Tag Archives: Walla Walla

Winter is Coming

A curious thing happened yesterday, and it happened again today. On Tuesday, November 19, Walla Walla had a high temperature of 57. It was balmy and rainy, and was almost too warm for the heavier jackets many of us had finally pulled out of the closet after their long rests, donning them in anticipation of the colder months and gradual decline in temperature. I know that I at least was forced to take my jacket off on my morning walk to work, and again as I walked home in the evening.

Then the curious thing happened. The day ended, night set up over a warm Walla Walla, and we all sequestered ourselves in our homes, our apartments, our residence halls and houses. We forgot about the outside, at least for the few hours we were indoors, enjoying the wonders of climate controlled housing. We went to sleep, not thinking too hard about winter or fall or the weather at all. Then, Wednesday, November 20th, Winter, which had been a long time in coming, finally decided to show up. In the space of a day, we went from a high of 57 to a high of 37. Today, Thursday the 21st, we have a high of 34 and a low of 25. Tomorrow, Friday the 22nd, we have a low of 19.

Winter is officially here.

The onset of winter means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For our students from Southern California, where winter temperatures often range in the sixties, this can be a confusing and rather chilly time of year. For students from the east coast and several other midwest states, it’s just a drop in temperature not really worth noticing (side story: I once told a student I was interviewing that it got cold in the winter. When she asked how cold and I told her it would set up around the 30’s and stay there, she laughed at me. She was from northern Minnesota). For all of our students, it means both Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break are just around the corner, respites from the long, hard battle of the Fall Semester.

In the world of admission, winter is exciting on both sides of the desk. For high school students, it means applications are just around the corner (I will admit this might be more nerve-wracking than exciting, but bear with me), with their college admission decisions not far behind. Through the end of November and all of December, the scattered flurries of applications pick up in intensity, escalating into a full on blizzard of submissions to colleges. Essays are edited, letters of recommendation are written, and applications are double, triple, maybe even quadruple checked, all before finally hitting that submit button, or before sealing the envelope, slapping on the postage, and throwing it all in the mailbox before second thoughts can form, lest the envelope be opened and the application worked on even more. It’s a hectic time, a very busy time, and depending on where you are, probably a very cold time.

For us here in the Whitman College Office of Admission, winter means similar things, but it also carries other connotations. To start, it means that the long travel season has come to a close (I apologize for the lack of updates caused by my month on the road). All of us, minus our regional representatives, have found our way back to the office, to home base, where we are now busy both catching up on work and sleep put aside during the month of October, and settling back into our daily routines. It also means, for us, that reading season is just over the horizon. The first of our two Early Decision deadlines just passed, and we’re now sorting through all of the shiny new applications, getting ready to tackle them. In another couple of months, once January hits, we’ll be hunkering down in our offices, bundled up against the cold outside with more applications than you can shake a stick at for company. It’s a hard process, but in many ways it’s also one of the most exciting parts of the job, the next step in the admission cycle as we work towards building the next incoming class, in this instance the class of 2018.

So pull out your winter jackets if you haven’t already, wrap up warm with your favorite scarfs and blankets, and get ready for the winter months. They’ll be cold, of that there’s little doubt, but I can absolutely guarantee they’ll be exciting.

Until next time.


The Changing of the Seasons

Seasons come, seasons go. They shift, they fade. Sometimes they transition slowly, cold winter melting into warm spring with the pace of thawing ice. Spring slowly warms to the kiss of the sun, blooming into the heat of summer. Generally speaking, we get used to these patterns and the transitions they bring, the gradual shifts from one phase of life to the next. We fall into our routines and expectations with an ease so light we never even notice.

Of course, these transitions and fades aren’t always the rule, and every now and then something happens to remind us of this, an event, a happening, which shakes us out of our dreary routines with sudden strength.

This past week in Walla Walla has been one such happening, with the Summer being suddenly and unexpectedly buffeted by an onslaught of sudden Fall. In a way it’s almost poetic – just as the summer months for the students come to a close, drawing a sharp line in the sand between leisure and school work, so too did the weather decide to shift without warning into full on Fall Mode.

