Griffin goes outside for Once: A Blog Post

I will start this blog post off by saying that I sort of did this assignment twice. I did go to the arboretum with my fellow gramaicsy members on great day, but I also was lucky enough to go down to Florida a few weeks ago with my girlfriend, so I will talk a bit about both of those experiences. Also, here’s an image, maybe. It looks like an image in my preview, but not when I publish. I dunno man, I’ll figure it out later.


The Arboretum

As a commuter I spend a lot less time on campus than most students. The Arboretum took me a bit to find, and by the time I got there I was already 30 minutes later than when my group had planned to meet initially. Thankfully, I was still the first one there. Waiting in the gazebo was the perfect oppurtunity for me to stew in the thick fog of that day. Most folks probably wouldn’t have liked the weather, it was cold, gray, the kind where it’s hard to tell if you’re feeling the beginnings of rain or just the crisp air, but those are the days I feel most welcomed by nature. As much as I appreciate the sun and all the life it brings, the light and heat bring a lot of discomfort for me. But the gray days, where the sky is like a pillow and I can bundle up exactly to my liking, those are the days I treasure.

What I heard most of all as I sat in the Gazebo was the rustling of the barren trees in the wind, dead leaves skating across eachother, with the odd low creak, probably coming from the Gazebo itself. It may just be because I rewatched them recently, but it reminded me of the Entmoot from The Two Towers. I was eavesdropping on a conversation between the Gazebo and the woods surrounding it. It reminded me of what I’d imagine it must sound like to be in a large ship, where your seemingly static surroundings are constantly shifting ever so slightly around you.

After maybe 10 minutes of waiting, everybody else showed up. The others were understandably cold and uncomfortable, my dreary days aren’t for everyone. We exchanged some anecdotes, poked around the garden, showed eachother pictures of our families. It was nice to engage in some small way with the campus life I am otherwise quite removed from. I don’t often feel the sense of community I hear folks talk about, but that day I felt like I was part of one, maybe even two of them, just for a moment.


My days were quite busy in Orlando, I didn’t get much time to sit in nature and relax. That being said, I still saw plenty. Lizards running around everywhere took some getting used to. The heat was brutal, even on the cooler days. What really got me though, was the birds. I know, it’s such a small thing, and I doubt I’ll be able to really express why they stood out to me the way they did, but I’ll try.

The uncanny valley is a term that I’m most familier with being used in the world of visual effects. If you don’t know, the uncanny valley is a figurative place where things that seem almost normal, but not quite. You may not be able to put your finger on exactly what is different, but you know there is something. For example, think about those weird AI feuled robots with silicon faces, or that makeup trend on tiktok (I don’t use tiktok, please don’t shame me if this trend is no longer a thing).

For my first few days in Florida, the birds all gave me this feeling. Honestly, I thought at first I might’ve been getting the dose wrong on my medication. Whenever I caught them flying, something seemed off. When I could hear them in the parks, they sounded almost like recordings, not quite real.

By the last full day of my trip, I realized what had changed. I was walking through a park with my girlfriend, one she’d walked with her mom as a kid. There we caught a glimpse of a bird, one I hadn’t seen before. It was the most red bird I’d ever seen in my life, I didn’t know birds could get that red. Then it hit me, something that was quite obvious but I just hadn’t considered; Florida has different birds than New York. They’re still birds, they do bird things, they’re not completely alien or anything, but they were just different enough for me, who’s left New York for a total of maybe just over a week since I was 3, to notice.

I’m not sure I can say for certain what all of these differences were, especially since I only registered how these birds were different the afternoon before we left, but it was, sort of embarassingly, one of the coolest parts of the whole trip for me.

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