I love Michigan autumn. The trees shed beautiful leaves and the air smells crisp, which makes for wonderful walks along the campus.
Sometimes though, I want to sit.
Over the last few weeks we have experienced shockingly high temperatures for this time of year. Overnight it seemed, my favorite fall vistas were met with a comfortable feeling of warmth. Students were no longer forced to wear jackets and layers; short sleeve shirts and hoodies did the trick!
My friends and I celebrated our cozy autumn days with iced tea and rolling our car windows down. Unfortunately though, it seems that with every sunny day comes a cloud. In this case, our homework swelled around us like a dismal cumulonimbus.
I was distraught. Then a thought struck through my homework-cumulonimbus like lighting: we could do our work outside!
My excitement grew as I packed my bag, ready to do homework surrounded by nature. That feeling was sadly short-lived. As I walked onto the quad I was met with a startling realization. There are only three picnic tables on Albion’s quad, and they were taken. So, I set off on a mission to find the perfect place to sit outside and enjoy the serene day. Unfortunately, all I could find were some awkwardly placed benches near Baldwin. Sitting by the dining hall as cars whizzed past me was not the vibe I was looking for. I wish I could say I kept trying, that I walked to the Whitehouse Nature Center and laid out a blanket, but I didn’t. Instead, I gave up.
I walked to the library and holed up in the Mudd basement, missing the fall smell of wet leaves. Within a few hours, I had completed my work, only to find that the day had met its end and darkness had consumed the sky. My shoulders sank. Tomorrow, I told myself, I would enjoy the warmth.
I always enjoy studying outside. During the pandemic, I spent as much of my time learning outside as possible, desperate to escape my room. Perhaps my uptick in productivity is because I’m not stuck in my tiny room or the library’s cold basement. Maybe it’s the soothing feeling of being surrounded by trees, the brush of wind against my neck and the subtle background noise that nature brings.
It should be noted that working outside can have immense benefits. Saint Leo University wrote a blog regarding the benefits of studying outdoors.
“It takes you out of your normal surroundings, giving you something new and different to look forward to when learning your lessons,” said the website.
The benefits of being outside extend beyond productivity. According to the American Psychological Association, we are nurtured by nature.
“Exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation,” said the website.
I yearn for places where I can enjoy the beauty of nature while being productive. The students of this college deserve the benefits being outside can yield. It may seem trivial, but I believe that we need more outdoor seating, for the enjoyment of all.