Taste of New England: F’15 Gets Lost in the Stalks

Corny puns and ah-maize-ing cider donuts completed our Friday afternoon at the Preston Farm’s corn maze. Just about all of F15, plus my housemate’s sister, joined in on the fall ‘sport.’ Each of the three vans came supplied with a bag of fresh cider donuts and a gallon of apple cider. We consumed most of this on the scenic drive through Old Mystic and Preston.

This year’s corn maze was themed “Sleepy Hollow.” Miles of passageways curved into shapes representing the theme. We could not see the pattern, but by two hours, we had traced the corn maze inside and out. Stamps were the incentive that kept us going. Sixteen stations hid amongst the corn stalks. An unknown prize would be awarded to the lucky fella who completed all sixteen. A mother and daughter were running frantically about the corn maze, asking everywhere if they had seen number twelve. They had one stamp to go! I cannot imagine how long they were in the maze. After nearly two hours, I found eleven. Surprisingly, I did not see many of my classmates in the maze. I ran into a few here and there, in which we exchanged details on where to find certain numbers. Our exchange sounded something like this:

“Find number three?”

“Yeah. Back there,” friend points behind him, off into the corn wilderness.

“Where was seven?”

“No idea. Somewhere that way,” points in two directions, resembling the scarecrow when he meets Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

AJ with calf

Emerging from the corn maze, everyone gathered to go on a small tour of the farm with the farmer’s son. He proudly spoke to us about the history of the farm and how he is a fourth generation son on the land. We all oohed-and-ahhed at the sight of a newborn calf, named Charlie! Her mother gave her thick, wet kisses across the face, ruffling the still-damp black and white coat. The cows and chickens certainly topped off the day! By the time we mustered into the vans to leave, the sun was setting over the corn stalks’ golden tips.

Our colorful view of New England’s fall foliage will soon be a memory as we fly south to Louisiana on Tuesday! Stay tuned for details about alligators, mud, and cajun dancing!

California Reflections…and Mac n’ Cheese

Tidepools

It has been just over a week since we returned from the west coast and I have had time to reflect on the places we visited and new ideas we learned. I thought I was close to my classmates after the tight quarters on the Niagara, but I was wrong. California stitched our Williams-Mystic family tighter together. The van rides, the long hikes through the Redwoods and tidal pools, and delicious meals eaten together felt like we were on an educational family vacation – one that none of us wanted to end. Twice during the trip, everyone gathered in a circle to debrief and share one special moment from the trip. A common theme among our stories was the love for one another’s enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. At Drake’s Beach, for instance, Mike’s ecology lecture involved a discussion about scientific uncertainty and how a biologist simply cannot know how many seals are in the water or where to find them in a given day. Our policy professor, Katy Hall, spoke next, but changed her topic completely to feed off of Mike’s talk about scientific uncertainty in legal cases. Moments like this teach us about our peers’ and teachers’ passion for the environment. I agreed with everyone’s thoughts about the trip. Simple moments like eating Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream on Cannery Row at night, to unique moments of studying the pillow basalts at Tomales Bay for the first time, impressed upon my mind that I will not have another experience like this.

Lecture on the Rocks

Did I mention F15 is an athletic bunch? Every chance we got during downtime, a frisbee would be tossed on the beach or in a parking lot. Additionally, the morning runs on a misty Bodega Bay road to catch the sunrise: priceless. Well…except for the one morning that I joined my fellow F15 runners and could not see a glimmer of light through the thick fog. “1.5 miles,” my friend Katie said. Doable for a non-runner. In the end, I ran 4 miles round-trip to only catch the droplets of fog onto my skin. But I sure was glad I went. The green glow of lights on the bay, the slow stream of a fisherman’s boat going out on the water, and the blare of the fog horn gave me a great sense of Bodega Bay. While others slept, a whole other world went to work.

CA Hike

As I sit in my living room, here in Mystic, I feel as if the town shrunk since leaving for California. The Mystic river is so small and gentle compared to the monstrous white waves of the Pacific. Houses are close together in the village, the trees are shorter (and with bright crimson and yellow leaves!), and the sky lacks pelicans arching over the water like I saw in Monterey Bay. Next on our agenda in this quaint New England town is to leave once more for a short trip down south – Louisiana, get ready! But before we do that, a few local activities are planned! A corn maze adventure will get us in the autumn mood before the leaves shed completely. And perhaps our houses will carve pumpkins for halloween and decorate the outside of our porches. Just the other night, Albion house (my home of three other girls) hosted a Mac n’ Cheese night. Each house made their own recipe for the cheesy comfort food and brought it here for a big hot meal. Which house had the best, you may ask? Let’s just say no one had much left in their dish! We ended the evening by playing Catch Phrase and Cards Against Humanity. Stress of the previous week’s assignments melted away with the laughter and good food! During one round of Catch Phrase, I snuck away to the kitchen and quickly prepared a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins. Thirty minutes later, everyone enjoyed a warm muffin.

