Unbalanced: Caffeine high

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

We have no gorgeous mountain views at Notre Dame, and the Café de Grasta scene through tall windows offers little more than picnic tables, sidewalks, trees and green grass, with an occasional squirrel or sparrow for local fauna.

But when the Notre Dame Magazine staff meets at the Grace Hall café for coffee on a Thursday morn, we do get an occasional glimpse of unusual student activity.

Our recent favorite was the young woman in a T-shirt and sweats practicing what appeared to be ballet moves on the sidewalks near the café. Through the slats of the oversized vertical blinds, we’d spy her swooping back and forth, kicking up a foot here, sliding in a glissade there. As she turned and twirled in a precise but blithe routine, we’d stop our conversation to watch.

Ah, youth.

The other morning our attention was caught by an odd version of Twister. A group of about a dozen students, half of them blindfolded, stood near bright orange paper squares placed on the sidewalk. A sighted student would grab the foot of a blindfolded one and place it on an orange square. The blindfolded student moved his other foot to the square, and the exercise continued around the orange path.

Psychology class? Trust exercise? To us, simply a morning’s mystery we didn’t wish to solve, an unusual event to add spice to the day’s beginning.

Whenever we catch such scenes, they always remind me of the joys one easily finds on a college campus. Whether it’s two students walking to class in deep discussion of some abstruse point — “The relativity of that,” I once heard one student tell another, “is amazingly consistent across boundaries” — or the shouts of laughter at some shared joke, the vibrant life in this community of learners speaks loudly of life’s enduring richness.

And at Thursday coffee, where our staff discussions can range from baseball to maggots to great story ideas, such slices of student vitality give us an infusion of cheer and hope and happiness. And that’s a great way to start the day.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.