-year-old child, the happiness of seeing these cute white little silkworms is unimaginable. I secretly bought them with my pocket money without telling my parents. I put them in a shoebox. They would only eat Mulberry leaves. Otherwise, they would starve and die. It was so hard for me to find these people who sell mulberry leaves every day because I think I had around 20 silkworms. It was so popular to have silkworms as pets back then. All my friends have them. I loved the feeling of their tiny feet on my hand. I also loved how soft and how cute they were.  My friends and I would bike through so many streets to look for the mulberry trees that summer. It was a huge mission back then for us to find the food for our silkworms. I even planted a seed in my garden. Ten years later, the mulberry tree is as tall as me now. However, I never have silkworms again. I always think about them when I see people wearing silk cloth. 

*Armadillidium Vulgare/Watermelon bug”

We call them watermelon bug in Chinese because when you slight touch them, they will curl up into a ball that looks like a watermelon. They were always in the soil in the raised flower bed in my primary school. (looks like down below) We have a ten minutes break between each class. I remembered every break, I would run to this place and start finding watermelon bugs. I still don’t understand why I was so obsessed with them. I found them extremely fun. I love to see them curl up to a ball and then stretch their legs and go. And I will put them into a small bottle and start to do the same thing again. I haven’t seen them for a long time since growing up. They still one of my childhood memories in my heart. 

Blog 3

I love the chapter Solitude the most. I love how Thoreau expresses his feeling of loving to be alone. He said it said straightforwardly, “I love loneliness. I haven’t met a better companion than loneliness.” It is brave thinking. Lots of people nowadays might have this thinking but they are always too afraid to truly spend time by themselves. The time he spent at Walden pond. He chose himself. He wants to spend time with himself. He wants to do things that he actually truly loves. He reminds me of people around. Amy is one of my friends back home. She learned how to sing and ride a horse just to make her application for college looks more special. She doesn’t like any of the activities. In some ways, she was forced to do things that she doesn’t really want to do. On one side, I don’t agree with doing things that she is not passionate about. However, on the other side, I understand that she has to adapt to reality such as trying to go to a “good” college by rating. These things are not real according to Thoreau. I think he really found his peace at Walden pond I really envy that. My senior year in high school was the most stressful time in my whole life. My high school was extremely small with thirty classmates in my whole grade. For a long time, I always have breakdowns and care so much about how people around would think. I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t really express my feelings and have fun with things and people that I truly love. 

Thoreau loved Walden pond more than any other place. He compares with several other ones like the white pond. And he always talks about how pure Walden is. I also like how Thoreau loved old stories about his area and read every book and also ask questions to every person who could tell him the old tales.

Blog 4 my adventure with mushrooms

I hate rainy days. The one thing I do like about rainy days is it gives me an excuse to stay inside the whole day. I hate when the weather is cloudy and dark but you have to wake up in the morning to go to school. 

I remember that was a Tuesday morning. It was raining outside. I was so sleepy that I feel so annoyed while walking to my class on my usual path with my giant backpack and books because I also have to use another hand to hold an umbrella. I was looking down the whole time. While I was walking on the very edge of the path. Something seems like a little umbrella appears to my eyes. Mushrooms! On the shredded wood in the grass beside the path, little mushrooms are growing. They were so cute and white. I stopped my steps and squat next to them to observe. I have never seen mushrooms on our campus. I raised my head. there were mushrooms hidden in the grass. I was so surprised. I knew mushrooms love to live in a wet environment without the sun. But I was generally surprised the field in front of my dorm hall is also a place mushrooms would pop up. They were so cute and tiny. I didn’t know if I can touch them because my parents told me that some mushrooms are dangerous. I didn’t touch them. But I was observing them for a while. I was watching rain dropping towards their umbrella-shaped head. Somehow I found it smoothing my mood.

I still hate rainy days, but I love the random adventure for me with the little mushrooms. 

 

nature in our school

I generally love the environment on our campus. I love how greens are always around every teaching buildings in a very casual way. Even though I know that they are put in this way, they still give me a feeling of nature. My high school used to plant trees in these huge flower pots so that you know that they were just planted to be planted. I don’t like that. On the other hand, I never see a squirrel running or living like this on our campus ever.  It is definitely nature to me. Actually, their existence is one of my favourite things on campus. I love seeing them running from one side to the other. I love the squashy sound they always make when they go through these fallen leaves. I love how they wink their ears and blink their black, cute eyes to observe you while holding a chestnut. I love seeing their fluffy tails. I know they are afraid of me, which I feel is even more natural for me. I think nature for me is not necessarily having to be friendly.  Even though I love the feeling of holding a living wild creature in my hand and feel the trust between the squirrel and me. I was really excited about my friends that day. It felt like having bonded with nature. But I know that it is not natural for me. I don’t understand myself quite well, but part of me doesn’t really want to bother or step in their lives. For me, true nature should be left alone by itself.

Meadowlarks!!!!

I think that the chapter “Meadowlarks” is important to the overall vision of the book because it connects a lot of different events together and continues to show off William’s softer side. She is excavating at the Anasazi State Park and making tangible discoveries alongside introspective discoveries. Also in this chapter, she is told that her mother has had a relapse of cancer and the chapter is about her trying to get home to her mother using whatever method of transportation she can find.

I think that the Meadowlark bird connects well with Williams because the meadowlark is both a cheery colour of yellow and a dark black. I think this represents her quite well because at times she is soft and happy (such as when she talks about loving others and her body being a vessel of love) and then other parts of her are dark and stormy and snappy. She has a soft side and a stormy side, just like the colours of a meadowlark. The meadowlark can also be a symbol of her family because they are a close family and love each other and are happy (yellow), but this relapse of cancer has created a dark spot in their family (black).

