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Monday Musings: The Magic of Fall

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is absolutely one of my favorite quotes (and one of Samantha’s favorite authors). There are very few statements that feel as true to me. Something magical happens in those early days of fall, when the mornings are cold but the sun warms the day and layers of clothing have to be added and removed accordingly.

It’s especially magical when you are spending time on a college campus, and we are both fortunate to work in this environment. In fact, I first wrote about this fall phenomenon as a junior creative writing student in a personal essay class. When the first assignment was presented, I had no idea what to use for subject matter. I ended up writing about everything from Cheetos to Jimmy Buffett that semester, but my very first personal essay was about autumn on my college campus. And that’s when I fell in love with this style of writing--pre-blogging! And someday, when I have time to really clean my crazy basement, I’ll find my college writing and share just what I wrote back in the early 2000’s.

For now, I’ll share what I’m currently appreciating about fall on a college campus. It might feel a little different this year, because I’m wearing a mask and it’s a little harder to appreciate that cool breeze on my face and the smell of the leaves. But it’s still so beautiful. The key is that you have to get up early--the earlier the better. It might be cold, and that’s part of what makes it so special. Your sweatshirt might smell a little musty from being tucked away all summer, and that’s okay, too.

You might remember how pretty the campus buildings look as the sun hits them, just starting to warm those upper floors. As you walk, you might see your breath for the first time this season. It’s still early enough in the semester that students are excited for what is to come, and not weighed down by assignments, research and papers just yet.

But maybe the very best are the leaves. Regardless of the architecture or location, almost every campus around has beautiful, mature trees of all varieties. Here in the Midwest, we are almost always graced with fall color--oranges, reds, yellows and browns. And this warm beauty is one of the most magnificent parts of walking those stone paths and brick sidewalks.

One of my favorite memories of a college fall is meeting a good friend from the dorm across the street to walk to class. Sometimes she brought me a warm breakfast sandwich that you could only get from her hall, and we ate them as we hiked towards class; the steam coming off the biscuits and mingling with our exhalations. The world seemed full of excitement and anything was possible. And every time I’ve stepped onto a campus in the fall since, I feel a hint of this remarkable magic.

So, throw on your old backpack with a few good books to weigh it down, and take a walk down your favorite tree-lined street, remembering days on your college campus. Because while we may not want to start completely over, there’s nothing like a breath of fresh air.

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