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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Photo Essay: Beauty in the Mundane

One writer documents the beauty in the little things that mark the arrival of spring in Hanover.


As the weather warms, students are quick to take advantage of the pleasures this time of year brings. While students often remember springs at Dartmouth for swims in the river, the shedding of layers and the celebration of Green Key, it’s the day to day comforts that make it the most meaningful. Like hearing a song you love that you didn’t realize you had forgotten, spring is filled with mundane rediscoveries that remind you just how lucky you are to call this town home. To explore the unique nuances of various locations around campus, I took a longer walk around Hanover, beginning from behind Baker-Baker, to the Green, to Occum Pond and finally to Pine Park. Throughout the journey, I documented what I saw. 

Berry’s Backyard

Walking through campus on a sunny day, the use of outdoor study spaces was one of the first things I noted. When asked about her choice to move her work outdoors, Sam Sizelove ’23 mentioned the improvement of her mood. 

“I started sitting out here at a time when I thought my mental health needed more time outside,” Sizelove said. “Sitting in this exact spot brings a lot of happy memories for me of the warmer weather of last year having such a positive impact on me and my mental health. Now I always try to do my work outside.” 

The swing outside Berry, nestled next to Kemeny, is the perfect place to hang out at all hours of the day. Grab an iced drink from Novack, Berry’s Backyard is a great place to catch up with friends and snooze between classes. 

“For context she was on the phone with an insurance company for three straight hours sitting out here,” Ben Lehrburger ’23 said, “and so that terrible experience combined with the good weather and being outside kind of neutralizes one another.” 

Gatherings on the Green

From playing spikeball to throwing around a frisbee, students engage in leisurely activities on and around the green, especially as seniors soak up their last few weeks under the Hanover sun. Benches now seat readers, and the Green is dotted with the colorful hues of quilts and iced refreshers.

“It’s nice just to be able to spend time with my friends and enjoy the last few months we have together before we go our separate ways. I want to take advantage of that while I can,” Adi Ogale ’23 said. 

Greetings on the Golf Course

The treadmills that never seem to be available in Alumni Gym now collect dust while students take their exercise outdoors. Bikes, roller blades and running shoes circle Occom Pond. The newly thawed golf course hosts picnics and tired students taking power naps between classes, including one particular writer for The Dartmouth, who shall remain nameless… 

Silhouettes Under the Sun

Just a little farther, between the arms of pines, students walk in conversation. As I walk, I realize I can’t recall the last time I watched the sun dance on the river or my shadow climb moss covered rocks alongside me.

Pacing around Pine 

Peyton Bond ’24 uses the warm weather as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. “I walk around and try to just observe my surroundings and focus on sinking my breathing with my steps, the sounds around me, the birds chirping, looking all around and being curious,” she explained. “It puts me in a meditative state.”

Strolls between the towering of the trees provide a shady coolness for walkers. This serenity does wonders for the body and mind, motivating people to step outside again and again. 

“In winter I feel like transitions were the worst part of my day,” Jordan Miller ’25 said. “Walking from my dorm to class, I really had to get bundled up both physically and mentally, whereas now transitions are some of the best parts of my day. A walk from class to my dorm turns into stopping to lie on the Green or going for a hike with friends.” 

Rowers on the River

For spring athletes, this time of year is an exciting one. After waiting all year for the chance to compete, the return of warmer months marks a time of anticipation and thrill. 

“When I’m walking down to practice, it’s light out, and I feel more refreshed and awake once I get to the boathouse, whereas in the winter it was dark and cold,” Cece Plass ’25 said. “Now, after practice, we can jump in the river, which to me feels really rejuvenating –– like I’m washing away the qualms of the day.”

A rower on the women’s team, Plass said she finds beauty in the solitude of rowing on the Connecticut River.

“There’s something special when your blade is cutting through the water and it’s sunny out. You can see your reflection and your shadow rowing. I feel like you’re very in tune with your body,” Plass said. “Where I rowed in Florida, you could see people running around the lake, or motor boats and yachts and jet skis on the bay. But I feel like as soon as you're past Ledyard, and you’re out in the thick of the river, the outside world disappears, and you’re just engulfed in the trees.”

As I made my sixth and final lap around Occum and shared smiles and “hellos” with students that, like me, made their laps around the twinkling body of water, I passed a woman walking her dog for the fifth time that day. 

“Hello, again!” She shouted. “It’s a beautiful day to keep walking, isn’t it?”

“It is,” I responded, thankful to have shared the warm weather with her.