[Urban Ecology Email Mini-Course] Week 0 Exploration Prompt

Welcome, all! :seedling:

This thread is for sharing the results of your Week 0 (warm-up) Exploration Prompt from the PLIX Urban Ecology Email Mini-Course. Completing these prompts will give you a chance to get into the urban ecology spirit and give you a better understanding of your local environment!

As a reminder, here’s the prompt for Week 0:

In your home, in your yard, or on a stroll, record (by writing, drawing, taking pictures, etc.) the following:

  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you hear
  • 3 things you feel
  • 2 things you smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Then, share your observations by replying to this thread!

The PLIX Urban Ecology Email Mini-Course is a three-week automated email course that will help prepare you to run the PLIX Urban Ecology activity series in your library! Each week you’ll receive an email with reading excerpts, facilitation tips, and an exploration prompt to get you outside and into the urban ecology spirit! Interested in participating? Sign-up here! :seedling::cityscape::herb::house_with_garden::fallen_leaf::compass::bug::building_construction::bus::deciduous_tree:

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In my home, sitting at the dining table near windows with views of the backyard and of the landscape in front of the house, I see:

  1. A hazy sky, light gray-blue in color
  2. Tall evergreen trees dappled with afternoon sunlight
  3. The hummingbird feeder hanging from the eaves on the back of the house
  4. The power line that crosses in front of the house
  5. The purple lavender growing in a pot on the back deck

I hear:

  1. The sound of my husband strumming his guitar
  2. The zoom of a car passing on the road in front of the house
  3. The whir of the fan on the air purifier
  4. The click of my fingers typing on the keyboard

I feel:

  1. The stretching of the muscle in my right leg
  2. A slight itching sensation in my right cheek
  3. The carpet under my bare foot

I smell:

  1. The light fragrance of soap on my skin
  2. The lavender and mint sachet that I left on the table

I taste:

  1. The lingering aftertaste of a cherry tomato I sampled after harvesting from the backyard garden earlier today

This is awesome, Sarah! Rich in detail : ) What else are you growing in your backyard garden!?

Thank you, @averymsnormandin! I am growing a lot, actually: several varieties of squash, spinach, cucumbers, various herbs, strawberries, eggplant, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, green beans, collards, kale, snow peas, kohlrabi, and various flowers. I’m also planning to plant a few more seeds for fall/winter gardening in the next couple of weeks!

I’ve been dabbling in edible container gardening for several years now, but this year, with the pandemic, I have devoted more time to learning and experimenting with growing different plants and using a variety of containers.


I chose to sit outside my MakerSpace. I’m lucky enough to be facing an acre or two of woods. It’s wet but not currently raining, midafternoon. Irmo, SC

I see…

  1. Tree trunks. There are so many colors: black, green (pale, dark), brown, white, grey, orange! Big/small, tall/short, rough/smooth, twiggy/unbranched, leaved and not. The range of textures is also profound: grooved or smooth or peeling or almost a diamond pattern from the bark, shaggy from moss, frilly from lichen, and more.
  2. The imprint of a maple leaf on the sidewalk. It’s something I’ve seen before - it happens when it rains. The leaf is nearby and is a lovely deep red with darker borders. The outline on the concrete is brown. It is ephemeral, more so than the leaves themselves. But a beautiful phenomenon.
  3. White quartz rocks. Some are larger - almost football sized. Most are much smaller. Broken bits and pieces, faceted by nature.
  4. Red clay dirt. Partially covered in green moss.
  5. Clouds. They’re grey and white and covering the sky, allowing no hint of blue through them. But they’ve still got their own texture. And the skeletal fingers of the bare branches reaching ever upward is a nice fractal contrast.

I hear…

  1. Traffic. Despite the fact that I’m facing a lovely bit of woods, the sound of cars intrudes. Cars on the street, passing by. The sound of car engines idling in our parking lot, which is being used for Covid testing.
  2. An airplane. A rarer sound than it was nearly a year ago.
  3. Leaves. They rustle in the wind and as the birds land and take off.
  4. Birds. Mostly chipping calls and I’m not a good enough birder (yet!) to be able to identify those. But I also hear the squeaky dog toy sounds of a Brown Headed Nuthatch and the Eastern Towhees telling me it’s time to drink-your-teaaaa.

I feel…

  1. Grateful. To be outside. To have my mask off. That I’m getting paid for doing this as part of my job. That there are still birds out here despite the fact I haven’t been able to feed them as regularly as I could when the building was open to the public.
  2. Chilly. It’s a bit cold out and I don’t have on a jacket.
  3. The air. It’s not even enough to be called a breeze. Just the feeling of air moving against my face and hair.

I smell…

  1. Wet. Damp. It permeates everything right now. It’s been raining for days. Wet leaves, wet dirt, wet sidewalk, wet everything!
  2. Smoke. Someone is burning a wood fire nearby.

I taste…

  1. Well, I could go taste the astringency of the cedar or the bitter tannins of an acorns, but I think I will merely remember those tastes for right now. And fondly remember my botany prof in college, who encouraged us to taste everything that wouldn’t kill us or make us sick. :slight_smile:

I include a photo of one of the pages of the notebook I’ve started…