Last Monday, I escaped for a while.
I was en route to the library to do some homework, when I stopped to chat with a friend of mine on Middle Path. A chat turned into a conversation turned into a two-hour-long discussion. I never made it to the library.
Over dinner, she invited me to join her on a hike over the observatory trail under the harvest moon, and I enthusiastically accepted. She’d never explored the BFEC before, and coming from Egypt, she informed me she’d never even seen a forest. We met up with some folks in front of the Bookstore at 8:15, ready to walk. The group coalesced into a messy pack and began chatting as we moved toward the trail.
There was a pleasant, gentle excitement among us. We knew this wasn’t going to be a life-changing experience, but we were enthusiastic nonetheless. It was an opportunity to enjoy time with friends and take a nice walk through the woods. And I’ve discovered while at Kenyon that little things like walks through the woods with peers can make one’s academic stress so much more bearable. When that thought entered my mind, I realized I had never actually gotten a start on my work.
“Oh, lord,” I broke as we entered the trail through the tightly packed trees. “I just remembered — I still have a ton to do tonight for my Fiction class.”
“Nope,” my friend corrected me through a smile. “No. It doesn’t exist right now. The work? It doesn’t exist, okay?” she laughed as we all chatted and marched along the soil and wet leaves.
“Fine,” I laughed with her. “Fine. For now, the work doesn’t exist.” And I finally gave myself up wholly to the rhythm of my footsteps through the forest, guided only by our flashlights and the soothing sway of Neil Young’s voice coming from one of the trip leader’s speakers. We made our way to the summit of the hill, where the observatory sat as if it were waiting for us (but not without a stop to admire a lovely little toad along the side of the road first!).
Without interruption, as if this had been the plan the whole time, we each dispersed with a few feet between us, and my friend pulled out two blankets from her bag. We all sat underneath an exuberant harvest moon sky whose cloudiness still couldn’t break the mood. We took the clouds in stride, as if they were just joining along for the quiet harvest party among the changing leaves and crisp autumn air.
Neil Young’s song “Harvest Moon” played quietly. “There’s a full moon risin’ / Let’s go dancin’ in the light,” he sang, “We know where the music’s playin’ / Let’s go out and feel the night!” His voice seemed to harmonize with the constant buzz of the crickets that danced through the wildgrasses nearby. The brilliant moon, grasses, distant chitter chatter and laughter all came together in sway to the gentle rhythm of Neil Young’s early autumn tune. It was an inaugural celebration of the arrival of changing trees, pumpkin patches, apple cider and warm blankets, and there was a feeling in the air that even the moon was happy to be there.
Eventually, most people left, but I knew the way home through the BFEC, so my friend and I stayed out a while longer and basked under the light of the full moon while I played her some classic ’60s and ’70s music. Per her request, I’ve now become her “old American music tutor,” and I have no complaints.
It seems that whenever I venture into the BFEC, the experience cements itself in my mind as one of my favorite memories from Kenyon. It’s a strange pattern that I can’t quite explain, and the truth is, I don’t very much feel the need to. Maybe all it means is that I need to go to the BFEC more often. It was a lovely, dreamy night under a full moon, and maybe the next full moon, I’ll go out and make the trek again. As “Harvest Moon” begins, “Come a little bit closer / Hear what I have to say / Just like children sleepin’ / We could dream this night away.”
Here’s to dreaming the night away under a full moon every once in a while.