Friday, February 27, 2015

Snow Day at Duke Gardens!

View of the Terrace Gardens from the Frances P. Rollins Overlook
Photos and text by Micaela Unda

With Durham covered in a powdery layer of snow, and slippery ice coating the roads, Duke students got great news from the university on Thursday: snow day! And where else would students go to see pristine nature in its most wintery form other than Duke Gardens?

Snow trodden zigzag pathway 
I was among them, stepping carefully down the snowy paths leading to the Terrace Gardens, watching fellow students construct their own snowman creations. Although the weather was frigid, students'  worries melted away as they enjoyed the day free from homework and classes. Embracing the inner children within themselves, college students became youngsters once more and what would otherwise have been a typical school day instead became one of fun, foolishness and frolicking.

Duke Gardens' water features provide
opportunities for reflection.
As I passed through the Terrace Gardens and followed the footprint-covered trail to the Asiatic Arboretum, the striking red bridge became a stopping point for impromptu photoshoots as students gathered to pose for classic snow day pictures. Students commented that ever since the “snowpocalypse” of last winter, coming to the Gardens and posing amongst the zig-zagging paths and ubiquitous benches has become a tradition for them. Meandering by the frozen-over pond and Canadian geese, yet more students awed at the beauty of the sculptural, icy fountains and the flora in winter. For some, it was their first time visiting. 
A Duke student explores the Gardens during a snow day
I highly encourage those first-timers to make a return trip. Amongst the hustle and bustle and busyness associated with being a Duke student, I have found a haven in the Gardens. Although I enjoy my fair share of nostalgic snowy games, simply walking among the trees is  reminder enough to take a breath and de-stress. I would at times stop and simply stare up, appreciating the quiet sounds and small moments of privacy. For the Gardens are more than a beautiful winter scene, but rather a true escape. On this snow day, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this. 
Asiatic Arboretum and Japanese-style arched bridge
So a call to all students out there, whether it be for lying on the snowy South Lawn painting snow angels, taking in the beauty of the plants in winter, or spontaneous explorations amongst the 55 acres of snow-covered footpaths, come enjoy Duke Gardens; for they are a place for you!
A peaceful moment of solitude among the trees.

Blogger and photographer Micaela Unda is a freshman at Duke University studying Environmental Science and Policy, and she is a Duke Gardens work-study assistant.

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