AC Voice Appreciates: Amherst’s Nocturnes

I can’t express how beautiful this campus is (and I know I’m not the first one to say this) but this campus is gorgeous. The Holyoke mountain range is striking, no matter what vantage point, Memorial Hill, Merrill Library, or (my favorite spot) behind the Mead. It’s especially nice like to look at the ranges right after sundown because somehow there is a remnant of light that silhouettes the mountain ranges from behind. To me, the glow has almost a pinkish quality, and it makes me wonder what lies beyond the ranges.

After this long winter, I’ve also found what is the best part about the snow. It’s how the trees and their bare twisted branches collect newly fallen snow. Its like a fine powder covers the trees; it reaches all their nooks and nubs. Even the tiniest twigs are coated with a thin layer of snow. The trees and their intricate branches look so delicate and serene that it makes treading through the snow worth it.

However, my favorite thing is to walk around campus at night. You may ask why? You can barely see the campus. But I love walking home from the library and staring out into the night sky. The moon’s brilliance is intense against the dark, navy sky, and there is something so grounding about looking up at the moon, especially after a long (sometimes even dizzying) night at the library. It may seem silly to associate looking at the night sky with my experience at Amherst, but these nighttime walks, to me, mark my time at Amherst; they are distinctive to my time here. There is something unique about the experience of gazing up at the enormous night sky, while being in such an extreme environment that is both socially and academically demanding. There is something comforting about seeing the moon and tracking (even if subconsciously doing so) its phases or seeing it light up clouds on a stormy night.

I never realize how excited I am to see the moon or how much it centers, me until it’s a new moon, and I don’t see it hanging up in the sky anymore. For example, when I got back to campus after break it was a new moon, so when I looked up at the sky I didn’t see the moon. It totally threw me off, but also made me appreciate even more my nighttime walks with the moon hovering over me. These walks give me a daily chance to pause for a bit and take a step away from my stresses, which seem to fade away into night’s silence, as I gaze up at the vivid moon.

*One other thing that I just realized about the moon, it is so hard to capture its brilliance with a photo (at least I can’t). This makes it even more worth it to take the time to appreciate it in real life!