Saturday, December 05, 2009

In My Little Town

They call my college a "cow college".

In fact, it was the premiere Land-Grant Institution that served as a model for those to come. And yes, being a part of a Land-Grant Institution meant a focus on teaching agriculture. Cow college? Maybe. But proudly so.

That other school down the road (you know, the one whose school colors are blue and corn) looks down on my college.  There is, of course, good-natured yet intense interstate rivalry between the two schools, but my college is no hick college.  We've had several Pulitzer Prize winners, and a record number of Rhodes Scholars.  The other school is no slouch either, but despite the jokes about our graduates being the ones delivering pizza to their graduates, we are a strong academic community.

For those that care (which can at times be a strain), we are strong in the field of athletics.  We win lots of games.  We also lose lots of games.  Sometimes, lots and lots of games (on either end of the spectrum), as compared to other places.  But we have our share of championship banners, trophies and other dustable knick-knacks.  Could we be better?  Of course.  Couldn't everybody?

Our campus is beautiful.  There is no other word to describe it, perhaps with the exception of the word large.  There are trees and grass and flowers everywhere.  There is a river that winds through campus, which means we have more than our fair share of ducks scamming bread, squirrels demanding popcorn, and Canadian Geese pooping all over everything.  Our campus is its own little world just across the street from the town in which it lives.

And our town. I might have taken our quaint little town for granted until today.  Directly across the street from the campus is a bustling, thriving community.  There are an incredible number of bookstores in the area, not to mention locally owned restaurants, coffee houses and stores that feature the talents of local artisans.   To be fair I will admit yes, there are a seemingly obscene number of bars.  However, when you live here, you simply learn to work with it or circumvent it altogether whenever necessary.

Chocolate cheese is a campus specialty, and everyone tracks the seasons according to the teeny tiny soft-serve ice cream shop.  Open all but four winterish months a year, we flock there as a respite from homework or housework, to celebrate recitals or to cool down on a hot summer day.  Yes, we have even driven to get ice cream while wearing winter coats and mittens.  It's currently the off-season (there are three long, dark, lonely months to go) but we are counting the days until it reopens.  And yes, most definitely yes, we ARE COUNTING.

All these things are at my disposal every day, but I can't say that I've ever really thought how lucky I was to have any of them.  But it all came into focus today as I spent many hours trying to get to know a different college town, and wanting to support their local businesses, restaurants and artisans.  Instead, I walked around for quite awhile and then drove around getting both frustrated and bored.  There wasn't much to see...  And there was even less to do... I'm certain there is a personality somewhere in that town, but what it is I don't yet know.  Maybe someday I'll figure it out.

Meanwhile, thank you cow college.  Thank you cow town.  Some may think you're nothing special, but you and I, we know better.  Thank you for being right across the street, arms flung wide, just waiting to embrace your visitors.  When I go back to work on Monday, I'm going to grumble a little less at the traffic and the pedestrians.  You're the heart, but the students and the townies are its lifeline.   I'm glad to be a part of it.

You put the Green in GreenTuna.
Go State.

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