The Pink Tree

The tree stands about 20 yards away, in a little clearng next to the gazebo. I’ve spent the last 20 minutes sitting quietly on the grassy lawn of the park and I’ve only just noticed it, blocking out all senses but the chirping of the birds. So when I finally crack open my eyes, I have to blink a bit to adjust to the afternoon sun. It’s a perfect cloudless day, but a chilly wind penetrates my double-layers, and I shiver. I look down at the notes I’ve jotted down so far:

  • owl hooting (barn owl?)
  • birds
  • very green grass

The world is coming alive, as it always does after the harsh winter. I look around at the park, fixing my eyes on the tree once more. The tree’s vibrant pink flowers stand out against all the greens and blues. I stand up, stretch my legs, and begin to stroll towards the gazebo. When I reach the tree, I position myself directly beneath it and point my camera up. The branches unfurl out, allowing peaks of blue between the pink, until they disappear beyond the edges of the square frame. I take the shot, tuck my phone in a pocket, and sit down on the ground one more.

I’m happy to see about a half-dozen bees, buzzing around the flowers, pollinating. I’ve always liked bees. As a child, when all my friends would scatter in the presence of one, I would go completely still, letting the bee rest on my skin, trying to keep my breathing shallow, and my body relaxed. Every time, a few moments would pass, and the bee would float away again. I like to think they appreceiated my non-reactive approach, driven by fear though it was. I let the bees be and they let me be in return.

The tree itself is small, probably planted relatively recent. I feel slightly ashamed that I don’t know what it’s called, being the daughter of a forester with whom I went on countless walks in the woods growing up. As I gaze up, I observe the thinness of its branches, the smallness of its flowers. It seems rather fragile, bending easily in the slight breeze. Perhaps it’s the relative newness of spring that makes it seem so vulnerable, still fresh with the memory of a relentless cold. But the passing of the seasons guarantees many warm days ahead, those summer days when the winter is a distant memory. I imagine the tree growing sturdier as the days go by, until it stands strong and proud against the whipping wind of an August afternoon thunderstorm. It gives me hope, that I, too, can stand straight in the face of the seasons ahead.

I stay here a few minutes more, eyes and ears alert, waiting patiently for something else to observe. But it’s still early and the earth is waking up slowly, so I sit up, gather my things, and begin to walk away, making sure to brush the bark one last time.


How I Learned To Like A Computer Class

I remember the first computer class that I took my freshman year of high school. It had a unique name that I can’t recall because it didn’t solely involve computers, but physics, woodworking and welding. It was a required course, like home economics, intended to teach us valuable life skills. I was, for the first time in my school career, completely out of my element. I got by alright with the building, primarily due to my childhood experiences following Lego direction booklets (if you’ve ever attempted to follow a Lego build, you know that can be much harder than it looks). When it came to the computers though, I was completely and utterly lost. It was like attempting to read a language where you can’t even recognize the letters. As I recall, I got by because of my best friend at the time, who is, appropriately, now going to school for mechanical engineering. When the year was over, I vowed never to take a computer-related class ever again.

Yet here I am in Literature Study in the Digital Age, learning how to use the terminal, write commands, understand markup and XML/TEI. Like the class’s name says, we’re in a digital age and it’s valuable to know computers. So I’m trying to learn.

One part of the class that I’ve really enjoyed so far is learning about the history of computers and literature. Broad Band in particular is a fascinating read because it shows the extent to which women were involved in the history of the computer and were the earliest users. I think reading it actually helped me become more confident in my ability to navigate the class. This actually connects to the Social Psychology class that I’m taking as we’re learning about the ways in which stereotypes create self-fulfilling prophecies, where people start to believe and act out the stereotypes that others put on us. There is a stereotype that women aren’t good with computers and that computer science is a men’s field. However, Broad Band directly contradicts that idea which I think has made me feel better about my abilities in this class.

I’ve also enjoyed learning about all the hidden features in my computer that I didn’t know existed, such as the terminal. For example, I had no idea that you could create and organize files using the command line. Additionally, the fact that plain-text files are almost endlessly transferable across computer systems is very cool and it’s changed my perspective on specific word processing systems and companies such as Apple or Microsoft. It’s opened my eyes and made me more curious about the limits imposed by some tech companies.

To wrap this up, I no longer hold a grudge against computer-focused classes (though I still despise Lego directions) and I think I’ve learned a lot of valuable tools and knowledge in this class so far. I’m excited to see what the next part of the semester brings.