The Best... Tree on Campus

Conner Gordon stands in front of a giant Port Orford cedar located on the UO campus between Deady and Allen Hall. Photograph by John Bauguess

Every day as I walk to Allen Hall and to the mountain of work that usually awaits me, I find solace along the way as I pass the best tree on campus.

Looking as if a child grew a Christmas tree using Jack's magic beans, the Port Orford cedar scrapes the bottoms of wayward clouds at its highest point and branches brush against grass at its lowest. Stationed in a lush sprawl of greenery between Deady, Fenton, Allen, and Friendly Halls, the tree lives on year after year as students come and go, professors are hired and retire, and buildings are erected and remodeled around it.

Thirty years ago, my mom, Kerri Havnen Gordon '83, passed this tree as well, breathing in fresh air and exhaling out anxiety—letting the tree's positive aura permeate her skin, lifting her spirits in preparation for Math 95. She hated the class—but loved her walk to Deady Hall. In the sheltered hollow where the tree's trunk erupts skyward, its branches greeted her warmly and gave my mom reason to smile.

Kerri made her first visit back to campus as a Duck mom in 2010. I happily accompanied her on her pilgrimage to stand in the shade of her old friend. Savoring the stories my mom told of her memories from college and wary of the empty nest she would be returning to with my brother and me now gone off to college, I wanted to give her a new memory to take back home.

My dad snapped a picture that day—a son towering over his mom with an arm draped around her, and the tree towering over us both. This would become my mother's favorite memory of her tree. Bliss, she describes it.

One year later, a rare snowfall blanketed Eugene. Classes were cancelled, but braving frostbite in canvas topsiders and old jeans, I trekked through six inches of powder to snap a photo of my mom's tree dusted in white—an unfamiliar sight for us Californians. I texted her the photo. I knew that she would love to see her old friend dressed in a new winter coat.

This tree, which has been loved for 30 years by a Duck through and through, now will forever hold a place in this duckling's heart, a place right next to his mother's.

—By Conner Gordon

Conner Gordon is a senior journalism major and currently serves as editor in cheif at Ethos magazine.