Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wonderful trees and nature on Radford University campus

                               Tulip Tree

    It was extremely sunny and bright, the light blue sky almost cloudless. I told my college class, in order to have a "Zen" in the moment experience, that they needed to turn off their cell phones and just experience things then and there. And I think most of them did.
    We first parked ourselves in the Alumni garden. This is a good place to sit and relax, I tell them. I point out the "purple leaf" plum tree, which has tiny little fruits, the tiny, peeling, paper bark maple, and that there are many sayings on the wall that enclose this garden, such as Keats' "a thing of beauty is a joy forever" quote. We sit among some meadow sage with its smelly, almost minty scent. I pull off a piece and pass it around for them to smell. The red and white begonias (the school colors) surround an old, black bell in front of us.
    But the class (as it turned out for those who wrote about this) was more entranced by the koi and goldfish pond across the way, where the fish casually swim about and there are benches nearby they can sit on and watch them on. A kind of murky little waterfall goes into this pond, and they tell me they'd never been here before.
    At one point I take these heavy guidebooks out of the backpack I've got on (I'm usually carrying my papers in a laptop sized briefcase) and hand them out. I point out a tree with round, heart shaped leaves and ask them, based on the guidebook, what tree it is. "I'll give you a hint -- it has pink flowers?"
    "Redbud?" Michael asks.
    "Right!" Mostly, though, they didn't know ANY of the trees on campus, not the unusual Bald Cypress (a swamp tree in the middle of campus), not the Dawn/Don redwood (with the reddish bark), not the hemlock or tulip tree.
    With different groups you get different reactions to taking this kind of walk. I think "both" groups I took seemed to hang back behind me, like 15, 20 feet (!) like I bite or something. I'm sure they thought me an odd duck with all my "nature" stuff, and some of them STILL had their cell phones, on, the addicts!

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