The following is a letter to the editor and photos submitted by Katie Walker a Junior studying communication. If you wish to submit a letter to the editor email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You better bundle up!” my grandparents chuckled as I prepared to leave my sunny sanctuary of Tucson, Arizona. I had heard good things about the spirit of BYU-Idaho, but stories of its formidable winters made me feel a little hesitant. Little did I know that come May, one corner of this campus would become a far different place.
It was the first week of classes in April; my second semester. I was winded beyond belief. Since the winter cold hadn’t killed me, having most of this semester’s classes at the top of the hill in the Hinckley and Ricks buildings would. With just minutes to spare, I dashed through the last leg of the race to class through the Ricks Gardens. A seemingly endless spectrum of color swirled around each corner as I whizzed past purple, yellow, and green petals and leaves.
I found myself looking out the classroom window at the sunny landscapes I could explore, if I weren’t stuck in class. Finally, 11:15 a.m. comes and goes — I am outside. I pass by white benches, picket fences, and rustic stone walkways and walls. The breeze is cool but the sun kisses my skin with a deliberate, present warmth.
A couple weeks in, pink blossoms sprouted thickly atop trees that greeted each visitor, creating a canopy of cotton candy overhead. I looked forward to walking past those trees every day.
I had a regular route home. However, I soon found myself wandering down unfamiliar paths. What is behind those trees? What lies nestled in those speckles of shadow and sun in the distance? Taking the long way home didn’t usually appeal to a student like me wired to find the most convenient and efficient way of doing things — until now.
The boughs that draped along these unfamiliar paths embraced me as they shook off the dew from the previous night’s rainfall. I took photos along the way that often prompted awestruck messages from many of my Snapchat friends.
My feet felt wet, and I noticed a distinct feeling of grass and soil sneaking into my leather sandals. For a short time, my shoes found their way into my hands as I escaped into another world.
Brief adventures after class quickly turned into lingering rest stops, and eventually, homework sessions spent camping out in my new-found verdant home.
Pasty, Rexburgian legs relished bathing in the warm sun, cooled by the shade of swaying branches. Such blissful afternoons brought fear of dozing off and acquiring a biting, beet-red sunburn.
“Did you want a ride home, Katie?” my friend said
“No thanks, I think I’ll walk today,” I replied.
Having church in the Ricks building positioned me perfectly to meander through the gardens on my way home; pondering, breathing. Sundays were always the perfect day to take the long way home.
As I reflected in the shimmering pool of lily pads, I reflected on the day’s worship. Being immersed in God’s creations made it easy to feel a greater gratitude for them, and the overflow of blessings He offered in that moment, in that spot.
One day, as dusk settled into this small circle of Rexburg life, I was presented an opportunity. With a few spare hours and a camera in hand, I got to work. There is so much diversity in just one place; plants donned full, towering afros perfectly styled for their glamorous close-ups. The structures and sculptures scattered throughout created a perfect juxtaposition with the organic wildlife that permeated around them.
The sun dipped behind the horizon and my fingers became increasingly immobilized by the frigid air. Fatigued by picture-taking, the great expanse of blankets of grass enticed me, and I found the perfect place to read a good book. I had never breathed such fresh air before.
Once or twice (or three times), I interrupted my walk to class to pluck single blossoms off the hanging branches that waved to me as I walked past. I’ve been told flowers suit my dark brown curls.
The birth of spring brought other new beginnings. Quietly trickling waterfalls became the perfect soundtrack to friendly conversation as I engaged in timid laughter and with inquiring questions and eyes. The flitting butterflies nearby mirrored the butterflies in my stomach as new and exciting relationships formed in this ideal spot for a spontaneous lunch.
Weeks passed and my cotton candy friends began to shed their luscious petals. As they fluttered down to the ground, I was reminded of the passage of time and the transiency of these beloved trees. A helplessness set in as I told myself I had to enjoy it while it lasted.
The wilt and fade of these plants was inevitable. Much like the chilly evenings on the lawn, a melancholy bitter-sweetness set in as good things came to an end. New seasons caused well-worn roots to be unearthed with the chance to start anew one day, and the sun of friendship dipped behind the horizon of passing time. Our own well-worn roots retain memories as they are pulled from the soil of life, season after season.
My mischievously acquired keepsakes from those spring days still sit on my windowsill. On particularly cold, gloomy days, these fossilized relics remind me that, soon enough, I again will take the long way home.