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Harvard Yard (bis)

Darwin posing in front of the statue of John HarvardElissa is a Preceptor at Harvard University, teaching Expository Writing via a course in her academic specialty, Biological Anthropology. Her course, called "Darwinian Dating (The Evolution of Human Attraction)" is very popular, particularly among freshmen considering going into one of the sciences.

Each year kicks off with a lunch for incoming freshmen, and for three years in a row now, Margie and I have watched Darwin during this event. All sorts of activities for the incoming class are always in progress in Harvard Yard, where we've generally spent most of our time.

Since Darwin was born in late February, and this event occurs in late August, Darwin's age the first time was six months, then 1.5 years, and this year 2.5 years. In fact, this year (2015), the event occurred on exactly the day that Darwin turned two and a half. The photo to the left shows Dar standing in the Yard under the statue of John Harvard. We waited our turn among the tourists taking similar photos. John Harvard's left foot is shiny, as tourists seem to rub it for luck.

The first two times we did this, Darwin was still taking naps around lunchtime. So on both occasions, we mostly wheeled her around the Yard in her stroller until she fell asleep. The end of my 2013 blog entry called Solid food mentioned our caring for Darwin that year, and introduced my observation that Elissa had "Parked her Dar in Harvard Yard". We got a lot of exercise, since we pushed her around for an entire half hour. At six months, continuous motion of the stroller was needed to keep her from waking up.

In 2014, I wrote an entire blog entry about the event, called Harvard Yard. At a year and a half, Dar was still taking a mid-day nap, and that entry has a picture of her sleeping in her stroller. But it also has a video of her collecting rocks and acorns in the Yard, an activity she engaged in enthusiastically after she woke up. And Footnote 2 of that entry explains the phrase "I parked my Dar in Harvard Yard", for those who might not know what it means.

This year, at age 2½ (exactly), Darwin stayed awake the entire time. We met Elissa and Darwin as usual at one of the outdoor tables in front of the Au Bon Pain restaurant, where we ate lunch. We then crossed Massachusetts Avenue and walked into Harvard Yard, which as usual was full of incoming Harvard freshmen and their families. Darwin observed the crowd with great interest, and then remarked to Margie (with a tone of surprise, Margie thought) that she didn't know anybody.

I later calculated Darwin's college graduation year, assuming she enters first grade in the Arlington school system at six years of age. That puts her in the class of 2035. Curiously, that's exactly 100 years after my father, Daniel David Krakauer, graduated from Cornell University.

That surprised me a bit, because Dan was born in 1915, and Dar was born 98 years later, not 100 years later. It seems that Darwin will graduate at age 22 years and a bit over 3 months. But if my calculations are correct, assuming Dan graduated in June, 2035, he was only 19! He didnít celebrate his 20th birthday until September 16, 2035. Perhaps he was in some sort of accelerated program in High School.

After spending some time in the Yard, including photographing Darwin in front of the statue of John Harvard, we walked through Harvard Square to the Curious George Store, where we spent the remainder of our time. There, Darwin mostly played with some Legos, but before we left, Margie bought her a Curious George astronaut doll. If asked, Darwin will say, "Daddy and Papa are suckers." We asked, "What about Nana?" Dar replied, "Nana is a teeny-tiny sucker" (illustrating the point by holding her thumb and index finger about half a centimeter apart). Actually, behind the scenes, it's Margie who buys most of the stuff we give to Darwin, using her standing accounts at Zulily and Amazon Prime.

Yesterday, to allow Elissa and Ryan time for other activities, Margie and I took Darwin to lunch at an Arlington restaurant. Elissa gave us a bag containing food for Darwin to eat, since it is often best to get her started on her meal while our own food is being prepared. Dar seemed to have a prodigious appetite at this meal. She started by polishing off a tube of yogurt, followed by a serving of string cheese (after carefully instructing me in the proper way to open each of these items). She then requested a granola bar which we found among the food items in the bag, and instructed me as to how to tear it up into bite size pieces for easy eating.

For a lunch item, the granola bar seemed to us to have an awful lot of chocolate in it. It was full of chocolate chips, and had chocolate drizzled on top. It later turned out that Darwin had smuggled this item out of her mother's purse and into the food bag. Papa and Nana are suckers, indeed. However, finishing off the granola bar didn't stop Darwin from subsequently eating half a bowl of rice which we had ordered along with our own meals. I'm guessing we can expect a growth spurt soon. When Elissa later asked Darwin what she had eaten for lunch, she replied "Rice".

By the way, after I sent the above picture of Darwin to Elissa, she sent me a link to an interesting article about the statue. The article makes three points about the statue and its inscription, which are:

  1. That isn't John Harvard
  2. John Harvard wasn't the founder of Harvard University
  3. The university wasn't founded in 1638

If you want more detail, click here.

And that's not all. While tourists rub John Harvard's foot by day, it seems that Harvard students like to pee on it by night.

Margie and I hope to meet Darwin again in Harvard Square next year. And while we may once again pause in front of the statue alleged to be John Harvard, I won't rub his shiny foot.

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#0249  *FAMILY2

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© 2015 Lawrence J. Krakauer   Click here to send me e-mail.
Originally posted August 31, 2015

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