Golden Gate Group

Even if we aren’t in sunny California looking out for whales and sea otters, we are here in Mystic enjoying the cozy fall season together.

Northern California–update from the field

It feels more like a brilliant 3 weeks in California than 4 days! We have seen and done so much within the past few days that I feel like this has all been a dream. From Monterey to San Fransisco, thus far, the West coast has treated us well with sunny days and breathtaking views.

ocean view

I shall hit the highlights:
-A whale was spotted during our policy lecture at Point Lobos- no big deal.
-A dozen or so humpbacks flipped their flukes for us while on our Monterery Bay whale watch trip.
-Free time to explore Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium!
-We discovered a portion of a whale tail washed ashore on Pescadero beach- and then read a poem from Harvey Oxenhorn’s Tuning the Rig that describes a whale carcass he saw in the 80’s.
-Made a pit-stop at a farmers market for sun ripened strawberries, chocolate, green beans, and a humongous grape fruit. Yum!
-Watched a sunset at Half-Moon Bay
sunset @ half moon bay
-Rode on a Crowley Tug on the San Fransisco Bay. We met up with two Mystic-Williams alums!
crowley tug
-Viewed the Golden Gate Bridge from a hill and took in the Bay from another perspective.
-Students get free time in the city to explore and find food! I found my way to the Crookedest Street – enjoying the gardens that curve along the street.
What next? We are headed to Bodega Bay and the Red Wood Forest!

New Science Onboard the RV Connecticut and Old Maritime Trades

RV Conn Group

October is off to a great start! Guess what F’15 did the first day of October? From Avery Point, we motored out to the mouth of the Thames River and down past Electric Boat in a 76 foot steel research vessel to collect sediment and water samples. Why is this exciting? Well, on the brig Niagara we collected similar data, but used ‘high tech’ buckets, line, and m&m’s. On the RV Connecticut, temperature, salinty, and depth were updated automically via computer screens. I was excited to use the carousel water sampler instead of a bucket! This machine is mechanically lowered into the water. Twelve metal tubes, nearly two feet long each, are ‘fired off,’ or closed shut, at twelve different depths to collect water by the click of a button. All we had to do was release the water from a spigot into labeled plastic bottles when the machine came back on deck. Our class was split into Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie watch like on the Niagara – so every aspect of the data collection was covered by rotating watches. Success! What a great way to compare scientific methods. Having sampled water the hard way, it was refreshing to step into the modern world of marine science. Earlier this week, I stepped back in time by indulging in my maritime skill class.

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

Electives in high school or college entail ceramics, a physical education class, or some creative outlet that breaks the academic schedule. At Williams-Mystic, we get to choose our fifth class from a variety of maritime trades taught in the seaport. Canvas work in the old Mallory Sail Loft, sea chanteys on the Charles W. Morgan, blacksmithing in an authentic shop, and sailing on the river are what my friends spend four hours a week doing.

Maya Sailloft

I chose blacksmithing because where else can I stand in an 1885 New Bedford, Mass blacksmith shop and create four beautiful hooks within four classes? My first class with a seasoned blacksmith affirmed that I made the right decision. Three of us stood around the smoldering fire and watched our teacher turn a rod of steel from flaming cherry to a glowing yellow. He demonstrated how to bend the metal to our liking using a hammer and anvil. “Use your elbow to lift the hammer, not your wrist,” is one of his many reminders. When I couldn’t grasp the motion of hammering a flat flame finial onto the end of my hook, he brought out clay for me to practice hammering. By the last hour, I could mold the metal to a flame-tip shape. Without a doubt, my classmates who were sailing at the same moment, were having similar ‘a-ha’ moments. I have left every class with sooty palms and black finger-tips. My housemates see the hooks when I return at 5pm and put in requests for what they would like. I think I know where my source of Christmas gifts will come from!

Smithing

So much occurs in one week here in Williams-Mystic that it is nearly impossible to put it all into words. I could have talked about our science trip to Weekapaug Point or how we held sea stars and sea urchins from the intertidal zone. Nonetheless, I think the picture is clear. We are a busy group, but loving every minute of the diverse places we go! Did I meniton where we are bound for next? CALIFORNIA!