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Fall at Hamilton

October 5, 2012   

In Texas, we have four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Christmas. Fall does not exist, really. Sure, we have Halloween and Thanksgiving, and it stops getting into the 100s, and Starbucks still sells pumpkin spice lattes, but the truth of the matter is I never knew what fall was until last year.

And fall at Hamilton is truly magical.

Before Hamilton, I could never understand how people found the death of foliage beautiful, except maybe in some twisted, morbid sense. I lived for March and April, when life was abundant and the world was green and budding and new, and really only appreciated the autumn for the holidays associated with it.

But up here, in the forested hills of Clinton, the trees don’t just die and decay and litter the ground with broken, browned leaves – they go out with a bang, not a whimper. The glen goes up in flames, a slow-burning fire of yellows and reds and golds. Every tree is a firework setting off in slow motion, every leaf a tiny sun, burning out.

Like I said: magical.

It was startling, though, to watch the Hill catch fire as a freshman. I was prepared for the cold. I was prepared for the snow. I was prepared for long, cloudy weeks and short hours of sunlight and a true, New York winter. I was not prepared for a season I never knew I had missed.

Even now, after a year, I still revel in the brilliant, bursting beauty of Hamilton as the land descends into winter. Some days, I just walk into the glen and purposefully get lost, just to have an excuse to wander through the golden trees.

(I never thought Robert Frost’s “yellow wood” could exist in actuality; apparently it’s called Root Glen in October, and I can see it from my bedroom window.)

Some days in February, when it’s cold and wet and I’m definitely not dressed properly and having too much fun whining about the snow, I long to be back in the sun and warmth of Texas. They’re fleeting moments, because my new friends aren’t in Texas and my classes aren’t in Texas and Hamilton isn’t Texas, but they happen. Winter is long for a southerner like me.

But even if Hamilton winters lasted until June and the snow piled up to my fourth-floor window and the sun set at noon, I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Hill. Hamilton falls are worth all that and then some.