~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Nate Martineau. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Nate is from Lansing, Michigan where he attends East Lansing High School.~
Sunset on the Black Trail
Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student has come to know Lowenwood, has developed gratitude for this gift from James R. Lowenstine, and, through their deepening love of this place, has become inspired to be a caretaker of the natural world.
It was a beautiful sunset. No, it was much more than that–it was just past five o’ clock on a clear winter evening, standing on the Black Trail looking West across a vast, wild landscape. The sinking sun cast its brilliant orange-gold rays across the snow. The bog’s stunted trees threw their shadows far to the East. There was not a sound to be heard–nature stood in silent reverence towards a Western horizon beset by a magical display of exquisite, fiery beauty. Where we stood, the sun shone low through the needles of two young White Pines. We were entranced by the light, its soft quality reflecting that of the trees’ delicate yet perseverant needles.
This evening on the Black Trail represented one of the countless times I had ventured outside during my first three weeks at Lowenwood. From skiing down the “hill of death” to snowshoeing the bog to birding Little Donahue Lake at six-thirty in the morning, I had been having an immensely fun time.
I had experienced the deep snow and biting cold of a Northwoods winter and the satisfaction of seeing much of Lowenwood’s boreal wildlife. But nothing could transcend this experience; not even watching the Northern Lights atop the sledding hill four nights before. For the first time, I felt as deeply a part of the landscape as the bog’s stunted spruce and the forest’s towering White Pines. For the first time I felt a deep connection and appreciation for this place, “this gift from James R. Lowenstine”.
The shadows thrown across the snow, the sun blazing through the white pines and cedars on one side of the trail, casting a golden light on the spruces and birches on the other. The utterly calm, windless expanse of snow, the stunted trees, the bog. The hare and coyote tracks in the otherwise untouched snow. These all made this experience stand out for me. Most memorable of all, though, was the connection I had gained to the landscape and the environment here at Lowenwood, and then realizing that it would be here, at this magnificent place, that I will be spending another thirteen weeks.
Eventually, reluctantly, we had to tear ourselves away from the magical scene. I knew I would be back the next night.
~Nate Martineau, Conserve School Semester 8
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.