Geoffrey Hicks Photograph


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October 21, 2008   

Early this morning, as the drizzle of cold rain sprayed my face and raincoat, as the beauty of pumpkin-colored leaves shook and were strewn through the air, and as the sky darkened, brightened, and darkened again, a rare and unidentifiable feeling arose in me. It was neither exclusive bliss nor sadness, nor could the blending of these two emotions define my state. Nostalgia, perhaps, was a closer description, although I felt more aware of the present moment, or even the future, than the past.  I was not underwhelmed by the joys which ritualistically accompany the changing seasons, nor could I feign immunity to the loveliness that was autumn.

I had classes first thing in the morning and then went to the library where I read and bumped into some close friends.  And my Tuesday schedule for the rest of the morning was the same as usual.  I spent the majority of the afternoon reading a very challenging selection from an anthology for my literary theory and criticism course, and not long into it, I found myself gazing out the windows. I was situated in one of the study classrooms that had been built along the new Kirner Johnson building (KJ) on the old Kirkland side of campus. 

The Kirkland campus faces southward. Upon it, the remaining construction of the new Kirner Johnson—which houses the government and economics classes and departments, as well as other social sciences—undergoes daily maintenance and modifications with construction workers driving the project toward completion. The room in which I studied is located on the first floor at the very southeast corner of the building. Two of the room’s four walls are designed as enormous glass windows, giving the room a breathtaking rural authenticity. I felt as much inside the room as I felt outside of it, projected into the picturesque autumn setting. 

From inside the room I was shielded from the cold rains, which now fell harder, and from the winds which pressed against the glass.  I could see the grey sky forming more homogenously out of the merging clusters of dense, rain-heavy clouds. I witnessed the construction workers shovel up dirt and drive their trucks down the flattened gravel roads between Minor Field and the Kirner Johnson building. And for a brief moment, I noticed one of the workers looking at me with a meaningful expression on his face. From inside the glass room, I looked outside as the leaves continued to fly from the tops of trees.