The Transcendentalist Observation Experiment


What is the experiment?

To write observations of the actual world over the next twelve days. (Oct 2nd - Oct 14th).
IF POSSIBLE, pick "a spot" in nature that you can return to over the course of these days.
Spend 5 - 10 minutes observing the natural surroundings in "your spot" and simply describe what you see in two lines (sentences).
It does not have to be the same time of day, but it can be. It does not have to be every day; however, you must have at least
SIX entries recorded on SIX different day in your google doc (See File Folder doc entitled T.O. Experiment)
For example, I shared the above image in class and asked you to make an observation. Perhaps your observation was similar to mine:

The light blue sky above the trees with multi-colored leaves are reflected in the calm water.
Smaller shrubs and grasses grow at the water's edge in a mix of shadow and light.

No metaphors. No similes. Try to actually experience "the spot" itself at some basic level. Just engage with your senses.
Remember how we discussed the ways in which the others senses (hearing, tasting, touch, smell) can be engaged
and become part of the observation experiment when you are in Nature?

Here are two quotes from Emerson to inspire you:

".. Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience."

"Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, --
all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all;
the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.


Here are my observations from the fall of 2014
(images are optional; if you include photos, no more than three):

My Transcendental Observation Spot - Sitting on a smooth, small "boulder" in my backyard (near "the buddha)
(Did you know, did you read -- in his biography - that Emerson "turned to the East" for some of his inspiration?)

Sept. 22nd: I see a squirrel nosing its way in the yard. He comes close to me, but pays me or the buddha no attention. He's busy.

Sept. 23rd: Birds are swooping in and out of the yard. Their target, the bird feeder. I notice that the sparrows are bolder than the chickadees.

(Am I a sparrow or a chickadee?)

Sept. 24th: I observed the contrast of sunlight and shadow upon the leaves. I delight in the changing colors of fall from my spot.

(What change is taking place in me at this time of year?)

Sept 25th: (Early morning.) It is very still. All I hear is the hum of traffic a few blocks away on Brown Deer Rd.

Sept 25th: (A few hours later.) The birds are back having thistle and sunflowers for breakfast. The smell of burning leaves or wood is in the air.

Sept 28th: Brown curled up leaves on the green grass: The young maple tree readies itself for winter. The sedum leans towards earth. A cool, crisp morning.

(What must I do to prepare for the changing of the seasons? What must fall to the ground? What must I give back to the earth?)

Sept 29th: A cold front arrives with rain and a chilly breeze. As the sun sets the birds are making a final visit to the feeder.




Here are my observations from Winter Break of 2014 - 2015
(images are optional; if you include photos, no more than three):


Dec 26th: (Morning Sunrise) Nearby darkened, bare Linden trees contrast with the brigthening Eastern sky.

I feel a strange warmth on a late December day.


Dec. 27th: The backyard, dampened by an overnight rain. Little movement in this small corner of earth.

Everything appears to be waiting in the balance of what this day will bring.

Dec. 28th: Two grand oaks tower above me. High above the squirrel's nest and the clouds moving northward.


Dec. 31st: A bright, blue, sunsplashed sky and frigid temps chill the air. The shadows from the towering oaks stretch across the yard.

(I wonder how my shadow impacts the world around me?)

Jan 3rd: Meteorologists would call the day a "wintery mix." What I see is the brownish-green lawn covered in white, the air is moist
with fog, drizzle, and snowflakes. It looks and feels like a wintery mix indeed.

(So often my day feels like a wintery mix of measureable moods and changeable responses to people.)

Jan 4th: A frozen, snow-covered morning scene before my eyes. With every step I hear the snow compact beneath my feet --
While all around me the wind blows the snow from the tree branches. It finally looks and feels like winter in Wisconsin.


I see a snow -covered pond and surrounding forrest in thebright sunlight.
The shadows of the intersecting barren tree branches spread across the frozen surface.