May 11, 2016
Most of the students are gone, the caps and gowns put away, the classrooms locked up and the residence halls are empty. Except for some summer courses, the academic year is over. My walk to my office is quiet and empty. After all the hectic activity of the school year, everything has slowed down. Everything, that is, except me. I found myself hurrying toward my building from the parking ramp thinking of all the things I had to do and then, WHAM – the most heavenly scent stopped me. A tree in full bloom wove its scent around me, whispering for me to stop and smell the flowers.
So even though I was running late (again), I did. I stopped and breathed in deeply, forcing my mind to stop racing and live in the moment. I pulled a flower closer to my face to take in more of the intoxicating scent. I thought about how fleeting the seasons can be if we don’t occasionally stop to truly enjoy them. Life doesn’t stop for you, so you have to stop for it. And wow – does this campus have reasons to stop and smell the flowers. It’s like some crazy color explosion hit just about everywhere you look. But you have to look. You have to slow down and look before it passes you by.
If you’re on campus, get out and take a walk. If you haven’t been here lately, come back. This beautiful place is like a huge park with gardens everywhere you look. Wander through the Horticulture Gardens, one of the most beautiful “laboratories” you’ll ever visit. Stroll around the W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the oldest continuously operated university garden of its kind in the United States. Meander just about anywhere on campus and you’ll find beautiful flowers and trees – pretty to look at but also part of the university’s commitment to the environment and the study of it. If you can’t get to campus, look around you, wherever you are. In the words of Henri Matisse, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
Zachary Huang often stops to smell the flowers. Well, actually he stops to photograph the flowers – as long as he can find a bee on it. He’s an associate professor of entomology, honeybee expert and talented photographer. While he spends much of his time trying to solve the dying honeybee problem, he slows down enough to capture the beauty of bees and flowers. Check out the FACULTY VOICE: Bee the best, to see some of his stunning photography and learn more about his work.
Liz Brajevich is dedicated to using her skills and education to improving the environment. She graduated last week with a degree in environmental economics and policy and was named the 2016 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Student Leadership Award winner. Her efforts in implementing an effective system to compost cafeteria food waste using worms also earned her the honor of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 college women. Watch her video and read more about this brilliant young woman in the STUDENT VIEW: Outstanding student leader.
Stopping to smell the flowers is important. Having flowers and a clean environment in the first place is even more important. Luckily, you’ll find Spartans like Huang and Brajevich all over the world solving our biggest environmental challenges. Spartans are fiercely dedicated to a cleaner, more environmentally sound tomorrow and have the fortitude to make it happen.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz