Browns Bog: A Pitcher That Does Not Spill

During our immersive experience through Browns Bog, I was particularly drawn to the pitcher plant, also known as Nepenthes. These pitcher plants were somehow able to maintain their beautiful, yet subdued sunset coat compared to their neighboring vegetation, which were either dormant or dead. Pitcher plants resemble a nutshell skeleton in the winter and latex skin in the summer. Having never heard of this species, I was fascinated by how these plants can modify their physiology to trap their prey, like ants, termites, and other insects. For instance, the plant will adjust the slipperiness of its pitcher’s surface to trap its prey. Once the prey has entered the pitcher, the plant’s digestive enzymes and acidic liquid, similar to humans, will start to break down the organism into a protein. I was struck to hear that plants share similar biological processes as humans. It has sparked a new interest and now I want to explore more into the field of botany.

Accidental Luxury Found in Nature

In Economy, Thoreau explores the relationship between luxury through nature. I think it is fascinating that Thoreau considers the luxury of nature as an accidental discovery made by humans because often humans yearn for and seek to possess some form of luxury. It seems as though nature unknowingly provided humans a luxurious resource but to acquire it humans had to work for it. I believe luxury can only be attained by a limited number of individuals. However, Thoreau argues exclusivity of luxury can become inclusive. He illustrates this juxtaposition by focusing on one of earth’s most powerful elements, fire. Thoreau saw fire as a luxury because it was an unfamiliar and beneficial resource (Thoreau 114). But, he argues fire lost its status of luxury when it became a “present necessity to sit by it” (Thoreau 114). Thoreau alludes to this idea that luxury cannot be a necessity or enjoyed by humans. I find Thoreau’s definition of luxury contradictory to the Merriam Webster’s definition of luxury, which defines it as “something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary” and “an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease” (Merriam Webster). It makes me wonder, can luxury be enjoyed by many or does it have to be accessible to some people and treated as a rarity?

Can Solitude and Companionship Coincide?

In Visitors, Thoreau challenges the idea that physical state of solitude cannot coexist with companionship. Expressing a desire for social contact, Thoreau shares that he has designated “three chairs in [his] house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society” (Thoreau, 208). Thoreau suggests that he wants to have company despite his longing to be in solitude which required removing himself from society. Alternatively, guests seem drawn to fulfill the role of companionship that Thoreau craves. He even adds that “when visitors came in larger and unexpected numbers there was but the third chair for them all, but they generally economized the room by standing up” (Thoreau, 208). Thoreau strategically claims that a state of solitude and companionship can indeed peacefully coexist by placing these chairs within the walls of his small cabin. However, he argues that there is a particular ratio of voice volume to distance in which they can work together. He states that “loquacious” speakers should be in close proximity to each other while those who “speak reservedly and thoughtfully” should stand at a distance where “all animal heat and moisture may have a chance to evaporate” (Thoreau, 209).

Thoreau’s philosophy for solitude and companionship is “you want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port” (Thoreau, 209). In other words, thoughts demand a state of solitude just like humans before a conversation could arise; Thoreau states that thoughts need a “steady course before it reaches the ear of the hearer” and humans needing time for silence before they receive a message.

A Tree’s Epidermis

Once the ruler of the world, nature must confront a new rival. An eternal battle has emerged between man and nature as their visions of earth’s future collide. They fight as if there is a war and race in hopes of claiming the most barren, yet valuable, pieces of land. Land is gold through the eyes of the colonists, that is man and nature. If one claims it, the other one steals it.

Nature’s lungs have countlessly been pierced by a powerful enemy. Left wounded in the lungs, nature’s heartbeat has lost stability as it struggles to regain a rhythmical flow of breathing. Searching for the elements that supply it life, nature traces the earth’s surfaces and reaches towards the infinite sky in an attempt to revive itself. However, man has, to some degree, altered those elements to work in their favor. Originally allies with nature, these natural elements have betrayed nature. However, nature unveils a hidden strength of persistence and independence to retaliate at unpredictable times. Spreading like an incurable virus, nature camouflages itself as a sea of lifelessness but also bursts with rage often leaving man deceived and diminishing their constant mental state of superiority.

During our immersion into the tamed wilderness, I was particularly drawn to the trunks of the trees. The bark appeared to resemble a human’s fingerprint––every tree’s bark was unique. And with that uniqueness emerged a story. Were these trees simply aging? Victims to an outbreak? or scars produced by man? The trees that appeared to be aging almost looked like they were emulating a snake shedding its skin. The skins of the trees were like different generations within a family. The oldest generation was on the outside and the youngest was at the core. One knew the outer layer was the oldest generation as it had wrinkles and bruises. The trees that looked as if they were victims of an outbreak were the ones that were choked with wildlife, like fungi. The appearance of fungi often signaled that “the tree is infected with a rot-inducing pathogen” resulting in “heart decay, which causes healthy trees to begin to rot at the heart of the trunk” (Austin Tree Surgeons). The fungus was tenacious as little sprouts were scattered all over the trunk. It was surprising to see a tree untouched by intruders, whether that be humans, other wildlife, or a virus. The trees that captured the scars of man were the ones that bear the cuts. At Johnsons Woods, Beech Trees were the victim of such human assault. These trees archived the impulsive graffiti of man as they evolved into a canvas for lovers to write their names.

My experience at Johnsons Woods was unexpectedly intriguing as I realized that trees are archives that record life on earth. I hope to visit Johnsons Woods during a different season to see if it extracts a different impression.