Wednesday, August 11, 2010
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet, Lecturer and Essayist
School is upon us and with that comes those awkward 'let's go around the room' introductions that are an inevitable part of any college class. Besides the standard questions (name, hometown, major, year in school) I usually try to ask another that is in some way related to our class or at least out of the norm. For instance in Business Ethics I ask students to tell us about their best and worst jobs ever (most can only come up with worst jobs at this point in their lives). But I always think of the story my best friend from high school, Hoops, tells about his first day experience in grad school. Right off the bat it was clear the professor was a bit eccentric by the way he spoke. He gave instructions to the class to go around the room stating the usual things and then very seriously he looked at them and said, "And then tell us about your favorite tree. Okay, let's start with you." I don't know why that struck me so funny, I guess it's that the professor assumed the students had a favorite. Or maybe because it's such an odd question to ask someone you're trying to get to know. After all, I'm not sure it's revelatory of the personality or interests of the person whether they prefer oaks to maples, pines to peach trees. But who knows, maybe it is. Anyway, my answer: the mimosa. These are everywhere here in the south, in fact, they grow like weeds. But we just don't have these in northern Illinois where I'm from, so when I moved here and saw these trees lining the highways with their fern-like leaves and unusual, mid-summer blooms, I knew then I had a ready-answer in case I was ever asked. Okay, so here's the question for today, "What is your favorite tree and why?" Let's start with you.