Celebrate Spring in Hillsdale

Written by Brynn Elson

As a biochemistry major, I might be a little biased when it comes to the scientific method—but I think that observation is one of the purest and best activities that a person can partake in. Whether you observe with the goal of noticing patterns or simply for the sake of taking in a beautiful scene, you will reap some benefit. Sight and time are both precious, limited resources, so use them wisely.

This spring is my first one in Hillsdale. Every small leaf, greening lawn, and blossoming tree sparks a memory of last spring, when most of these small miracles of nature went unadmired. The memory of our absence is a gentle reminder to appreciate Hillsdale’s beauty. This spring, my goal of celebrating the season in Hillsdale sparked a few poignant reflections.

Last night, I took a short walk across campus—nothing special, just a jaunt from AJ’s to Kendall to find the water bottle that I had misplaced earlier in the day. I spent less than five minutes outside, but they were five glorious minutes. The sun had just slipped behind the Old Snack Bar, and its low rays illuminated the wisps of cloud in the sky. A few chattering birds swooped over the Quad, their chirps echoing through the still evening air.

It was that hour of perfect stillness between the hubbub of the day and the quiet rustlings of the night. Even the air seemed to hold its breath as the sun slipped below the horizon. I held my breath too, trying to soak in all the beauty I could. I returned to the student union more peaceful than when I left it, thanks to the barely-chilly spring evening that had calmed my nerves.

My favorite spring miracles are the sun’s ever-earlier wake-up calls. Today, I ran out of my dorm before 7 a.m. As I ran along the tree-lined path to Baw Beese, the only sounds were the skipping of my feet on the ground, the chorus of birds in the trees, and the wind in my ears.

I got to the lake fifteen minutes after sunrise. At last, I could see the sun peeking through the trees. It looked like a bright gold medallion. Maybe for this reason, the sun’s morning rays are more precious than any other. The gold-gilded water was a kaleidoscope: a multitude of blues with waves tinged with sunrise pink—and up close, it was diamond-clear. 

I walked onto the short pier and stopped short, hearing what sounded like footsteps following me. I turned around. No one was there. In fact, no one was visible as far as my eyes could see. I realized that the lake was slapping against the bottom of the pier, making the footstep noises. I was truly alone, and I relished the feeling. Where on campus can you experience the feeling of being the only human being for miles?

This is another essential component of experiencing spring, and nature in general: you should be alone. That’s not to say that you can’t appreciate the beauty of a garden bed or a green lawn with your friends. However, you’ll be better equipped to clear your head in solitude.

The concept of “experiencing spring” is somewhat elusive: you can’t purchase a “spring experience” in the same way that you can buy a “cruise experience” or “Disney experience.” The best way to appreciate spring is to simply sit and revel in it. At the end of March, I made a spring bucket list—and now, at the beginning of May, I’ve barely crossed anything off. I found that I was too busy to do things like “press flowers” or “go spelunking.” I’m guessing that my fellow students are in the same boat: this time of year is one of the most beautiful, yet also one of the most stressful. I found that I could enjoy spring not by taking more time out of my day to tick things off yet another to-do list, but by being more mindful with the time I already had. My walk to Kendall to retrieve my water bottle could have been just that: an errand. Instead, I chose to make it a nature walk. My run to Baw Beese could have been a routine slog to burn calories—but instead, I made it an adventure.

The mortality of the spring flowers is a reminder of our limited time here: this season only lasts for a few months, and we’re only college students for four short years. It’s a shame that the pandemic took some of that time away from us, so we should be grateful for every second we have left. The realization that I missed out on this beautiful season last year has made me even more appreciative of it this time around. Our time at Hillsdale is stressful and challenging, but it’s also a period of extreme growth. In that sense, the college years are the “springtime” of our lives.

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Brynn Elson, ’23, is a biochemistry major with a decent comprehension of the English language. She enjoys drinking coffee, playing the clarinet, and overcommitting to things. When she’s not studying (which is rare), you might be able to find her running (read: getting lost) on the back roads or complaining about Hillsdale’s lack of mountains.

Published in May 2021