On my bi-weekly trip from Hamilton to Havemeyer, I walk past the “Scholar’s Lion” statue. Most days, I barely notice it; it just sits there, petrified in stone and silence. Until one day, while waiting on the bench by that statue, I see a young child wander over, no larger than four feet tall, looking scared. The kid runs around the sculpture, frightened, slowly approaching it before hastily jumping back. At first, I’m a bit concerned. Where is this child’s guardian? Why is she scared? Should I be scared too? A few moments later, a caregiver appears and hands the child a water bottle, comforting and asking her what happened. I watch as the toddler—shoulders raised, head lowered, with one hand clenched around her keeper's wrist—turns around to point at the lion, and it becomes clear.
Paused mid-roar, the statue is frightening in the eyes of the child, at least until her guardian lifts her up to face the beast. Water bottle in her right hand, the child brushes the mane of the statue with her left. The fear melts away instantaneously, and a smile creeps in from the corners of her mouth. She attempts to share her water with the sculpture and, giggling, calls it a “pet.” Her guardian giggles too.
Even wedged between the fears of a chemistry midterm and that unfinished essay that kept me in Butler last night, it’s hard to miss a child's creative, curious, awestruck interaction with the same campus I pass through every day yet barely give a passing thought.
A different afternoon, glancing down from the Lerner ramps, I watch as five kids stumble onto Furnald lawn—one starts to run, zigzagging left and right like a gazelle, and soon the others catch on, chasing each other. It is a race... or a butterfly fluttering away... or a game of tag... or... who can tell? One falls down, brushes off the dirt, and keeps going. Another plays leapfrog alone, jumping over an imaginary friend. The empty lawns quickly become a playground, on which every bug, twig, and leaf uncovered is a life-changing new discovery, and there is no limit to their energy.
I am gifted with this playground too, but I have forgotten how to enjoy it. After a while, the campus becomes a maze that I try to finish as quickly as possible. I walk the same routes almost mindlessly. The unique sights, sculptures, and buildings fade into the background—and in a way, I feel myself fade into the background along with it. Only one semester into my college career, the buzz of being new to the campus seems long lost.
Every so often, something reminds me of the campus that I overlook too often. The leaves falling and filling College Walk, first snow coating the lawns, the glittering tree lighting, or a kid adopting a statue as a pet. For the young girl, it’s not the Scholar’s Lion—it’s her lion. Walking past it now, I giggle. I’m glad the pet lion got a new owner and I wonder if she ever comes back to visit.
Have fun leafing through our tenth issue!