In 1907 W.H. Nichols and E.F. Nichols gave an arboretum to the University of Michigan that extends from Hill Street to the river below. Almost seventy years later a grove of stately pines on the western edge of this land provided the inspiration for the pine seedlings now finding root in the Bluecircle. A recent visit to the Nichols Arboretum showed that much has not changed with the passing of time – students still share sports on the meadows and wine, snacks and companionship in the shady nooks. The pine grove remains stately in the evening sky, albeit taller than I remembered. But after more than 100 years the pines share a lesson not evident in their (and my) youth, since a few stand only as soaring grey monuments to lives lived at the top of a hill.
The first lake-effect snow flurries are falling on the Bluecircle at the beginning of Year 3. A bucket of flags from seedlings that failed to survive their first drought-stricken summer rests in the barn with other equipment. Frost has started to level the weeds that will need tilled under before replanting, and soon the first real snowfall will arrive. The ending of one year and advent of the next in the cold quiet of Michigan winters is a time for rest and consideration, for thanksgiving and moving beyond regrets. Still, while awaiting the cleansing blanket of snow and ice there is a time of uneasiness. A few hunters break the sunrise silence with their guns and gusts of November wind sweep the leaves and needles across the sand.