Friday, May 11, 2012

Of Bears and Buffaloes

Today is Graduation Day in Boulder, Colorado. For all those joining the ranks of CU-Boulder Alumni - a group that includes not merely Yours truly, my sis Jill, brother-in-law Joe and a veritable rogues' gallery that includes the Nepalese Nightmare, Schneeds and my partner in all things of questionable legality (the one and only Mr. Bauer) but a whole lot more fine folks - I say, "Congratulations", "Well done" and all that jazz. I also say, "Thank you". The addition of another 5,000 or so to the Alumni rolls means that the frequency with which a certain member of the Class of '89 receives phone calls and solictations for money from our Alma mater will decrease.

Looking back on college I know not what strikes me as more amazing. The fact that I graduated or the fact that close to a quarter-century has passed between that day and this one. One of my favorite photos of Mom and me was taken that morning - May 12, 1989 - after Schneeds and I officially been pronounced as "graduates". We stood on the field across from the CU Events Center (and back then the only occasion all year for which the Events Center was filled to capacity was graduation. Thank you Coach Boyle for changing all that by the way) with the mountains in the background. Mom, ever the good sport, held up my cap on which I had written "ADSEY" in tape in the vain hope that it would help my family (Kara, Jill and Joe all made the trek west with Mom) see me in the see of 5,000-plus graduates.

The original of that photo is where it has been for too many years to count: in a frame on a bookcase in my office.

A couple of years ago, while Mom was chilling at the beach with Jill and Joe, we teamed up for an updated photo, which is also among my favorite pictures - and which occupies a place of honor in our den at home. I took a look at it last night when I got home from work and I was amazed to see the effect of a quarter-century or so of time staring back at me in living color. Its effect on me at least.

I think Mom looks as if she has aged about 18 minutes in 20+ years. Her son on the other hand....let us just say that the salt I have excised from my diet has wound up in my beard and my hair. 'Tis a trade-off I would gladly take ten times out of ten.

Here is to hoping that whatever paths the CU-Boulder Class of 2012 blazes that they enjoy the journey. Life is a trip of indeterminate length. As the late, great British comic Benny Hill once observed, "Life each day as if it were your last because one day you are going to be right." Words to live by indeed.

Finally, while I have no idea of this young man is a member of the Class of 2012, I could not let an entire piece devoted to my Alma mater go by without praising CU student photographer Andy Duann. Andy was toiling for the campus paper, the CU Independent when he captured an image that any shutterbug would give his eye teeth to have scored. Andy's photo has been dubbed - in some circles at least - "Falling Bear". You shall no doubt be pleased to learn that no bears were injured in the taking of Andy's photo. Check out the slideshow for yourself.

Sadly, "Falling Bear" shall not be attending graduation ceremonies this morning. A week or so after he went tree-climbing at Williams Village he died. He was struck by a car while wandering across the Denver-bound lanes of U.S. 36, which is the highway that connects Boulder and Denver. Authorities had released him into a wilderness area some fifty miles west of Boulder after his brush with academia but apparently the allure of Boulder was too much for him to overcome....

....a feeling with which a certain percentage of today's graduating class can relate. Of that I am quite certain.


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