Today, my classmates at Middlebury College begin their first day of fall classes. Today, as my peers wake up, shuffle to the dining hall and head to their 101s, 350s and 400s, I begin my first official day as a full-time athlete (with an off-day..but that’s beside the point).
Sure, I have a good four months of preparation under my belt, but this wasn’t my first summer focusing on training. It will, however, be my first fall. For the first time, I am putting the athlete before the student. It’s new and terrifying, but also really, really exciting.
As a senior in high school, I was drawn to Middlebury for various reasons, but the thing that really sealed the deal, the one that put the school at the top of my Places-I-would-like-to-spend-four-years(more or less)-finding-myself list rests in the Abernathy Room of the library. In that basement room, amongst swaths of dusty manuscripts and various Robert Frost paraphernalia sits Henry David Thoreau’s personal copy of Walden. The minute I learned that Midd had that copy, an original manuscript littered with personal scribbles and edits by the author himself, the college search ended. I was in deep.
If you’ve taken a high school English class in the United States, you’ve read Walden. (If you haven’t…shutchomouth. Shut cho mouth right now. Close your computer, get a copy and read up. Now. No really. Go.) As a 17 year old, I was particularly drawn to the second-to-last chapter “Spring,” in which Thoreau describes his preference for the season. I would revisit its excerpts on a daily basis, drawn (in part by my teenage angst and insecurity) to Thoreau’s musings of reinvention.
He describes how in springtime, sinners are cleansed of their missteps, friendships are renewed and potential restored. To him, the spring brings about a sense of youth in the world. He writes, “Such is the contrast between winter and spring. Walden was dead and is alive again…calm and full of hope.”
Well, no offense to Thoreau, but to me Spring is where hope goes to die. Fall, however, better incites a feeling of calm. Chilly mornings and changing leaves in Lake Placid have gotten me feeling all fuzzy, and I can’t help but sense that same potential Thoreau describes, but for an altogether different season. While the big H decided to wing it in the woods with the plus of watching spring roll in, I’ve taken a chance in the ski world with my sights set on the fruits of fall.
Autumn. It just sounds crisp, doesn’t it? A time for cozy socks, ciders, pumpkins, candles and ghosts. Blankets, sweaters, leaves and scarves. Also, candy corn. So. much. candy corn.
For me, fall also means promise. On the brink of snowfall, we only have a few more months to soak up the glory of anticipation. Though tormenting, the wait has its value. Right now, before the big show, our hopes are as pure as they’ll ever be. Like children on Christmas Eve, we have nothing before us but imagination and possibility.
Here, we may only look forward, it’s a time when “We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us…and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities.” I’m certainly enjoying the accident that befell me. I hope that you are, too.
To my classmates, good luck this semester! To everyone else, happy fall!