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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Nature that nurtures

Kyle Ott
MSM Class of 2015

(4/2015) In honor of Earth Day and a renewed focus on the environment, we here at the Emmitsburg News-Journal have decided to place a renewed and creative focus on the vibrant world around us. In that regard, I have decided to take some time and journal about my personal experience with and appreciation of nature. It is my fondest hope that through these stories, you may come to an appreciation for the world around us in the same way.

Breeze Stars

Maybe I am a little weird, but there is something that makes me ludicrously happy about heavy winds. When my brother and I were little, we would run out in clothing that was six sizes too big for us and traipse through our muddy backyard giggling like fiends. Or perhaps it was the time that we decided to take our Razor scooters on a pleasure cruise across our asphalt driveway. Overhead, Hurricane Isabella dumped rain and howled above us, but our joy made us oblivious to the tempest above.

Even now in college, my enthusiasm for the wind has gone almost completely undaunted. After a few days of being sick and forced to remain in the 20ft by 20ft confines of my single, I finally felt well enough to wrap myself in fleece and flannel and make a trip to the Mount Caf with my friends. Despite the short distance between Terrace and the land of warm food and faux leather booths, I came prepared for the worst that sickness and cold could throw at me. A bundle of tissues was stuffed into my left coat pocket, a massive wool hat with ear flaps was strapped securely around my noggin, and I had chosen my most stalwart companions for the journey. The fellowship of the Caf was prepared. Had I known what we would have encountered, I would have avoided all the preparations. As we opened the door to the outside world, a cool crisp breeze touched our faces, filling our nostrils with the clean scent of rime. The wind had brushed aside the clouds ahead and revealed a kaleidoscopic field of stars. If you?ve never enjoyed a sliver sky at night I highly suggest that you walk out in the middle of the night, or immediately after a windstorm, and just marvel at what you see. Finally, after days of being trapped inside with nothing but an electric fan, the feel of the wind on what little bits of exposed skin woke me up more than any cup of coffee ever could.

My love affair with the wind continues even now, in the dead of the cold when it cuts through layer after layer of insulating clothing. Perhaps it is the simple reminder of times shared with good friends on the way to get food, or of times spent with my brother. Or maybe, it is the signal of stars and amazing calm.

One Long Thin Line

Once, when I was in high school, someone told me that friends are the family that we choose for ourselves. At the time it was something that I paid as much attention to as my weekly horoscope. However, as time stretched on, the idea of choosing a family for myself has grown in my thoughts as surely as the most stubborn of moss.

The last time that I was truly aware of my decisions and how they impacted the life I made was due almost entirely to nature. My friends and I were returning from a late dinner after an evening spent inside playing board games. As we finished our meals, snow began to fall, coating the trees and the roads of our school like frosting on a gingerbread house. Outside, the lampposts emitted a welcoming golden shimmer through the endless stream of crystal flakes. Around the table we joked about how our friend, John, a good-natured bear of a guy, had face planted in a snowbank the year before. We all laughed as we imagined John making a sound that was something in between the forlorn cry of a walrus and the roar of a lion as his body made a solid ?thunk? sound against the powder. I jokingly remarked that this year I would do it with him. At first he was hesitant, but as we left Patriot Hall and returned to our rooms, the ?thunk? of my body colliding with the nearest pile of snow seemed to reassure him. Within five minutes, all of us were plunging into the snow in some way shape or form, or at the very least, writing messages in the ice.

Finally, as we neared the front entrance of Terrace, I saw it. The most perfect patch of untouched pure white that I had ever seen. ?Guys!? I called out. ?We?ve got to do something with this, some kind of giant snow angel or something.? The group came over and inspected the earth, as hesitant to take one family size drop into the snow as John had been to repeat his graceful plunge. Finally, however, we settled on linking hands and, on the count of three, plunging into the snow and leaving one giant imprint of figures, linked to one another hand in hand.

The rest of that week, no matter how far it was out of my way, I made a point to pass by to see if the massive snow indent we had made still remained. In addition to seeing if the small mark that we had made on the world around us was still there, there was a part of me that wanted and needed to be reminded of one night where the snowfall gave my friends and I a chance to be as one, if only for a short time.

Read other articles by Kyle Ott