Three days of 40-degree weather and clear skies and the campus is a cacophony of melting snow. Rivulets of snow-drops fall in tiny rows from the roofline of my every building, their pitter-patter sound like the little feet of Spring come marching up to Winter. The soil here is sandy with a lot of give. There is a bounce back from the loam. At first it drags you down, then it sends you ever so slightly up.
I can’t explain to you quite how much I miss the sloping forests of mountain life, or the rushing water after a snowmelt, or the way the wind whips down the mountain face. But I can tell you that on days like today—with 9 student tutorials scheduled back to back after a full morning of teaching and an afternoon of meetings—all I look for when I step outside is the fastest path to the natural world.
Don’t get me wrong—the campus is beautifully designed with tall trees and lovely walkways throughout. But I needed to get lost. I needed permission to wander some old roads for a bit. To soak up the sun. To watch Spring as she makes her first determined steps.
Evidence was most abundant along the lake. That line I walked two months ago is wavering, rippled sand and green algae visible in the growing borderlands between ice and shore.
I wandered further; past the campus maintenance buildings to an old road that ended all too quickly. But before I started to miss Fork Mountain too much, I discovered this:
A bench graveyard! Row upon row of ancient Interlochen benches. How many famous musicians? How many hopeful parents? How many kids in their uniform knickers have sat in these very benches and dreamed the dream of life-as-art and over how many years?
I backtracked and found the lake again, scaring up a grouse in the process. Somewhere in the distance I could hear a whip-poor-will calling from a hidden perch. I crossed the bridge and then the road back to main campus, but not without glimpsing the river and its melting borders.
Things are breaking up here, one form giving way to another. And even on my busiest day. Even after a state of the union conversation with the filmmaker. Even after not reading or writing or exercising as much as I wanted to today. Even after everything I can think of to think about. Ever after all that, the leap into spring always makes me feel like anything is possible.