Many marvel at the numerous wonders that the world holds and stare off into the distance dreaming of these far away sights. What they fail to recognize is the amount of fascination that can be found by just stepping outside their back door, myself included. This is why I chose my spot of observation to be a place that’s very small and often quite overlooked because it is somewhat secluded. I have been observing the small courtyard at the far end of my dorm, East Hall. Residing there is a very simple little setup showing the progression from the rock-filled landscape of my building onto the beauty of the hill this university was built upon. The area consists of a concrete patio with an “L” shaped flowerbed/planter, the surrounding grass, and a tree overlooking the far end of campus.
A quick and easy judgment to make of this spot, especially from looking that the pictures available, is that it is gray, somber, maybe even a little melancholy. It was the near end of January and after already having been through a “mini-freeze” in Austin, Texas, much of the vegetation in this area looked rather dead and/or was lucky to still be alive. The weather depicted in the current photos was not helping as it was 47 degrees Fahrenheit and cold and dry winds were blowing at about 20 mph. Any of the “greenery” left was dulling into shades ranging from yellow to red to brown and the idea of “survival of the fittest” was taking its toll on the small sprouting buds and berries grasping for life in the midst of a harsh winter. Any animals, insects, wildlife whatsoever that was filling this natural sight have fled for shelter as another freeze approaches and the wind helps silence this miniature ecosystem. Putting up a fight against roaring blows, I watch as “a tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.” (Leopold 66) At a first glance this place looks dead, but that is not how I see it.
I choose to see this area not as beaten because of winter’s wrath, but as a space for potential as spring will breathe new life into this land in the next coming months. The land here and all it is trying to provide is struggling to make it to a time where it can be born again; where each leaf and root and creature can start over. I find its dismal beauty spellbinding as I get to look at nature’s bare minimum, study the reality of it, and know that it will supply great things for us as time goes on. Though usually “the calm before the storm,” I had the opportunity to see the strife nature takes on and appreciate this tree, that grass, those bushes and more in what could be considered their biggest challenge. Knowing they will grow strong from their delicate and fragile state allows me to be thankful for the peace they will receive later and the sight I was privileged to observe.
The natural world, no matter how far or close in distance, can teach many things. I, like many others, get the chance to start over in this new semester. As I continue to watch over the progression of the mini world outside my window, maybe I should take a couple lessons from it myself.