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Destler Dodge

When a room is quiet, there’s an uncomfortable stillness in the air. High, electronic whines press in on our ears and make the enclosed spaces we live in feel even smaller. With a short trip over the Genesee River at Brookdale Preserve, however, I found the escape we so often need from the hum of everyday life.

Brookdale Preserve, located in Scottsville, is just a few short miles from RIT and is a part of the Genesee Land Trust. There’s a relaxed kind of quiet there, despite the proximity to RIT. Equally close to Jefferson Road and the Greater Rochester International Airport, the area is calm and sheltered from the outside world. Flowers and bushes cluster around the trailhead, hiding it from prying eyes. The trail is a narrow path, part of which is only officially recognized as a “deer trail.” 

The occasional buzz of a truck or airplane disturbs the peace, but the gentle silence resumes within moments. Trees rustle constantly in the preserve, coaxed into soft waves by the wind, and the trail is just breezy enough to keep most of the summer insects at bay. Both grasshoppers and birds chirp softly, alerting the rest of nature to the intruder in their space. Layering all those sounds gives the impression that the preserve would be loud, but they’re only noticeable when you settle into the quiet of the nature and discover that all the noises we find commonplace are absent. That’s the real escape: the space to hear and experience a completely different kind of quiet from the type found on campus.

Brookdale’s heart is even more of a getaway from the world. This spot is centered a half mile into the preserve in the form of a small pond. The water isn’t even 100 feet across at its widest point. Ending before the edge of the pond, the tree line fades into a vaguely circular meadow. There is a feeling of stillness around the pond, the sounds of the birds and animals even more subdued by the distance to the trees, their retreat insulating the clearing even further from society. 

Still, Brookdale Preserve isn’t without its flaws. Like most of the Rochester area, it’s a wetland. While that means that a surprising amount of bird and frog species inhabit the area, it also means that during a few choice weeks in the summer it is a particularly good breeding ground for flying insects.

Somehow, civilization still finds ways to peek into the semi-secluded preserve. Early on along the trail, part of the walkway follows a utility right-of-way. Also, a few beer cans were crushed and littered on the trail by college students or bow hunters intent on leaving some ineffectual mark on nature.

On the Greenway, brief flashes of cars are visible at the opposite end and worn telephone poles slouch at oblique angles along the trail. Hidden near there, just on the edge of the Genesee Greenway, is a small glimpse of manicured grass and playing fields – part of a housing development. That short distance to civilization was barred by glaring “Private Property” signs. Still, these appearances were few and far between. 

Despite those reminders of civilization, Brookdale remains a welcome escape from RIT and the crowded suburban area in which we live. Close-by, beautiful and protected from further development, the preserve is the perfect way to escape from the busy life of an RIT student.