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Getting out in the Field, Asking New Questions

It’s mid-afternoon and I’m standing in the woods at Rolley Lake, holding my portable field recorder. Every bump of my hand will be recorded as a loud creak, so I stand as still as possible. I hear a bird call I don’t recognize, reverberating through wet leaves. The Scouts troop starts yapping like coyotes. Another group across the lake howls back, creating a tangle of lovely echoes. A squirrel skitters out of the shrubbery. Planes drone above. A metal garbage lid slams shut.

From beside the creek, my young nephew tells another kid that we are “having sound.” That’s a delicious way to put it—just like having dinner. We use headphones with recorders to amplify noises, so we can hear further. Focusing this way brings the environment to life with shapes we didn’t notice before.

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I research Mission’s recreational forests and how they relate to my identity, local community, history, and politics. This research means lon