Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. The changing colors of the leaves, that crisp, sweet-smelling breeze, the evenings curled up with plenty of blankets and a hot drink... ahhhhh.
In the spirit of this delicious season, my son and I decided to make a side trip yesterday while driving back home from my mother's house (where he was spoiled for two days and I got some time to work and rest.) Our adventure took us to my alma mater, Bucknell University.
Let me first say that when I went to college (dinosaurs roamed the earth at the time, by the way), the campus was a little smaller. As always seems to happen, the university has grown by a few buildings in the past decade-and-a-half (as have my hips since graduation.) But it's still much as I remembered.
However, the one difference was that I no longer felt "out of place" as I did when I attended classes there.
At the time, I was "finding myself" in a typical late-teen way. I just couldn't quite get a toe-hold in the social life at Bucknell, though, so I ended up only living there for two semesters and then commuting from my family's home for my last three years, a decision I now somewhat regret but which seemed appropriate at the time.
In any case, although Bucknell and I didn't bond emotionally, I received an excellent liberal arts education there. A few teachers really "stood out", one of whom I had the privilege to see yesterday during our impromptu "college tour '07".
Dr. Jean Peterson.
Just writing her name makes me grin.
Jean was one of the most outstanding instructors I have had (or ever will have, I imagine.) Her love for teaching English literature (especially Shakespeare) was evident, and the energy she brought to the classroom was palpable. I can actually remember thinking, "If I ever have the opportunity to instruct, I want to be this dynamic!" And now that I teach acting and modeling, I try to "channel" her spirit on those days when I feel less-than-peppy.
When I all-too-briefly spoke with Jean yesterday, it seemed as if no time had passed, though it absolutely has. (Could it really be thirteen years?) She's still very young in appearance, always smiling and extremely sincere. It was the highlight of our Bucknell trip to have the chance to tell her how much she meant (and means) to me. Ironically, it was her birthday, so we were able to offer cheery wishes to her.
Driving home amidst the falling foliage, my soul was filled with joy. My son and I talked non-stop (despite the laryngitis that's been coming and going for me) and it was evident we both were moved in some way by our experience.
You never know what magical moments will occur before those first snow flurries begin...