Ever since I was little, I remember having trees in my life. The house I grew up in was surrounded by trees; we had a big tree with red leaves in our front yard and in the backyard, a large pine tree that’s pine cones were often used with peanut butter to make bird treats, two large oak trees, one of which was the first and only tree I’ve ever climbed, and the little tree in the middle of the backyard that grew up with me.
The first tree I climbed and the red tree in the front.
In fact, most of the memories of my childhood are in that backyard. Every day after school (which was right behind my backyard), I would climb over the fence into the yard, run inside, drop off my things, grab a snack, and proceed back into the yard to swing, climb, and run. As a kid, I spent a lot of time outside. I played soccer, went for walks with my dad and our dog around town, went sledding in the winter, played at the beach during the summer… Nature surrounded my childhood.
One of my favorite places in the world is called Sari’s Sanctuary, a little outdoor “classroom” area located on the river next to my elementary school. Whenever I am mad or stressed or just need some peace and quiet, I go to Sari’s Sanctuary, sit, and listen to the world around me. Another one of my favorite spots is the sea wall. Once I knew how to drive, my favorite place to drive to was the sea wall. I would sit on the wall and watch the ocean crash against the rocks below me. One of the first things I do when I go home for breaks is visit the sea wall.
The sea wall.
At Sari’s Sanctuary.
I was (and am) an animal lover and loved playing with my dog outside. I also had a pony at my birthday party from ages five to about ten. For a long time, I thought I wanted to be a veteranarian when I grew up, but I soon decided against that because I’d have to put animals down if they were too old or sick, and I couldn’t even bear to think about it. When I was a freshman in high school, I became a vegetarian after watching Food, Inc. As a freshman in college, I joined Dog House which is a club that raises and trains service dogs. I couldn’t imagine my Dickinson experience without Dog House and without SSD Rico, one of the dogs we are currently training. He has been my sanctuary away from my sanctuaries at home.
Me and Daisy, our first dog; Grover, our current dog, and Rico.
When I was in middle school and high school, I spent most of my time inside. I stopped going sledding and to the beach with my family, and usually retreated to my room. I lost a lot of my connection with nature, but I’ve started gaining it back and appreciating it more, especially through Dickinson’s focus on sustainability. I’ve spent time on the farm volunteering, and I took a hiking class for a gym credit. I also spend a lot of time walking around campus outside, meeting friends, and hanging out on the quads or Morgan field, enjoying the sun while it lasts. I’ve even come to appreciate walks in the rain; freshman year, my friend and I walked around campus, no shoes on, in a huge rain storm, splashing in puddles and reminiscing about being kids. Nature has become more a part of me again, and I never want to lose it.