Hail, Colby, Hail
I'm in Maine. I've come east to participate in my 30th college reunion. My alma mater, Colby, is a small liberal arts college in central Maine. The winters were long and cold, and I was a long way from finding myself and my personal peace. And yet, I have overwhelmingly fond memories of the place.
This was Leon's first visit to Colby. After giving him the obligatory campus tour, I showed him some of the other places that mean a lot to me. I was a biology major (yes, I know, you're all totally SHOCKED), but more importantly I was already very much a biology geek. I spend a lot of time in the woods and fields around campus. Colby sits near the summit of Mayflower Hill. In addition to mayflowers (long past blooming), there are a whole bunch of spring wildflowers in the woods.
Bunchberry - Cornus canadensis
Bunchberries are abundant and were in full bloom. They are not typical wildflowers. They are dogwoods, and despite their diminutive size are shrubs rather than herbacious plant. The stems really are woody. The flowers will be followed by clusters of berries that turn bright red in the fall.
We were fortunate to find about a dozen of the obscenely scrotal blooms of pink ladyslippers. This has been a ladyslipper spring for me. I have seen and photographed three species of Cypripedium in as many weeks.
Starflower - Trientalis borealis
Starflower is a plant that I remember from where I grew up in Massachusetts. They also thrive in this part of Maine. I really miss them- they don't grow in the Chicago area.
At the summet of Mayflower Hill is a barren area with exposed bedrock and lots of lichen. I was really eager to get back to this spot. I was sure that I'd find tiger beetles- maybe even Cicindela longilabrus. That spot just screams tiger beetle to me, but I did not see a single one there.
Friday night, we met up with classmate Kathy and her husband Greg (who was a year ahead of my class). Kathy and I had been very close at Colby, and she was eager to meet Leon after all these years. We had a delightful evening together. After dinner, we met up with more classmates and had good conversation long into the evening.
Lining up for the Parade of Classes
Saturday is always the main event at class reunions. The first order of the day is the parade of classes. Everyone lines up by class an we troop from the alumni center to the academic building. There are speeches and awards in the gym, then everyone troops into the field house for lobster and hamburgers. Leon had gone to the art building during the parade. Kathy, both Gregs (Kathy's husband and my former roommate) and I decided to cut the lecture (bringing back lots of old memories in the process) and caught up some more while walking around the duck pond. The class dinner was in the evening. Leon and I sat with Bruce and his wife Teri, roommate Greg, Kathy and husband Greg. It was everyone's first time meeting Leon, and I was pleased though not particularly surprised at how easily he blended in with the group.
Lorimer Chapel from on high
This morning, we got a guided tour of the library tower. The tour does not take you all the way to the top (though I have been all the way up in an illicit, late-night visit while still a student). Still, the view is splendid and everyone took many photos.
Looking north and west towards the mountains. On clear, cold winter days, a snow-covered Mt. Katahdin is visible on the horizon.
Goodbyes always come too soon at these things, and promises to be better at keeping in touch come too easily. Still, things have a way of working out. I've been marginally better at keeping in contact with Kathy since the last reunion (thanks, Facebook), and Bruce wants to bring his son out bug collecting with me sometime while I'm out in Arizona. Who knows? It was fun.