Not the first place I communed with nature (is that now illegal?), but a most special place. The University of Washington had a grove that was surrounded by trees, where the original columns of the University were located. Since this grove was not a shortcut to anyplace, it was secluded and on a campus of 30,000 daily students, that’s not so easily done.
But it provided a peaceful place to commune with nature, think of the wonders of the world and a few times, commiserate with a girl on the special path that once brought us together, but was now going in different directions. A grove full of beauty, but also melancholy.
In those days, the ‘70’s, what really made Seattle special was the ability to go in virtually any direction and find solitude, big trees and at worst, the occasional logging truck. Many a night was spent driving around Mt. Rainier. In those days, the mountain passes were kept open, yet at the same time, there was virtually no traffic after 9 p.m. so it was a quick four hour trip. By the time I left the UW 4 years later, there were few roads not traveled.
But the first place I communed with nature was not in Washington State nor the University of Washington, but instead in Washington Square Park, in the middle of a little place called Greenwich Village. I’d ride my bike to the park and read James Fenimore Cooper, propped up against a tree. I couldn’t be in the Adirondacks, so for a City kid, this is as good as it got. Somewhat of a loner in high school, high school was chore to get done. One of the reasons I think I was a good high school teacher, I understood the angst that high school brings to most kids.
Then as a principal, everything I did was to put kids first; the push-back from some teachers was intense and virulent, in a personal way that I had never experienced before, that people outside the system would find shocking. But it was the right battle to have at the right time and I had a wonderful team of teachers who supported kids and their learning.
Though It did get me to Dauntless, sooner, rather than later. Fate is like that, a sweet kiss on the cheek as it smacks you on the ass.
So now I commune with nature on the seven seas. Trading the damp smell of earth, the multitudes of forest green: ferns and grass, needles and leaves for the rhythmic swell of the ocean, whispering of storms far away, while dolphins frolic in our bow wave.