Our paths are pebbled at Rice University

What’s with the pebbles embedded in the concrete? They make it harder for wheelchairs to get around. The carts carrying plants from the growth chambers on the roof of the biology building over to the biochemistry building (M.D. Anderson to George R. Brown to be specific) rattle and shake over the stones, drowning our our lunchtime conversations at the picnic tables. Wash U has them too, so maybe it is a sign of an elite private university.

I like the trees. Look at what a prairie Rice was built in. Unimaginable now (see lower photograph). The grove of trees that is the current campus is so much nicer, I suppose, though prairies have their charms. This grove had drain tiles and new paths laid through it to celebrate a young couple who met there and turned out wealthy. It is a nice story, but the ones I like the best are on campus now.

Scott Solomon, a brilliant recent hire by EEB, is cataloguing the campus. He has a website called http://wild.rice.edu that is worth checking out. We numbered the trees, back when my students were charting where the yellow-crowned night herons nested. I bet there isn’t much besides house sparrows and American robins nesting on the less-treed Wash U campus. It isn’t the tree numbers that are worth looking for. It is the animals, insects, birds, even squirrels.

It’s hot in Houston now, really hot. It’s hot here too. We went to Soulard farmers market with friends from Minnesota. We were warm; they were miserable. I noticed our heat-acclimated Houston bodies knew enough to sweat to coolness, or at least warmth, while our Minnesota friends stayed dry and hot. Houston, if nothing else, you taught us to sweat. I guess compared to that, pebbled paths and their noise should be tolerated.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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One Response to Our paths are pebbled at Rice University

  1. David c says:

    I think they just don’t want skateboarders to use the paths.

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