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Some thoughts on Clarion and MSU

You can walk for an hour without seeing a single car, hearing a single voice, encountering a single soul. In the summer months, this campus is like the Midwest version of "28 Days Later". It's unnerving and exhilarating.

Yes, it's hot and humid. But I think that's been over-emphasized. Evenings are quite beautiful, and there's always some small breeze that helps cool things down. Owen Grad Center has numerous balconies, and there's a lovely patio outside the lounge area where you can take your laptop and write for hours as the sun slowly sets, and the fireflies rise and fall.

Birds, everywhere. I don't recognize the smaller ones, but they call out from every tree on campus. On the ground, large gaggles of geese (Canadian?) wander the lawns by the river, while smaller song birds follow in their wake. Ducks are everywhere - the adults have glossy green heads and small clumps of deep indigo feathers in their wings. The baaaaby ducks are caramel colored and fluffy. They look like dollops of fluffernutter.

Day and night you can hear the trains running. If you turn off your air conditioner at night, the throb of the engines washes over the flat campus and through the windows. Hearing the horns in the dead of night reminds me of the trains running around the tip of Point Defiance in Tacoma, decades ago when I was young.

There is nothing more ominous than walking along the flat grounds, hearing the long, drawn-out wail of the tornado sirens. They remind me of the sirens in WWII movies, just before the bombs would always descend onto London like falling stars. There are notices in our dorm rooms, reminding us to read the bulletin boards and familiarize ourselves with the rules of evacuation. I feel like an ant here, crawling across a flat, unfamiliar landscape, waiting for the sky to drop at any second.

This is the perfect place to learn how to write.

Marine Autumn

I owe you marine autumn
With dankness at its roots
and fog like a grape
and the graceful sun of the country;
and the silent space
in which sorrows lose themselves
and only the bright crown
of joy comes to the surface.

--Pablo Neruda.


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