The Tragic Optimist

the arb

The “arb” is a 880 acre arboretum at the college where I work (and where I went to school 11 -eeks- years ago). It has a lot of hiking and walking trails, and lots of restored prairie, wetland, forest, and savanna habitats. As it’s been nicer outside, I’ve been going for more walks over my lunch break, and today was no exception. I headed out with three co-workers, incidentally all of whom are fellow carpoolers.

It was a perfect day and a gorgeous walk. We saw a school of carp as we walked along the river. First you only noticed their mouths as they came to the surface, but as you looked in the murky water, you realized that those slowly moving shadows were actually dozens of fish teeming and wriggling just below. It was actually quite beautiful its own fishy way. And then as we continued along the river, we saw a bald eagle come down the river and then soar across the prairie. And as we watched, it was joined by a second eagle. The pair circled the land and then headed up the river. They were amazing to watch. We all kept tripping over the path after that as we were all craning our necks, looking up to try to catch another glimpse of the pair.

It’s a strange thing sometimes to work where you went to school. Parts of campus are so heavy with memories that it can be distracting. The arb is one of those places. I have so many memories of exploring it with many different friends. It was, and still is, vast and beautiful, full of possibilities, and even a little scary.  College was actually a lot like that now that I think about it.



  1. I love this post. It really captures all I felt every time I took a walk anywhere on campus. Coming from a big city, living at Carleton was a crazy experience filled with new sights and long walks, especially the year I lived on East Side. So many countless times since I have regretted I didn’t spend more time doing the things I loved about living at Carleton. You are a lucky woman to work in a job you love in such a wonderful place with so many great memories and places!

  2. I get a lot of physical and emotional responses walking on Davidson’s campus. I feel the weight of those memories that I am carrying around and sometimes it’s unbearable. My heart starts beating too fast and I feel so nervous.

    That’s neat that you all saw bald eagles! I enjoyed reading your description of the walk.

  3. Sounds gorgeous!! You should take pics!

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