I didn’t have any really good ideas for a title, so I didn’t come up with a good one.
So, what has Grinnell been like? Well, it’s been busy. Busy but excellent. Even though I’m out in the center of Iowa, there’s still so much stuff to do. It’s such that I don’t even have time to do it all. I haven’t really been bored at all yet. Whereas, in Cincinnati, even though I was in a big city with theorietically tons of activities to do, I found myself bored out of my gourd. Right now I’m sitting on the loggia, doing my best to touch-type and look out over the big campus field at the same time. It’s kind of interesting typing without looking at what you’re typing at all.
So, here’s a sample of something I did. I may have mentioned CERA, the college-owned parcel of prairie about eleven miles down the road. They have 365 acres there, of all different types of prairie, plus a pond and some scrub oak forest. Last Friday, there was I guess what you’d call an activity out there. It was called “Prairie Night: Sights and Sounds”. So, basically a bunch of people from the college and the town got in a big ol’ bus and went down to CERA. I personally rode in a van with the director of the program, because there were a few van seats available, and I figured why not? When we got there, it was late evening. Everyone congregated in a big mowed spot and sat down. A few guys who were part of the trip came up front. The sun started to set. As it did, one guy read excerpts from a few different passages and poems about prairie nights. I believe Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson were represented. Once he was done, a different guy took his place and started telling us about insect sounds, and stuff like that. I paid more attention to the sunset. Earlier that day, we had been rained on with vehemence; there was a mist in the air, and the sun caught it and turned it into hanging art. Sunset in the prairie is different from sunset in the city. In the prairie, when the sun goes down there’s a clear, straight dividing line between the sky and the earth, and it glows. A corona of energy. As I watched, a few points of light started appearing in the darkening blue. I counted them as they came in, three four five, but it wasn’t too long before that became futile. The corona shrank until it was just a lingering fringe of day trying not to be forgotten. And so, once people were done presenting, the last person told us that we should walk on down the mowed trail, and take in the night.
I did. I had visited the prairie before, during the day, so I knew what it looked like, but now by night it was much changed. It was no longer possible to pick out compass plants or Indian bluestem; instead, the prairie was an indistinct sea, raised four feet above the ground by the mower blades. The grass was wet on my bare feet. I started out ahead of everyone, so I had a sphere to myself. A symphony, an unpretentious symphony, set my background. I don’t know the names of the players, but I know music. There was a bass line, a steady drone; melodies that shifted as I walked by; and solos that broke out erratically, disregarding others, only concerned with getting their notes in the air. I found my way to the pond and ended up standing on a dock. I hadn’t visited the pond before, so I only know it by night. I stood and surveyed. The night was a dark one, but peopled by clusters of light, ones I seldom see.
I realized I ought to get back, or I’d be left behind and not get to hear about any of the other stuff that was happening, so I turned around and walked to the lab building’s basement, where everyone was. There was apple juice, and some other stuff. After that, we got to see some moths that they attracted to trees nearby with a mixture of sugar and beer and wine and honey, I think. And the professor of astronomy had a telescope, so he let people take a look at Jupiter, the brightest thing in the sky tonight; its four brightest moons were easily visible. He also told us the names of some of the constellations up there. Now I know a little more about that. Finally, we drove back to Grinnell.
Not everything was that fun, and most of it I would be hard pressed to write that profoundly about. Everyone’s been having party fun. Jeremy and Jay like partying. Jay is much more into it than Jeremy, though, and Jeremy seems to just get dragged around by him. He says he’s done with Grinnell’s parties; the only thing they have going for them is free beer, handed out indiscriminately. I’ve heard that it’s really bad beer, and the only reason to drink it is to get drunk. I’ve been pretty busy overall with my classes. I certainly set myself up a hell of a course load. Two reading- and writing-intensive classes – the tutorial, and American Literature Traditions II (AmTradsII, because no one’s really going to say all that). So I’ve kept occupied, which keeps me from being unoccupied. I’ve also been working in the dining hall, sorting silverware out on Fridays and Saturdays at dinner. The dining hall pays $8.25 an hour. I’m going to sub for lots of people who ask for subs, because that’s darn good money. And résumé padding, too. I already subbed today at lunch for some guy I don’t know. I did the first dish line. The food’s real good here; I don’t care what anyone else says. I will speak more of food in a forthcoming entry. They do their best to change it up a lot. Their desserts are great. They had ginger snaps a few days ago! Ginger snaps are the very best cookies in the world. No, they are. I don’t care what you think are the best; it’s ginger snaps. Deal with it.