I was rummaging through some stuff from my college days at CSC, Colorado State College and came upon my spiral from freshman communications class – COM 101. You remember the one, they made you write different types of essays to develop your communication skills? After glancing over a few less than stellar assignments I realized I really could’ve used spell and grammar check and probably turned a few of the B’s into A’s… to quote the instructor “watch for misplaced modifiers, coordinate adjectives (?), sentence fragments and common errors – they distract from the overall coherence.” What the hell is a coordinate adjective? I still don't know!
Anyway, for those of you that have read my more recent attempts at written communication you might recognize the style that was revealed back in 1968. I believe this was an assignment to write a “Description”. Hmmm kinda open ended… This was titled “Description (?)”, and if you spent any time on the campus in Greeley you probably know exactly where it takes place.
The trees stretch toward the grey, menacing sky; their bare branches seem to grab at the hazy afternoon ceiling. The pillars of living wood form like sentinels along the broken cement walk. From the corner you pass through a corridor of elm and oak while the shaggy rug of wintered grass lines the tipsy squares of cement. Now and then the clatter of scattered gravel opens the cold silence and seems to echo from behind each tree. A few paces down the walk and you might catch a glimpse of a squirrel searching the joints of each branch for an afternoon snack. But he sees you move and shoots up to the highest branch of the tree, disappearing much like the afternoon breeze.
It’s time you stopped and took in all that the wooded lawn has to offer. A few brisk steps through the leaf scattered mat of grasses and you’ll find a spot to sit and lean back against one of those magnificent wooden columns. As you put your weight down a small, cold chill creeps up your back as if you’ve been caught up in the webbing of a spiders home. At first the knotty bark needles its way through your coat and into your back. But with a few small adjustments the knots are comfortably placed and a new warmth overwhelms the coolness of the ground beneath you. Taking time to look about, that grayish tail with feet suddenly bounds from a tree just opposite yours. Try as you will to stay quiet and motionless he soon spots your position and is off again, up among the spindly, blackened branches of an immense elm. Losing him among the joints and jogs of the wooden net your eyes catch the sun as it sneaks through the billowy sky. The grayish afternoon crawls away while the tide of powdery blue and warming sky redecorates the day. A chatter from the squirrel announces his joy as a warm breeze pushes the leaves up from their resting places to crash and tumble across the lawn.
But still there is a cold loneliness surrounding you. It’s not the lack of beauty or the cold that’s finally disappearing; it puzzles you to think what could be wrong now, with the sun high amongst the vacant robins’ nests. Finally it happens; you’re joined by a couple strolling down a worn pathway. They seem to fill the whole colonnade of trees and ruddy grass rugs with something clean, fresh and bright. Though they passed by in a moment, lost in their own world, their brightness was shared by all. Even the wiry squirrel came down from his mountainous perch, fearlessly beckoning to you. But with his chattering the cold haze resumes, covering the sun as the evening grows near. So you pick yourself up and briskly stroll back along the crumbling cement walkway, you will remember this place, this day, it was good to you.