maggiore-lake-eli-bridge-seffrin-2011-300x225Remember when you were young and school had “party” days, “rec” days, or all day field trips? Those were the best days of the school year. Party days had pizza, juice and usually some educational or Disney movie playing. Rec days were like having all day recess and sometimes the adults played too. The all-day field trip was everyone’s favorite. Once you got to school a bus took the class to its destination and you didn’t have to see the classroom until it was time to grab your belongings and go back home. At the college level, the “best school day ever” is a little more structured and refined but the point is that it still exists. For me, it happened on a Thursday on a lake in a park with about ten of my peers, a professor and his friend.

The sun was shining just as bright as it ever does when we pulled into the parking spot at the park. We all got out, stretching and looking for the rest of the class. While I didn’t see the class right away, I did notice the loud and stinking mulch plant across the parking lot. We all agreed the air smelled like rotting wood and went looking for our class. We all met up under a pavilion. I had been looking forward to this educational adventure for several days and while I should have been more engaged in the class discussion I could not help but look around and take in my surroundings. Even though the air smelled sort of putrid the breeze was nice and the temperature was perfect. There was much space to look across and I kept noticing the water in which we would be canoeing. Tall grass was dominating the scene. I would soon find out how much water was behind all that grass. Sitting under the pavilion, looking at the tall grass and water, smelling the air and feeling the breeze, I thought to myself, I am so happy we are not in the classroom today. I felt calm and excited at the same time.

Once we were all in our little, rocking and seemingly unstable canoes, and headed in the same direction, we started paddling. Now I had never canoed before and neither had my partner. We soon found out that paddling as hard and fast as you can, does not help one in getting anywhere any faster. We were out of breath and sweating under our life jackets while the rest of the class was canoeing ahead of us. However, I forgot all about racing to the front when I realized that we were canoeing through the tall grass I admired from the pavilion. Slicing through it like a knife the canoe split the grass and as we turned through what seemed like a maze in the water, the smell in the air became less putrid and sweeter. The sound of the mulching machine faded and our little canoe brought us out into a wide open area of what is called Lake Maggiore. Houses dotted the shoreline to the left. On the right I was looking at trees, and more tall grass. Lily pads. I had never seen so many lily pads.

Beyond that we came to a little bridge that we canoed under and into a quiet and calm area cut out along the lake that seemed to be a world apart from the mulching business going on not so many yards away. It is here that I saw a White Water Lily. Not just one, but several. I was smack in the middle of what seemed like a remote waterway in some other world where the land and water were enchanted and unknown. It was so serene. The soft breeze, the white flowers floating among the lily pads, the tall grass, and I was in a world all of my own. This moment was perfect. The setting was unimaginable for a moment.

Canoeing back was much more relaxed. I was trying to savor all of the scenery as we paddled and I felt slightly unsatisfied as I was not ready to go back to campus. Several Coonts ran across the water with their cartoonish feet and the grass waved back and forth in the breeze as if it were saying farewell for now. And although I never found out what the name of that beautiful grass was, it certainly turned out to be another best school day ever.