Of the pumpkins of these recurring

Mark Hammontree

I looked up Saturday and realized Halloween was but a week away, and I still haven’t found myself a costume. Then I realized there’s only two home games left in my last football season as a student, and I next thought about how I’m a quarter of the way through my last two semesters at the University.

And I swear, just yesterday I was moving into Riverside North and trying to make sense of this place called “college.” Senior year is funny that way, and I’m still trying to make sense of everything even as each week seems to go by more quickly than the last.

To quote Ferris Bueller and at least twenty thousand high school seniors finding quotes for the yearbook, “life moves pretty fast.” Yes, it does Mr. Bueller, and this semester, I’ve been doing my best to appreciate my last year at the University. But so far, I’ve felt like there’s been a great deal missing from what I’d told myself senior year should be like.

I can’t help but feel that my first three years were just filled with more excitement, more spontaneous adventures, more memories. Even my annual trip to the pumpkin patch was a little disappointing at first, as the patch seemed much less sincere, and hardly the kind of place you might expect the Great Pumpkin to haunt. Everyone has sold out, even my beloved pumpkin patch.

Senior year seems to be trying to get from one week to the next, always looking ahead: to my teaching internship, to graduation, to finding a job, to moving away, to starting a life and becoming the kind of real, actual adult I’m already seeing many of my friends becoming.

And that certainly is exciting in itself, and petrifying. I’m ready to leave the University, but I’m anxious about arriving somewhere new. I’m thankful for the education I’m still receiving, but I want to have my own classroom and to have my own students, but I’m terrified I might fail them. And while I love the many strong and inspiring people I’ve met who have made great changes on this campus, I’m tired of the politics of campus, of the obstinacy of administrators and of trustees and of students and alumni.

I find myself feeling like I’m just going through the motions, and missing the little things that used to be enough. To channel a poet of more large-ness than Bueller, “I fear I’m losing myself in the trains of the faithless and foolish. And what good amid these?”

Which brings me back to the pumpkin patch. Each fall, my trip up I 20-59 to Vance, Alabama, to pick a dusty pumpkin and pet some smelly animals is about my favorite part of the semester.

I was surrounded by many of the people I love most. I found a big, round pumpkin, and I pet a fat, round cow named MooMoo. I witnessed the joy of petting a bunny and a small child’s smile, and I remembered that joy a bit more strongly when a little pig snuffled in my hand.

Sometimes things aren’t as exciting as they used to be, and the verse you contribute isn’t always going to be beautiful, exhilarating or courageous – but you are here. The reality of that in itself is thrilling enough even in all the sometimes dull repetitiveness of day-to-day life. Sometimes, though, you need a pumpkin patch to remind you.

Mark Hammontree is a senior majoring in secondary education – language arts. His column runs weekly.