For those of us here at Oberlin and in other chilly parts of the world, one thing is clear: winter has certainly arrived. While me and my friends mourn the beautiful Oberlin autumn, the frost has slowly started creeping in. It’s even snowed lightly a couple times starting in November, though none of it has yet to stick. Right now, on campus you’ll see a flurry of beanies and puffy coats, zipped all the way up to the chin. For once I’m glad for having to wear a mask because aside from protecting against COVID, colds, and the flu, it also keeps your face very warm! So far, winter hasn’t completely set in, all of the trees are not fully barren and we still dress optimistically waiting for the sun to come out. Last weekend was one of those rare sunny days, and even though it was certainly chilly, I’m a fan of brisk sunny days. If you bike along the center of campus, Tappan Square, passing Finney Chapel, you’ll run into the North Coast Inland Trail, a wide secluded road that cuts through Oberlin and goes through nearby Elyria, all the way to Lake Erie.
Being the unnecessarily ambitious person that I am, a third of the way to Elyria I decided I’d bike there, get lunch, and come back. For reference, Elyria is about 9 miles away from Oberlin, making it about an hour ride, depending on how quickly you’re biking. The way there is gorgeous, lined by trees that touch the sky and long stretches of fields. Besides the times when the path bisects the roads, which are mostly empty anyway, it feels as if you’re a fairytale character venturing into the great unknown. Another great thing about the trail is that it’s incredibly flat and easy to bike on, though there’s a few rough hills when the path merges into the road that leads to Elyria. By the time I finally got there, breaking through the trees to see the city skyline, I was tired but feeling proud.
While my visit to Elyria was mostly uneventful, it was a fantastic experience to be able to take a few hours to myself on a nice day to be alone in a new, unfamiliar place. Though the gorgeous sunset on the way back brought the cold back with it, I’ll never forget hearing the honking of geese overhead as I made my way back home. On the way back I also stopped, gazing through the trees to see a few deer, grazing under a tangerine glow. Though my legs began to get tired and feet felt numb, I felt energized as I passed each trail sign letting me know I’d gotten another mile further to home. The sense of personal accomplishment I felt after finally getting back was one I hadn’t felt in awhile, after being so busy with the whirlwind that is college life. Though waking up in the dark morning continues to be a struggle, I’m appreciative of the sweet moments of beauty around me that I’m lucky enough to see.