Cloaked in a canopy of withered, towering trees with the green barely clinging to life is a paved, winding trail. It encircles the campus like an invisible ring, and it is open to any who desires to traverse it. With green street lamps strewn around the trail, their glow illuminating the path at night, it reminds me of Narnia after Lucy entered the Wardrobe. I imagine if the towering trees could talk, they would have a lot to say. They talk in their own special way, the wind streaming through the holes in their foliage causes them to whisper and surround me with reprieve from the unfortunate October humidity. I imagine if they could talk, secrets would be the first things they shared … and I am sure there are many strange events that have occurred on those trails that the trees would gladly tell.
But they can’t. I, however, can.
I know a secret that is dear to those who can find it. It’s easy to find if you are paying attention. But, as I walked the trail, I notice strangers and those who were familiar to me alike, determined in their steps, looking down at their screens, always in a hurry. I took it slow. Phone in my pocket, eyes darting left to right, soaking in all I could. Then I saw it. The dip in the trees, the open space with a man-made, steep dirt path leading to a smooth, large rock embedded in the ground, large enough that I am sure twenty people could share the space, fifteen if you wanted to be comfortable. Then I saw it, dangling from a sturdy tree surrounded with vines: a rope swing. It swayed slightly with the breeze, the tan colored and twisted, a large knot ties at the bottom, making it easier for feet to grip. I imagine a former student, bored from homework and all the other dark valleys of college life, left his or her dorm one night to find a perfect place for this rope swing: a small reprieve from daily life.
It dangles over shallow water full of tiny pebbles, tadpoles, fallen leaves, and crayfish who sneak out of their homes for a split second to see what all the ruckus is about. One would have to time their swing just right and release themselves from the rope over deeper water, and even then they might emerge from the water with a few scrapes of bruises. As I walked by the place I knew well, I saw a young man wearing a dingy white t-shirt and sweat pants sitting on the rock alone, staring at the swing. He, too, I would guess, was trying to escape for a moment. He, too knew the secret of the rope swing, which is there for any who can find it.