The first time I visited Bryn Mawr’s campus was in April of 2015. I was a senior in high school and the cherry trees were in full bloom. I stayed with a current student whose life seemed unbelievable to me. She lived with her roommate in a chaotically messy room, unsupervised by adults, and at around 10 p.m. she took us to the art studio to paint, which seemed to me like the height of freedom and excess. I’ve been thinking of that weekend lately. Campus has been filled with the newest batch of prospective students, including one from my own former high school.
The cherry trees are in bloom again; we had a couple of hot, summery days this past weekend. It was a heat that seeps under your skin, a tangible heat. Now it’s back to gray, but I wanted to share some photos of the blossoms. The draping trees on the pathway outside of Rock erupted in garlands of pink and white petals overnight. The campus still looks wintry in some ways—the trees along senior row are totally bare—and it’s kind of funny to see the unevenness of the turning seasons.
A while ago I stumbled upon a treasure at a used book sale called “Twelve Moons of the Year,” which is a series of 365 little essays by Hal Borland. Each essay corresponds to a specific date, and observes some aspect of the natural world in that point of the year. It’s a very specific year, of course, a temperate, deciduous rural North American year. The whole project has an old-fashioned tone. It’s something from before the era of global warming, and long before the era of ubiquitous screens and social media. And that makes it all the more comforting to me: this idea that the world will always ebb and flow, and the beautiful things you remember will always come back faithfully. One of the essays in late April reads, “Now come the surge and the insistence of growth. For a few weeks we will scarcely be able to keep up with change, which is everywhere. The miracle is not so much in budding and leafing and the opening of petals, but in the very magnitude of burgeoning and blossoming…And every day is another moment in the incredible, inevitable genesis of another year.”
Why shouldn’t we call this the new year? We’re racing to the end of the semester, but it’s also a time of beginnings and returnings. High schools seniors prepare for the beginning of their college careers, and college seniors prepare to head down unknown paths. The blossoming around me is a reminder of where I was three years ago, just as much as it is a furious and insistent call toward new adventure.