Why I wake up early

Photo credit - Liv Wilson

Photo credit – Liv Wilson (Connibear Shellhouse prior to 7am launching and docking point)


A race is not won in one stroke, but many strokes over the length of the course. Before you pull up you are tapped on the back you turn and there is a hand outstretched. You extend your own hands in front and behind you to your teammates, there is a momentary silence and everyone’s hands squeeze. The hands all squeezing are like a silent mantra, “We can do this, together.” All hands drop and your return to your positions looking dead ahead, where you will look for the rest of the race. “All eight sit ready,” the coxswain’s voice rings out over the silence, “attention, Row.” All nine prepare as they gain speed into the line. The knock of the oar at the end of each stroke signals the next swing out to the catch. Up the slide, roll the wheels, knock goes the blade as it is turned to the correct position. Splash, as the blade is backed into the water and a v of water sprays off either end. Woosh of the slide as eight rowers push off and lean back. Knock. The cycle repeats as the coxswain calls the rowers to add some more push. They come closer to the line. “You are at a 28, two more strokes to build to our race pace of 30. That’s one.” Splash. Knock. Woosh. “That’s two.” Splash. Knock. Woosh. “You’re on! This is where we start it right here!” You have passed the starting marker now a bright bobbing triangle in the recent distance. “We have already begun walking the crew ahead of us.” You keep your eyes locked ahead pushing away stroke by stroke, the competitors behind you. Each stroke is easy now, you are running of free energy as you go into the first turn of the race. “This is going to be a port turn. Ports pressure up. Starboards pressure down.” The boat pivots to starboard with each stroke. “Even pressure!” The hard knock signals the rowers’ response. Down and away to keep the blades off the water. Sitting up at the catch to grab that last bit of water. Jumping off on the drive and easing up on the recovery. Shook, is the rush of air out of each pair of lungs on the drive. Ahh, is the inhalation of each pair of lungs on the rowers’ way up to the catch.


Photo Credit - Hailey Greer (In the Montlake Cut)

Photo Credit – Hailey Greer (In the Montlake Cut) The Coxswain is wearing a jacket and back is turned in this picture

Photo Credit - Hailey Greer (In the Montlake Cut)

Photo Credit – Hailey Greer (In the Montlake Cut) Starboards are people who’s blades appear on the left side of the picture, while Ports are rowers who’s blades appear in the right side of the picture

“We are coming in to the Cut.” Every muscle in your body tenses. Every person sits up taller. “That’s your team cheering for you. Show them how we take this boat.” Shook. Ahh. “With Power!” Shook. Ahh. “With Grace.” Shook. Ahh. The sound of the Logger cheer rises as you get closer. “Make them proud!” Splash. Knock. Woosh. The boat is continuously picking up speed. Your crew is feeding off the energy of the crowd in Montlake Cut. The burn in your legs begins to creep back into your mind as you fall off the energy of the crowd and you are long past the cut. “We are on track for our goal time.” The reminder that this race is won on time and that even if we can’t see the other crews in our event we are still racing them. The pop at the catch comes back and the focus is pulled back in. Splash. Knock. Woosh. You only think about the stroke you are taking. “We are coming up on the turn. Starboards I’m going to need that pressure, Ports ease it off.” The whole race you have been neck and neck with two other boats the one just behind you and one just ahead of you. On the turn all three of you’re very close. You can see one of the boats out of the corner of your eye. The turn is over you are back on. “They got the inside of the turn, let’s make up that water in this last 500 meters.” Your back hurts and makes you want to curl over, while your lungs are raw. So you drive harder, and pop off the catch faster. You can see the competition you have regained a lot of ground. “Last 150 meters. Where do you want to finish? Show me here!” The whole boat sends in the final strain. The last sprint to get over the finish line first. Splash. Knock. Woosh. The cycle has sped up. Splash. Knock. Woosh. There is nothing on your mind but getting to then end first. “Your done. Weigh enough.” The breaths are ragged, and uneven. You are tapped on the back once more to find the faces of the people whom you rowed with and an outstretched hand this time for a fist bump. This time the hand tells you, “We did it!”

Photo Credits - Lilie Gross

Photo Credits – Lilie Gross (Connibear Shellhouse in the morning launching and docking point)



Fall on Campus

Fall has rolled in the same way that the wind tumbles and sprints starting at the field house and reaching a low rumble in the President’s woods. One of the best parts of fall, other than any and everything pumpkin flavored appearing in stores, are the smells. Cinnamon is a constant scent floating out of the kitchens on campus, and becomes something second nature to sprinkle on in not only a to-go oatmeal, but also on top of an already hot drink. The air is something that we encounter every day and therefore is easily overlooked, but the Northwest air is to me a stark contrast to where I grew up in Southern California. I was grown in an arid climate amongst rolling hills covered in the odd low brush. So once fall comes around it is similar to the rest of the year just a little cooler. The trees go from green to brown, and then usually barren. The trees around Tacoma still fascinate me their being a full process of color range that is throughout the tree. Little can rival the trees and their warm happy welcome of change is the air. Taking in a breath of air in Tacoma is another level of relaxing that I can only begin to approach when on a calm beach at night. Each inhalation revitalizes and cools me down to the smallest level in my lungs, the little balloons that are my alveoli, allow for an exchange of not only oxygen, but almost the life force of our community. I understand as a scientist that there is no quantifiable way of measuring what I consider to be our community’s life force, and I began to try understanding it the second time I visited. I first was met with the kindness and openness of the people here when I visited the summer of my junior year. I truly fell in love with the campus when I visited again in the fall and had a chance to become part of the Logger family. I may be biased in my love for all that happens once the leaves fall. From an early age I associated fall with going to my sister’s soccer games, my birthday, as well as my family making and eating good food together. My kinship with autumn may be in its defiant nature; I am the youngest of three girls which meant that I wanted to do what my sister’s where doing regardless of if I was the right age or size for the activity. At the age of four I was at a loss of why the people who were merely six years older than myself thought they could beat me at soccer. This only led to me trying to scrimmage with them, to my oldest sister’s horror and my delight I would crash her practices. On the sidelines I would squirm, dribbling, practicing, attempting to emulate what I saw, and waiting for my chance to be able to be on a team as well. I have been in team sports ever since first grade, when I was signed up for a recreational soccer team. Just as quickly as I began I had to stop, because I was injured part way through the season. So began my subconscious understanding of fall as change and family. Fall is often defined by the changes we can see in the leaves beautiful golden, red, and orange hues, or those we can feel as the temperature drops outside. However you recognize fall you cannot deny the wonder that occurs.