The following two images, both of which I have taken from Cliff Mass’s weather blog (seriously go check him out – even if you’re not a huge weather fan, he’s super entertaining), and both of which were originally taken by Kevin Pogue of Whitman’s Geology Department, say it all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you autumn storms in Walla Walla.


Fall has definitely struck, in more ways than one. Cool air, tempestuous skies, and leaves just beginning to turn in the trees overhead. In the Admission Office the doors have been standing open all day to let in the wonderful cool breeze, while we had our own touch of the incredible weather just outside.


The weather, however, isn’t the only way that Fall has begun to set in. On the academic side of things, this week marked the first week of classes for students! For the first time since the end of Spring, lectures were had, discussions were begun, reading was delved into, and students began to think about the long haul of the oncoming school year. It will be many months of wondrous motion, action, study, and fun before things begin to settle down once more. Change is in the air, and whether that change is moving slowly or swiftly, the year is really beginning to move.

Check in next week to get another taste of the Fall (even if the weather warms back up), and get a glance of how the transitions from Summer to Fall begin to affect us all. Until then, may your week be filled with the best sorts of change!

Oh, and as a treat: the first leaves I’ve noticed changing around campus!


There’s More Than One Way to Peel an Onion

Despite how many seasons as there are, and despite the numerous excellent things that happen throughout the year – Move In Day, the first day of classes, interviewing students, graduation – it is very easy for me to say this part of the year is one of my absolute favorites. This might seem like a strange thing to say, at least at first. There isn’t an incredible amount going on in the Office of Admission right now, apart from gearing up for an excellent and exciting travel season in the fall, and apart from the usual hustle and bustle of visiting students and their families flying in and out of the office for interviews and info sessions. This time of year is so simple, so quiet, a period of repose before the year goes flying by with busy, busy wings. So why is this part of the year one of the absolute best?

Simply put, ONIONS.

As many of you may know, Whitman College has the wonderful tradition of sending a box of Walla Walla sweet onions to the newest incoming class of students (if you didn’t know that, now you do). I myself remember the day my very own box of onions appeared on my parent’s doorstep, a surprise I certainly wasn’t expecting, although one with which I was delighted. Just recently, the onions were sent out to the incoming Class of 2017. Regardless of whether or not the new students knew the boxes were coming, arrive they did. Packages were opened. Onions were sighted. Laughter was assuredly had. But over all of this, there was most likely a pervading question to be answered: “What am I supposed to do with a box of onions?”

Thankfully, in answer to this, many students have posted pictures or sent emails, and the answers are out there for all to see. Take a gander at what some of our newest students have decided to do with their very own Walla Walla sweets.

Image Simple but delicious: French onion soup.

ImageA creative, and very delicious looking loaf of onion bread.

ImageDeliciously sweet toppings for a cheeseburger.

ImageA delectable plate of sweet onion rings.

ImageA warm bowl of onion risotto.

ImageSome amazing looking grilled cheese (and onion) sandwiches.

ImageAnd last but definitely not least, a positively mouthwatering onion tart.


So, regardless of whether you’re an incoming student looking for something to do with your box, if you’re an old student whose forgotten what you did with yours, or if you just like the succulent sweetness of a Walla Walla onion, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. The way my mouth is watering right now after looking at all these delicious dishes assures me that I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Travel Season Meets Fall in Walla Walla

I wrote a few weeks ago that travel season had begun, and now it is surely upon us! We at the Office of Admission have now reached a time of year where we’re lucky if half of the officers are in the office. Though it’s a time of much transition for us, it’s also extremely exciting. Katherine Buckley, Tony Cabasco and I recently returned from an exhilarating week in Seattle where we visited 18 high schools and met hundreds of students. I felt like I was on a roll; we moved from parking lot to college office, speaking about Whitman to both individual students but also to groups as large as sixty. The excitement coming from the prospective students we speak with is the contagious part–after all, we love travel season because it means we get to meet many of you!

