Thursday, November 4, 2010


I don’t want to try your patience with yet more melancholic reflections on autumn. I’ll totally understand if you move on to less wistful and pensive blogs, though my intention, I can assure you, is not to come across as pathetic. Earlier this afternoon during a ten-minute break from class I went to the Shoppette located on the next floor down to get some coffee. There’s a short walkway from the exit door of the school building to the convenient store that overlooks well-trimmed lawns, parking lots, and buildings off in the distance. It rained lightly throughout the day, but in the most pleasant way. It’s as if the raindrops, the dampness in the air, and the glistening puddles of water mirrored the state of my inner being.

While South Carolina isn’t exactly in the peak of the season, the rust and crimson colors of the trees set against green lawns and the brick buildings caught me unawares as I was returning to class with coffee cup in hand. In the foreground of this picture was a sort of parapet or promontory-like terrace upon which soldiers in their ACU uniforms were smoking and talking. This entire scenario, for reasons I know not, enticed my aesthetic eye and left me standing there against the railing, looking longingly into the auburn face of autumn.

I wasn’t completely lost in a reverie, mind you, for I was conscious of the soldiers and instructors walking to and fro behind me. I felt like that guy in Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” who’s on the brink of leaving his commitments behind and venturing out into the snowy landscape that takes ahold of his imagination. While the man’s horse shook its harness bells to keep his master on task, I had loud, boisterous soldiers snapping me back to reality. Unfortunately, a staff sergeant saw tears trickling down my cheeks and asked if I was okay. Embarrassed at being caught in an unguarded moment of lachrymose contemplation and reverence for nature, I told him that I was not crying—no sir; rather, I had a bad case of conjunctivitis. He grimaced and quickly moved on.

Truth be told, I really wasn’t emitting any tears, but these two or three minutes I spent gazing over the walkway and sipping coffee brought about an intense moment for a romantic melancholy. I made it back to class in time for the less inspiring “death by PowerPoint” block of instruction from Captain Snuffy, but at least I returned caffeinated and rejuvenated, with red and orange maple leaves swirling in my impressionable mind.