Each fall it's not uncommon to find myself hurrying among swarms of students toting book-filled backpacks and scurrying to early-morning classes at the University of Oregon. Bustling through the season's cool, crisp air, it's easy to let my surroundings go unnoticed; but despite autumn's chill, I always look forward to one outdoor event: the yearly descent of colorful fall foliage in the University High School Courtyard.
At the center of the Lorry I. Lokey Education Building in the university's education complex, the courtyard is surrounded by the façades of white, early twentieth-century buildings, one of which operated as a high school until 1953. A brick-laid pathway lines the courtyard, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a southern promenade.
For me, the courtyard's east-facing bench is a perfect vantage point to watch the morning sunrise over the trees of the nearby Pioneer Cemetery. I feel the sun's warmth on my face as the slanting rays also dance across the multicolored leaves of the courtyard's birch trees, Japanese maples, and tall oaks.
When I turn my head to the south and look toward the new HEDCO College of Education building, I see an amazing tunnel of color shrouding a 50-foot-long pathway. The dense canopy of oaks and Gingko biloba trees, whose leaves once fluttered in shades of deep green and shielded me from the hot summer sun, now glow red, orange, and yellow.
A breeze strikes up and the courtyard becomes a kaleidoscope of fall hues, with leaves swirling midair before drifting to the ground, becoming a crunchy carpet. The crackling sound of leaves breaking beneath my feet draws the autumn season close in my conscious, raising memories of childhood days spent collecting pinecones and tree boughs to create table centerpieces for the nearing holiday season.
The urgency of morning exams and expired parking meters can often create chaos in this gateway to the heart of campus. But once a year I always make time to pause in the University High School Courtyard and drink in this intoxicating show of seasonal delight.
—By Lacey Jarrell
Lacey Jarrell (pictured above) is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in biology who serves as editor in chief at Ethos, a student-run magazine.