Unfortunately for tree huggers such as myself, Long Island isn’t known for its wilderness- it’s known for being the home of modern suburbs. I’ve lived here all my life and constantly struggled to find areas untouched by development to disconnect in peace and silence to. The only place I’d go was to a small set of woods across from my house, where I’d walk every day. So when I first arrived at Stony Brook two months ago, my expectations for any sort of nature were nonexistent. But after an endless week of sitting in a baking, boring dorm I couldn’t stay locked up any longer. I immediately decided to just begin walking.
I pulled up a satellite map on my phone, and started walking towards the first big forested area I saw. The sun was beginning to set and the bugs were beginning to swarm, but I kept marching forward in hopes of finding anything to do. I probably should’ve put a little more thought/planning into where I was going because I got lost at least four times and it took me a little bit over an hour to walk there. But eventually I got there, and when I did, I was amazed.
The sun was long gone, so all I could see were these colossal, dark treetops engulfing most of the night sky. I wandered right along into the path of the woods, not being able to see a thing and praying I wouldn’t trip on anything. I was so overwhelmed by the nostalgic comfort of the forest that I just didn’t stop walking; then about ten minutes later I realized I was lost. Don’t ask me how long it took to get out or even how I got out, but I found the whole experience to be completely worth it. I highly recommend everyone wander these woods (perhaps not at night though).
Knowing there’s an oasis to reconnect to on campus is the best news I’ve gotten since being here. The stress of a normal school year in itself is high, but the pressure of this online-hybrid school year can be suffocating. Finding a place where you can disconnect and breathe in the fresh air is imperative now more than ever.
I decided to volunteer with the Ashley Schiff Preserve because I want students to know of its importance and benefits to not only the Earth but also our mental health. At my house the small set of woods helped me breathe easily, think clearly, and take time to appreciate the day. The Ashley Schiff Preserve fosters a similar outlet at Stony Brook. As a volunteer, the ability to help not only my peers but also the earth is invaluable.
I hope to see you all on the trails
October 9th, 2020
Karthik Pitchayan is a freshman majoring in Environmental Studies and Ecosystems and Human Impact at Stony Brook University. He grew up forty minutes east of Stony Brook in a suburban pseudo-farm with chickens, peacocks, and at one point a goat and a sheep