Posted by: Stefan Anderson | January 12, 2014

The Northwoods – Sarah Farrelly



~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS7 student Sarah Farrelly. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Sarah is from Jamestown, Rhode Island where she attends North Kingstown High School.~

The Northwoods

Conserve School Learning Goal: Understands the ecology, history, and cultures of the Northwoods from the local to the global levels.

13-08-17-lol-bike-pathTwo weekends ago we were told that it would be our last chance to bike into town, so a friend and I took advantage of the opportunity and checked out bikes from the LRC [Lowenwood Recreation Center]. The ride was infinitely different then it had been the last time I took it, near the beginning of the semester. There were the physical changes: the once warm and clear path was coated with icy snow and the air was now brisk and cold with the promise of rain. The leaves had fallen and the wildflowers were gone. More prominent for me though were the changes in what the ride meant to me. The first time I did it, it was new and exciting, something I had never done before. But riding into town on that cold Saturday was full of memories, of going to church and to weekend activities. Riding past the fence at the cemetery gave me a little glow of pride as I remembered painting it for community service day. The coffee shop, the antique store, the pizza place, the grocery store, the cracked road and the little buildings, they all held memories of Conserve.

That day, however, we went beyond all these buildings and ended up in a little antique shop [Simple Life Antiques and Uniques] I had not been in yet. It was a little bit cramped inside as those stores usually are but a look at the price tags told me this guy knew what he was doing. There were taxidermy animals, cool chairs, and a truly impressive vintage sweater collection. The old man behind the counter greeted us as we came in and when we paused to try on sweaters he came over and struck up a conversation. He had moved up here with his wife he told us, many years ago. They had opened the store because they were bored and needed something to do. That was 17 years ago. There was love in his voice as he pointed out the dolls in the back that his wife had made and pride as he told of all the big name magazines they had been featured in. At check-out he casually mentioned “Ya I knew James, he was a great guy” our jaws dropped. Sometimes I think we forget that Mr. Lowenstine was a real person but talking to this man reminded us of that and the enormity of his gift.   He talked frankly but with a little sadness about the school changing formats, but loss of money was not mentioned once. Instead he talked about how he and the other locals missed going to the shows and concerts at the school, about how they missed eating in the dining hall and getting to know the students. When we went to leave he followed us to the door and offered to give us a ride back to the school as the rain the sky had been promising had finally arrived in full color. We politely declined his offer but that did not change the attitude behind it.

During my stay here I have been met with nothing but kindness and gratitude from the locals here and around the Northwoods. When I was back in Rhode Island [for Thanksgiving Break] I remember telling the story of the Northwood’s logging past over and over. Conserve School is a special place but it is made that way, in part by the people who live around it. My goal in life is to find other places with the same love and support in the people and places both in and around it.  And, maybe, to create one of my own. As we biked back in the pouring rain our wheels spun faster and faster as if Lowenwood was calling us home.

Sarah Farrelly, Conserve School Semester 7

More photos from Sarah’s semester at Conserve School.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.


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