Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When His Horizon Fell Dark, His Dream, Unfinished, Morphed...Finding Beauty in Vacant Lots

Most of the time readers are hearing of my adventures of teaching at Modesto Junior College, but few know that I have also been teaching classes at California State University, Stanislaus down in Turlock, and in fact I've been there since 1991. There have been many changes on the CSU campus over the decades. Because I've nearly always taught a night class, I haven't had many chances to explore the campus. I have an afternoon class this semester so I'm getting a chance to discover a few interesting corners.
Today I found a river runs through it! Or more properly, a sort of symbolic artificial river flows through what will eventually be a transect through California's natural vegetation communities. It's been in place for only a few months, and most of the vegetation is still in the seedling stage. Still, there is a walkway and benches, and in a few years I imagine this as a contemplative place in the midst of an urban campus.
There are some mature Valley Oaks at the pond where the stream ends, and it was here I found out the heartening story. One of the long-time botany professors had been planting the oaks over the years in hopes of forming a "natural" woodland on the campus (which is notably bereft of natural landscapes). Dr. Pierce passed on before completing his dream, but it is being carried on by others. The poem on the interpretative sign was written by one of my long-time colleagues Lynn Hansen, who taught at MJC for many years.

A vacant lot morphing into a bit of the natural world. It's so good to see dreams being fulfilled. We have a similar dream for the vacant lot on the north side of our new Science Community Center at MJC. It's slated to become an outdoor education laboratory with a similar layout of native vegetation, pond and stream, along with a rock garden reflects the diverse geology of our region.
Lynn Hansen is an accomplished poet, by the way. If you enjoy poetry with a strong sense of place, check out her recently published book, Flicker by clicking here. It's good reading!


Unknown said...

There is a beautiful artificial stream in the arboretum at my alma mater, CSUF, and I hope this one day is as refreshing as being there.

Hollis said...

very happy to find this post and poem this morning, thanks!

Ranger said...

You teach a night class in Turlock? Where can I learn more? Modesto is too far for me but Turlock is within reach. Please put up a link!

Garry Hayes said...

Earth Science at CSU Stanislaus, usually Wednesday nights from 7-10