Today’s featured blogger is Hannah Rayhill, ’18 – an English and Anthropology major from New Hartford, NY. Learn more about Jessica here.

My most favorite aspect of the Union College Campus is Jackson’s Garden. For those of you that don’t know, Jackson’s Garden is a couple acres of land behind our campus center that is maintained by our school as a outdoor common space for all to enjoy. There is a tree that is just inside the entrance of the Garden tucked to the left a little ways down the main path. This tree’s trunk splits into three trunks that caper around each other in a very aesthetically pleasing and fortuitous way. As a first year, I wandered into the Garden with the intention to find a space for me to read on a nice day.

Being an antsy first year, however, I very quickly got distracted by the people taking walks in the garden, the beautiful botany of the surrounding area, and the overall gorgeousness of the day. This antsy-ness spurred me to move I stood up from the bench I was sitting on and looked up. I was staring at the overreaching branches of this beautiful, old tree. The way that the light hit the green of the leaves and reflected down to me was mesmerizing. There. I needed to get up there. I started to climb.

For those of you who don’t know me, this is a VERY questionable decision. I am not, by any means, known for my coordination. I climbed this (more than 100-year-old) tree regardless of this trait (or lack thereof) of mine. I got approximately 7 feet up the tree when I remembered something–I am desperately TERRIFIED of heights. I looked down and began to hug the branch I was on, clutching the bark so hard I had splinters in my fingers and my hands were cramping for days afterward. I talked myself out of a panic using the rationale, “you cannot be known in college as the freshman girl who was freaking out because she climbed five feet up into a tree”. I loosened my grip and settled myself into a nook in the branches I had climbed. After a while, I felt completely relaxed.

Eventually, I climbed down (so that I would not be late to class) and I realized that I had found my favorite place on campus–a place that was uniquely calming and perfect for me. Every fall and and spring I can be found doing my work, reading and writing in this big, beautiful tree in Jackson’s Garden.

Jackson’s Garden is a favorite spot among students and is also a certified wildlife habitat! Read more about Jackson’s Garden here.

Photos courtesy of Union Admissions.