This is my favorite tree on Augustana’s campus because it demands attention. Not only does its immense size dominate the landscape but its shadow takes up as much space as its branches. Anyone who walks past it is instantly absorbed. As I cross its path, my own shadow gradually disappears. I am no longer able to recognize my image within its shade; my identity is lost within the tree’s darkness.
Shadows provide us with the opportunity to become a part of the landscape, and yet we see this absorption as a loss of control. We believe the act of acknowledging nature’s power is the same thing as succumbing to it. Rather than embracing this uniting, we fear it and, as a result, we cut it down. Even though this reaction is destructive, it is still difficult to understand why such a darkness would be created by the sun’s own rays. Perhaps it is the dichotomy between the dark and the light that exposes the brilliance of the sun. Without the ease of the shadow, the sun would be blinding; without the coolness of the shade, our skin would burn. In this way, the tree does not oppress its pedestrians, but stands between us and the direct heat of the sun, relieving us from its radiation. Shadows do not engulf our bodies, they embrace them.
My name is Lauren Sim and I am from Maple Plain, Minnesota. I am currently a senior at Augustana University majoring in English and Religion/Philosophy with a minor in Classics. I’ve had the pleasure of working on this project as Ann Pederson’s Teaching Assistant and hope to incorporate collaborative projects of this nature into my future work as an English professor.