As a freshman, I never participated in the various traditions that most students here accomplish in their first few months. Returning for my second year, I knew it was time to start crossing off items on the unspoken Ithaca bucket list.
My first trip to the gorges was a battle: walking a mile or so to jump in freezing cold water isn’t really my idea of fun. Somehow, though, my best friend convinced me that I would have fun, that I’d be missing out if I didn’t go. So I went.
It was a sunny day, and the relatively long walk to Second Dam warmed me up so I was willing to go in the water. My adrenaline started pumping as soon as I jumped in, which helped keep me warm on the brief swim through numbingly cold water to the other side of the gorge.
We spent a few hours there, hanging out with other students from the surrounding areas (one guy came from Syracuse to visit the gorges–that’s how big of a deal they are) and the whole vibe was so relaxed as we soaked in the last summery days before school got hectic. We appreciated each other a bit more than usual; after spending a long four months apart we were happy to be back in this place, reunited and excited for the memories to come. Daredevils did ridiculous flips off high ledges, and we rated their dives from 1 to 10 as if we were at the Olympics. I sat at the top of the waterfall, looking over and pondering my own mortality yet knowing the rocks were holding me safely in place.
Turns out my best friend was right, as he often is. It was a perfect day.
Once the days got a bit colder, my goal shifted to accomplishing fall traditions. The main autumn activity around here is apple picking, so I went with a few friends to a nearby orchard. I climbed up enormous ladders into mazes of branches and leaves only to find that most of the apples that looked so beautiful from one side were completely rotten on the other. I ended up with a few edible-looking apples and no injuries despite the risky heights I climbed to, so I’d consider the apple picking a success.
Even more fun than the actual picking was the other shenanigans at the orchard. At the end of one of the long rows of apple trees there was an old broken down car–the only sign of life was the ivy growing in the trunk. Of course I couldn’t resist climbing on top of it and posing, causing my friends to burst out laughing.
The main area of the orchard also provided some entertainment for us after picking our apples. They sold apple cider (I prefer hot) and apple cider donuts (nice and cinnamon-y). Plus they had a swingset and a few of those ridiculous head-in-hole boards, which are one of my biggest simple pleasures in life. I hardly ever pass up an opportunity to take a photo with them, and the ones at the orchard were no exception. If I could go back and make freshman me participate in these Ithaca traditions, I probably would, but at the same time I appreciate having new and exciting activities to do because college isn’t novel anymore. It’s about finding the little things to cross off the bucket list and making great memories, no matter how far along in school you are.