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Four Years at the Mount

Favorite Fall Activities

Falling for autumn

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(10/2016) It is the time and the season that I love above all others, fall! Otherwise known as sweater weather and the time of the year where you can scarcely turn around without seeing or smelling some kind of pumpkin spice whatchamacallit. The breeze carries with it a crisp newness, the oppressing humidity from summertime is swept aside, and the world can breathe again. Autumn on campus has always been my favorite, especially watching the leaves on the trees turn the whole mountain crimson and gold. Granted, my morning commute becomes darker and colder this time of year, and I struggle to leave the warm cocoon of my bed in the morning, but that does not dampen my love of the season.

During the month of October, I have two of my favorite events. The first is my birthday, during which the appearance of the almost completely processed Carvel ice-cream cake is mandatory. The second is, of course, Halloween. Unfortunately, I am too old to traipse around, begging for candy and, between school and work, I haven’t the time to sit in a sincere pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Luckily, one is never too old to dress up in costume (I am thinking of going as a flapper this year). In the spirit of the season, I also take extra special time to curl up with some apple cider to a nice B-list horror flick or two (B-list because they are predictable and not as scary).

Another crucial element of this month is my annual reading of A Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. For some reason, my brain has associated this novel with this season, so now I cannot let the month pass by without re-visiting the Faustian tale. In the morning, weather permitting, I find myself sitting under the trees in Peace Plaza, reading as everyone’s favorite, iconic, stubby-tailed squirrel readies himself for winter.

This year however, there will be a slight change to my usual October schedule, because during the blessed week of fall break, I am going with my family to New Orleans! We will be staying in the French Quarter, which is a beautiful place in a beautiful city. I have only been here once before for about three days, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to have time to explore a little more. The food, of course, will be another upside to my trip to the Big Easy. What I remember of my last visit was impromptu parades, sidewalk jazz musicians, and walking nervously in and out of a Voodoo shop. I have been dreaming of Gumbo, beignets, and the Central Grocery ever since I found out we were going. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and experiencing what the French Quarter has to offer.

I have talked about my most favorite things I do throughout this season, but now it is time I turn towards the most important. During the mornings when I am on campus, when it is not dreadfully busy, I try to make my way up to the Grotto (each time horribly underestimating the stairs). The Grotto is one of the main reasons why I choose Mount St. Mary's University. As I have mentioned in previous articles, my Catholic faith has always been, and will always be, very important to me. It has been a part of my life forever and without it, I would not be me. What I value most highly about the Grotto is that it is a place that provides an escape from the loud and chaotic world. The Grotto is a place of sanctuary, a small silent space in the middle of a troubling world. I think that in today's world we all need a place like that, for in the words of the immortal William Wordsworth, "the world is too much with us." Everywhere you turn, there is some new and vibrant problem that needs to be solved, but the Grotto is proof that there are still pockets of peace left on earth.

It is a shame I do not go up there more often, but life is like a spoiled toddler and has a habit of drawing my attention away from quiet solitude. It has always been my humble opinion that autumn is the last flash of Nature’s brilliance as it retreats from the descending chill. So let us pause in carving pumpkins and raise our glasses of apple cider to fall!

Read other articles by Sarah Muir