October is probably my favorite month. The weather is beautiful, the leaves change colors, it starts to get dark earlier… I just really love autumn. For this month’s nature observation, I once again returned to Sorin Oak. I have found that, when there are no other people around, this is a fantastic place to sit and reflect on life. This month, however, I changed my timing up a bit. I ended up visiting the tree more during the day and a few times in the morning.
As Leopold writes in A Sand County Almanac, “Early risers feel at ease with each other, perhaps because, unlike those who sleep late, they are given to understatement of their own achievements.” I fall into the category of those who sleep late and do not understand the motivations of morning people. However, I did find myself awake quite early (around 7AM) the Saturday after Founder’s Day and decided to find out what was so great about the morning. Because of the holiday weekend, there is no one to be seen at that hour on campus, and I am able to sit and enjoy a mug of very strong coffee as I watch the sun rise and observed the rambunctious squirrels scampering about. The squirrels seem particularly lively lately, perhaps because of the nice weather.
While I am definitely NOT a morning person, I can see why some people do prefer to wake early. The sun has not yet had time to warm the air, so the temperatures are still quite cool. As I watch the world around me slowly awaken, I am struck by the beauty of it. The sun’s rays starting to shine through the leaves of the tree above me; the morning dew glistening on the grass and beginning to evaporate; the bright and jovial sounds of the birds performing their morning chorus. I take all of these things in, inhale them with the pleasantly cool fall air, and breathe out a sigh of contentment. The only thing that can ruin moments like these is the sudden realization that you have foolishly and unknowingly chosen to place your foot in the path of ants, something that one does not realize until they are being bitten repeatedly. I quickly find a new place to sit, but I really cannot get too mad at the ants. After all, I was the one who intruded into their territory and placed my foot in their path. They are simply doing their best to remove this large, obstructive human. This is only something I realize in hindsight, however. Ant bites are not pleasant.
One major difference I notice between my midday nature observances and those in the early morning or late at night is that there are many more cars driving by during the day. In fact, that is the thing that pulls me back to reality as I groggily sit beneath the tree in the morning. At a certain point, I can see and hear cars on the street nearby, and the oasis I have created through my commune with nature is shattered.