I just got back to campus from a vacation to Vancouver, British Columbia for our 4-day fall break. I went with twelve of my best friends, and it was so nice to get off campus for a little while. I love going away, even for just a few days, because it allows me to rediscover the magic of Whitman’s campus. Every time I come back to Walla Walla from the big wide world, I am struck once more with wonder at the sheer beauty of the college–the landscaping, the architecture, and how the two play off each other.
In the fall, the Whitman campus is at its best. The individuals who planned the college’s landscaping really knew what they were doing, because the trees change colors here in a cascade, with one species following another, until the whole campus is imbued with pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds. It all glows.
One of my favorite memories of my time on campus comes from a glorious fall day during my sophomore year. Three friends and I had been studying in the library all afternoon, and decided to treat ourselves to an early dinner in town. We walked across Whitman’s green lawns in that special time that filmmakers call “The Magic Hour,” when the light is soft enough that everything is surrounded by an illuminated halo.
Walking over the bridge on our way towards Prentiss Hall, I looked down on college creek. In a small pond, the long arms of willows dipped towards the water. Ducks dawdled on the glassy surface. Sun drenched the color-saturated leaves, and everything was awash in that kaleidoscopic light. I couldn’t help myself–I was choked up (verklempt, as my mom would say) by the beauty of all of it. My friends and I were all thinking the same thing: we live in paradise. In that moment, Whitman was the most beautiful place that I had ever seen, and absolutely the only place I wanted to be. It was one of those times when you are unexpectedly overcome with fondness. Those moments leave their marks, and this particular one causes me to anticipate the coming of fall each year.
As we drove through the entire state of Washington yesterday, we speculated that fall would be in full swing when we returned to campus. I imagined arriving to the paradisaical, colorful dreamworld of my memory. Fall is a little late this year, so many of the leaves have not yet begun to change, but seeing those first yellow leaves late yesterday afternoon filled me with excitement. Fall is coming.