When was the last time you did something out of curiosity’s sake?
Everything I do at Colby seems very goal-oriented. I go from task to task, just trying to get things done as best as I can before I move on to the next project. Honestly, I hate this confining structure – I feel like I’m running through life with my head down.
Luckily, I found an escape from this routine in an unlikely place this week – Ecology lab. Usually in lab we do typical lab stuff – working on an ongoing project in order to learn a bit, finish the lab, and then move onto the next. However, this week, our lab had no assignment or long-term purpose – it was designed to be an experience in and of itself.
Tuesday afternoon found my ecology class at the Orono Bog Boardwalk, located at the edge of the Bangor City Forest and owned in part by the University of Maine at Orono. The cold November air and golden afternoon sun were a fresh relief from the confines of a classroom. Our tour guides lead us around the boardwalk; explaining the different elements of the bog, pointing out interesting plants, and describing research being conducted at the bog. We moved slowly, taking time to crouch down and peer into the mouth of a carnivorous pitcher plant or uncover the bright yellow roots of the gold thread plant.
I could sense the ties our tour guides felt to this place – their attachment to the bog sown deeper than a question asked in the name of science, their love for the place stemming instead from a personal connection with the land and their deep understanding of how it functioned. I found this passion, this emotion, more telling than the names of the plants I learned or the facts they told us about how nutrients cycle through the system. These facts could all be researched later. Instead, what I took from the trip was the place that curiosity and sense of wonder have in driving scientific research.