Day 3- Don’t take me for Granite because I’m Gneiss!

16 Jan

We started the day with a mini geology lesson by Professor Amy Rhodes. After examining samples of three rock types in the classroom, we headed out into the MacLeish landscape to further practice differentiating gneiss from granite.

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While identifying two neighboring rock outcrops, we inferred which of the two rocks had formed first as well as the formation mechanism. We then shifted our focus to the stone wall bordering the backyard of the Waite family homestead remains. We found out that the small, local rocks piled on top of the stone wall were most likely rocks that had been removed during plowing, which means that the backyard had been a vegetable garden, though a difficult one to maintain—another piece to the puzzle of the abandoned homestead!

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On our walk along the Porcupine Trail, Amy pointed out a small patch of the hemlock forest where a succession experiment has been taking place. The patch of the hemlock forest was cleared about thirty years ago and it now sees a rapid succession by black birch trees, although there has not been much change in the acidity of the soil. The experiment is ongoing, and its result will carry more significance now that MacLeish is losing hemlock trees faster than ever to the non-native woolly adelgid pest. We wish the best of luck to our hemlock-nibbling porcupines.

During the lunch break, Carol (Professor Berner) continued the tradition of sharing sweet treats by bringing out some delicious, adorably-packaged, (not to mention) award-winning goat milk caramels. We heard the story of the failing goat farm metamorphosing into a thriving confectionary operation, and we enjoyed the paper box featuring all the goats and shepherd dog, Elvis, in hand-drawn illustrations.  We began to wonder if more expense had gone into merchandizing than the actual production. Regardless, in the afternoon, we each shared our vision for the MacLeish Open-House for the sixth-grade students, and divided into two groups to continue planning for the two activity stations. While tomorrow will likely be busy as the last day for preparation, we can’t wait to share the things we’ve learned at the Field Station with our visitors!

– Fengsheng Zhu, ’14 (Economics and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies double-major, Amherst College)

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