Time spent at the site oscillates between contemplative, observational, and social modes. I make every effort to visit the site at least once per week, and frequently spend time shooting video, writing, observing, doing contemplative/meditation exercises, and documenting observations, often combining site visits with extended walks around the field station. Sometimes I do nothing at all for significant stretches of time, and just try to simply be in the forest and with the tree. My collaborator, naturalist Kate Wellspring visits the site regularly too, and has created a thorough botanical survey of the area. We have tracked bird, animal, fungi, and some invertebrate species, and installed a wildlife camera at various locations around our site. We've tracked the progress of the many red oak seedlings sprouting around the base of the tree, and Kate propagated some acorns from the tree, raising them in pots for a couple of seasons, and then planting them in six locations around the field station. The pictures below give a sense for some of our activities and observations. It is hard to capture the meaning and richness that the site has taken on for us over these last three years. The tree and the forest have been great teachers and provided occasion for rich conversation, learning, and reflection. This work has been supported and enhanced by a sustained project of self-education in the areas of natural history, forest ecology, climate crisis, and environmental philosophy.


Part 1: at the tree

set a timer for five minutes

stand in front of the tree with both hands on it

breathe deeply and slowly, feeling your breath fill your whole body as you inhale (draw air in through the tree)

then feel your breath filling the volume of the tree as you exhale

inhale (receive) and exhale (give)

stop when timer ends

(consider reciprocity)

Part 2: at home

read about photosynthesis, respiration, and carbon sequestration

Increase your understanding of these processes

consider the carbon cycle and its role in climate crisis

Part 3: back at the tree

repeat part 1 with increased knowledge and consideration of material reciprocity