As snow turns to rain, the weather begins to warm, and birds sing their song, the city of Oberlin begins to buzz with a new energy. As the college emerges from its winter hibernation, more students can be found lounging on grassy patches around campus, taking a blissful stroll outside, and drinking smoothies from Stevie.
That is until we get a freak weather event and it starts hailing a wintry mix with strong gusty winds. The spring weather is beautifully…dynamic. The weeks vary between 70-degree sunny days, and days like today, a 35-degree slushy day (which also corresponded with the one day that I had an outdoor lab). But this diversity of weather is the spice of life. It reminds you to be grateful for the little things. Like how, no matter the weather, even when frozen slosh coats the ground, you can find someone wearing flip-flops outdoors.
Ah, springtime. A time for renewal, growth, rebirth even. I am currently taking a lovely little class called Archives and Affects taught by KJ Cerankowski. It is cross-listed under Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and Comparative American Studies. Whenever I try to explain the content of the class, people are just confused and so am I (and that is kinda the point). It is the type of class where you kinda just have to be there to understand it, to exist at the moment in relation to the professor, the readings, and your peers to fully grasp the content. But, in short, it is about feelings and archives. About how we relate to others and the world and how they relate to us, how we store information and create historical memory, and how we exist in the world as living feeling beings that eventually will die.
Why do I bring up my class about feelings? Well, now that I know about affect theory and alternative archival practices, I feel it in my life. More so the theory of affect, which is the theory of how we use our subjectivity and emotions to understand our world and exist together with it. With springtime comes change, a changing of the seasons manifested in an altered physical environment, and a change within ourselves and the broader community. This spring, and in every moment of my existence, I am becoming and unbecoming. Morphing into what I will be and shedding the skin of who I was. During this transitional period, it feels good to be at Oberlin.
There are so many ways to enjoy the beauty of Northeast Ohio in spring, and here are just a few of my favorites:
Go on a bike ride with a friend! If you don’t have a bike, borrow one from another friend! (Or borrow and return an unlocked bike from one of the various bike racks around campus!) There is a handsome bike path that extends through Oberlin and to Elyria on one side and Amherst on the other (or maybe even farther!). On a warm sunny day, it is wonderful to meander along the bike path. Here, you can meet friendly bikers, frogs that sound like a loud alarm, picturesque red barns and silver silos, and endless expanses of farmland. I don’t even like biking that much and I love the bike path. It reminds me to breathe, take things slow, and look at things from a new angle. Life at Oberlin can feel so small sometimes but making a journey along the magnificent asphalt path helps broaden my horizons (literally and figuratively) and remember that there is such a large world out there just waiting to be experienced. Taking time out in rural nature allows me to become free and clear.
Enjoy the birds and flowers. I always forget about birds during the winter. It’s not like I don’t think they exist anymore, but I just don’t see them or notice them as much. But when temperatures increase and the days get longer, out they pop, trilling their lovely little songs. The birds are so cheery and bright that you can’t help but feel happier when you hear them singing outside. Birds are a very real reminder that spring is here and warmer weather is going to stay. Another reminder of this is the flowers. Right now, magnolias are blooming and they are breathtaking. Their petals are soft and taste gingery and their branches feel heavy with fragrance and beauty. Seeing the trees around campus brings me a lot of joy. Another tree that is just stunning is in the courtyard of the King Building. Its petals are pink and fluffy and delicate. After class, I always peer out the window, and my eyes are met with the splendor of that big droopy shining tree. The birds and flowers make me become peaceful and hopeful about the dawn.
Sit on Wilder porch. Sure, you can sit on the grass in Wilder Bowl and bask in the sun, but if you want to feel true power, you sit on Wilder porch and watch the masses pass below you. It feels so powerful to sit on the wooden chairs surrounding a round table on the stone porch that is 10 feet above the ground below it. Wilder porch is my therapy (and it’s free). Here I sit with friends and bask in rays of sun and friendship. We talk about current happenings, count how many people pass by wearing a white t-shirt, and laugh out loud. We watch people walk by, swarms of All Roads Lead to Oberlin tours, and clouds of people exiting class. Sometimes people stop by and sit with us for five minutes, other times they stay for hours. It is nice to just sit together and not have any sort of agenda or plan. Wilder porch lets me become an unproductive being, my truest self. I sit and enjoy the pleasure of the experience and the comfort of camaraderie without worrying about doing any sort of work. This is the beauty of the human experience.