Although I’ve never seen one in person, I’ve always liked meadowlarks for their name. They are fascinating little birds. They come in two varieties: the Easter Meadowlark, and the Western Meadowlark. These two types often get confused for each other but are very different in the type of song that they sing. Meadowlarks are omnivores, and their main predators include skunks, foxes, hawks, coyotes, raccoons, and domestic cats and dogs. Meadowlarks lay eggs that are brown with purple splotches. I think this is fascinating because the Meadowlark seems to be a bird that has a lot of dualities which gives them more complexity than is typically assigned to birds. In this way, I think that Williams is very much like a Meadowlark.

“Great Blue Heron” and the Self in Nature

In the first few paragraphs of the chapter “Great Blue Heron” in Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, Terry Tempest Williams analyzes her personal vision of a female heron, calling her “a bird who knows how to protect herself,” who has “stayed home” and “weathered the changes well” (Williams 285). Williams tips her hand a little more when she hypothesizes that “this is a generational stance, the legacy of her lineage” and says that she herself “would like to believe [the heron] is reclusive at heart, in spite of the communal nesting of her species” (285). This opening section fits in with a theme explored at length in Refuge: the idea of seeing oneself reflected in nature at the expense of reducing nature to an abstraction. Williams takes this individual heron, about whom she knows very little, and not only pads out her understanding of the bird with assumptions and guesses about her abilities, history, and family, but contradicts what she does know about the bird in order to further compare it to herself. In this way, she first reduces the bird to a metaphor or symbol, then to a complete abstraction, the image of a heron without context.

This, to clarify, is not a bad thing in and of itself. Any time a human writes about a non-human, some human attributes are going to be passed down. Even beyond that, it would appear that Williams’ intent is not so much to destroy the heron but to recreate herself. At the end of this section, she calls back to the central theme of the book, saying “refuge is not a place outside myself. Like the lone heron who walks the shores of Great Salt Lake, I am adapting as the world is adapting” (286). This illustrates how this chapter, which chiefly concerns her and Mimi travelling to see Nancy Holt’s sculpture “Sun Tunnels” and feeling a connection to the land and the universe there, relates to the overarching theme of seeking refuge from the worlds around and within oneself; Williams is using the abstraction of the heron to illustrate the importance of an adaptable, dynamic refuge by showing how resistance to change requires change.

However, in the interest of balance, it only seems fair to put Williams on the back-burner for the moment and inspect the bird she abstracted: the female great blue heron. According to allaboutbirds.org, the female great blue heron selects a male based on a few factors, including an elaborate mating ritual and the quality of the nesting territory secured by each male. Once she has selected a mate, she uses materials provided by him to construct a platform and saucer-shaped nest cup before laying a clutch of two to six eggs. She incubates these eggs for about a month, then rears the gray-downed, blue-eyed chicks for 49-81 days before they are ready to fly. During this time, the female and her mate remain together, only splitting up at the end of the year-long cycle when it is time for the pairs to reshuffle. This brings to mind my own experiences with great blue herons in the swamps of Louisiana, where many nests can be found perched precariously in trees and bushes and the birds themselves can often be seen wading through the shallows with their long, slender legs or flying overhead with their necks curled into compact S-shapes. These elegant figures seem to contrast against the more solid constructs of the trees, toads, and turtles around them, especially when their blue wing-tips are seen seemingly slicing through the trees and reeds behind them, defying their surroundings, resisting simplicity.

The Rosa F. Keller Library (Edward Abbey post)

Standing on the corner of Cadiz and S. Tonti, you can’t tell that anything is nearby besides pothole-perforated streets and shotgun houses. The live oaks and crepe myrtles lining the sidewalks obscure your ability to see more than a block or so. However, walking east on S. Tonti for two blocks (minding your feet on the sidewalk that rises with the intrusion of oak roots and cypress knees before plunging back into the soft, wet earth) brings you to the busier corner of Napoleon and S. Tonti, though you wouldn’t quite know it from the signposting, as half of the S. Tonti street sign on this corner has been missing for a decade or so. Turning to the north and travelling four blocks, you find a row of much nicer two-story houses, their fences adorned with patterned vines and painted eyes. At the end of this line is what passes for an intersection; three main streets, each divided by a neutral ground (“median,” for those who are wrong), clash in a series of loops and whorls punctuated by grassy, triangular islands and fading, arcane crosswalks. A blind corner a few feet to the northwest bristles with vision-clouding vines. You should have crossed Napoleon earlier, but for some reason you never do. Turning to the east and furtively dashing from one neutral ground to the next, and from there to the sidewalk, you are faced with your destination: the Rosa F. Keller Library, its ancient brick walls coexisting tensely with the newer, steel-and-glass section to the northeast, its ramps and stairs colliding with the overgrown flowering shrubs outside its doors as all beckon for you to enter.

Whistling Swan

This was a particularly grim chapter from Refuge. The beginning of this chapter sets up the subject matter incredibly well. Williams sets up a cold lakeside location at high tide. Williams describes the weather as cold and windy. The in-depth description of the lake reminds me of local lakes just before winter when the air is crisp and nature seems to be crumbling around you. Williams notes that this lake is not untouched by humans through the example of the empty shotgun shells. It is shocking to see how Williams treats the dead swan. While I would never touch a dead wild animal with such confidence, Williams has no problems with it. Rather than just moving the bird, Williams shows it proper respect through moving it into a more respectable position as well as covering its eyes. Washing the bird’s beak with my own saliva would definitely cross the line for how comfortable I am with nature, but Williams believes that nature deserves a certain respect that sometimes trumps the dignity of humans. I have a lot of respect for how Williams acts here. Maybe someday I will have that intimate of a connection with nature.