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The Spring Quarter Slide (With Apologies to the Trees)

photo of the trees

The trees

It happens every year. My favorite group of trees on the lakefront come alive with beautiful, delicate, fragrant blossoms in spite of the winter weather they endure. Half of them white, half of them pink, their branches positively exploding with flowers. I make a point of walking through them every day this time of year, a seasonal ritual that makes me very happy.

These beautiful blossoming branches often remind me of things—new life, nature’s amazing wonder and beauty, or my own springtime wedding. This year I also see my MSC experience in the branches. Me, emerging from a winter of challenging course work and professional self-scrutiny, feeling the sun shine again, ready to bloom.

Just when the white blossoms peak, the pink blooms emerge, and eventually they both give way to full green leaves. So too, the MSC experiences seem to flow as one event triggers the next. Winter quarter fades into spring, the orchestrated chaos of studying ensues, and now I’m thinking about graduation announcements. With apologies to the trees, having watched them year after year, they remind me of how far I’ve come.

Spring quarter didn’t start out this way. It got off to a bumpy start for me, and I’m not sure why. Spring break, unlike the winter break that preceded it full of holidays and obligations, was a real rest. My husband and I briefly escaped the cold weather to a warmer place where I completely unplugged. Then I kept the flame alive reading books recommended in the Globalization class. Winter quarter was quite challenging, but I felt proud of my work as I reflected upon it in the rearview mirror.

Back in class, though, it became clear how much each quarter has its own personality. New classes and new professors bring new types of learning experiences, and it was disruptive for me. In both classes I’m responsible for weekly assignments in addition to midterms and finals, which distributes the load differently but is more consistently tiring. And in a way, starting Q3 made me feel like we were already done; adjusting to the changes felt futile.

By Week 4, thankfully, I had a routine down and felt more like myself. It’s a short-lived platitude, since the number of Saturdays left in this particular session is rapidly dwindling. But, I’m learning valuable nuggets in my classes. I look forward to my weekly assignments. And it feels good to be finding a stride, even if it’s inevitably short lived.

close up of pink blossoms

See, exploding with flowers!

Maybe it’s all the pollen, but I really admire those white and pink trees. This year, they also cause me to realize I am feeling really good about what I’ve accomplished and about what lies ahead. The purpose of the pain is becoming clear. Winter is a memory and lo, there is life within the earth again. Like the blooming branches, I have something valuable to contribute, and I’m feeling optimistic that I will get my turn.