I have a nephew who this fall is beginning his university education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I took classes at Queen’s University in 1996 and 1997. We were reflecting this afternoon on Mack’s decision to move to Kingston for the university, me along with my parents, and with my brother’s wife, my nephew’s mother.
These days I have an occasional interest in photography and I take photos at the cemetery where I help tend the grounds. You can find the website for our cemetery here. It can be a quiet spectacle. If I stand in the right spot, I can see the lay of the land, the stones jutting out of the ground beneath the colorful treetops. When the Fall is here, though, we won’t have much time, because as the temperature drops we spend less and less time taking care of the outdoors, and we move inside the church on the property.
When I was a Queen’s University Freshman in the Fall of 1996, the students were told to represent their divisions, whether it was Arts & Science, where I was allotted, or Commerce, or Fine Arts, and so on. One September day during Frosh Week the students were given balloons. The balloons got to be filled with water, and soon we were in a game of water balloons, instructed to take on our rivals with a sneak attack, and threw water balloon after water balloon onto the other team.
While it wasn’t businesslike, it didn’t strike me as strange after the days of parading and getting to know the campus of the school. What was a bit nonsensical, and I know I’m honestly a bit nonsensical myself, is that after the water balloon launch, my team were sat down in a lecture hall and admonished for doing such a lowly thing! A girl, more experienced, took the podium and told us how far we’d sunk for interfering with the flow of the Frosh Week. Novice though I was, I was astonished at the lesson we were being given.
My pride was injured. I felt the sting of rebuke as I sat and heard the bad of what we had done. As we took off after the lecture, most of us probably indifferent to the foolishness that had come down on us, I personally was a little more stiff with anger, and also on a path to greater rebelliousness. It didn’t seem like irony to me that we had played this prank, and been caught. It had been part of the fun, and it was wrongful.
I don’t reflect on this much, although I think now it was a lesson in doing the right thing and in showing respect. Perhaps it wasn’t; I should have asked if the girl who handed down to us the words of shame was taking advantage of an opportunity, and what was behind her stern talk. Nowadays, I snap photos and write and blog and participate in social media. I’ve mostly forgotten about what happened with me and the other Arts & Science Frosh and the water balloons.
The leaves at the cemetery change color, of course, and it is a passing joy to capture the image. Even without a photographic record, it is a calming presence at the cemetery as the green disappears. The days cool off slowly, and we take our time keeping the grounds in order. Fall is a lovely season and a favorite time of year for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.