how, wrapped in Winter’s stole, this dome of light
contains the fire of an August day;
how, row on row, the most unlikely mates
cohabitate — the orchid and the mum,
the sundew and the bashful trillium,
the quince and kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate;
and how, if failing to cross pollinate,
we’re all the wiser, still, for having had
the bees to teach us of the others’ ways.
Cold-frame apprenticed, we have learned the craft
of unconcern and to endure the world
beyond these walls – to bend and bloom in spite
of drought, deluge. We are prepared to root,
to answer any distant garden’s call.
When I was asked to contribute a poem about what it means to be part of the FSC community, the first image that popped into my head was a greenhouse – probably because of FSC’s long history in agriculture and horticulture, but also because, metaphorically speaking, greenhouses and colleges are quite similar. Everything – the light, temperature, moisture — is very controlled and deliberate in a greenhouse, and this is to ensure optimal growth. Curricula are designed with the same intentionality; they’re meant to optimize students’ growth into particular disciplines or professions. Similarly, professional development opportunities are designed to support and optimize faculty’s growth within instruction, service, scholarship, and so on.
I also think what’s interesting about a greenhouse is that one often finds a variety of plants that, otherwise, would never grow together in the wild; they might be from different parts of the country or even from different parts of the world. A college is also a space that makes it possible to bring into contact large numbers of folks with different expertise, beliefs, and practices, which can have a profound impact on the course of one’s personal and professional development. This is something in particular that has profoundly affected (and continues to affect) my own growth – not just as a librarian but also as a human being in general.
Finally, while I was doing a little research on greenhouses, I learned about cold frames; one use of the cold frame is to prepare plants that are accustomed to growing in a greenhouse to be able to survive when moved into a garden permanently. That struck me as an apt metaphor for experiential learning and internships which prepare one to anticipate and prepare for challenges so that, ultimately, one can thrive in their chosen field.
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