So, what to do with these interspersed weeks (or in many cases, days) at home? They become much more than time to catch up on emails and phone calls in the office; the purpose they serve goes further than to simply “reboot.” Fall at Whitman is full of campus vigor, both a confirmation of all that we have shared on the road as well as the source of a whole new group of activities and stories that we will put in our pockets for when we head out on the road again. Though I missed the Instant Play Festival, I can’t wait to attend a talk by Isabel Wilkerson, the author of this year’s summer read The Warmth of Other Suns. I smile when I read about President George Bridges’ birthday wishes to first-year Maya Volk (check out the full story by clicking on this link: http://www.whitman.edu/content/news/mayavolk ). While I’ve been gone, flag football games have started in full force and provide some excellent entertainment. These are just a few of the stories that will find their way into the next high schools I visit.

Fall in Walla Walla…

…a mixture of golden leaves, crisp blue sky, bike rides and running on the trails.  As the weather gets darker, I pass the climbing wall lit up at night. I can’t believe we have 110 students in climbing classes this fall plus a waitlist. I climbed the wall for the first time on Sunday. The new facility is amazing(and addictive, I’m heading back tonight.)

Autumn means fresh cider, running through the haunted corn maze with friends and perusing the farmer’s market for squash to bake and pumpkins to carve. It’s apple pie making, the annual harvest hoe down and all the vineyards frantically working crush to bring the harvest in before the first frost. Lacrosse, ultimate and rugby dominate Ankeny field while the Whitman cycling team gets 20 miles in before dark. Ranger and the Rearrangers played at Coffeehouse last week, always a hit for those who love gypsy jazz.

This weekend, the annual haunted hospital in North Hall is back. Friday night is the “Nightmare on Boyer Avenue” dance and some of our students are competing in a cyclocross competition on a farm just outside of town. Oh yeah, and one can’t help but think about the Zombie flash mob in downtown Walla Walla a few weeks ago….Human’s vs. Zombies is very popular on campus, make sure you  carry your Nerf weapons and socks!

Gems in Walla Walla

Unfortunately, as a regional officer, I’m only on campus about five weeks a year. I have my favorite restaurants (Brassiere Four, Clarette’s, the Marcus Whitman Lounge) and scenic drives (Frog Hollow, Lower Waitsburg and Five Mile roads), but a Walla Walla visit isn’t complete without a stop at Klicker’s.

Klicker’s is a family-owned business out Issacs Avenue, about three miles east of campus. Depending on the season it stocks antiques, ice cream, Christmas trees, culinary specialties, and fresh produce (there’s a Klicker Mountain in the Blues where they grow their amazing strawberries). In my most recent visit I picked up a couple bottles of Creamy WallaWalla Onion Dressing and stuffed them in a pair of shoes in my suitcase for the trip back to my Cape Cod home. If I’m lucky enough to be in town in spring the freshly harvested asparagus, at about a dollar a pound, is to die for. And later, cherries, melons, garden vegetables then the July orange mesh bags of Walla Walla Sweet Onions. After Walla Walla produce New England produce produces mild depression.

Running in Walla Walla

Do you get the REI or EMS catalog this time of year? You know the one with the runners clad in fleece vests wearing moisture wicking shirts underneath, lycra tights, a festive ski cap and gloves? They are striding across open terrain with the signature puffs of white streaming out of their mouths as they exhale into the cold winter air. That is what it is like running in Walla Walla during the winter, and a needed breath of fresh air for this transplant from Long Island, NY to Los Angeles, CA.

I love to run, and running in Walla Walla is a treat. It is interesting no matter where I go. The residential areas around campus are perfect for banging out a few miles before or after the work day. I can go from community to community taking in the architecture of homes built as Walla Walla was establishing a place on the map, and those that have been built in more recent years as Walla Walla has become a destination. The roads are not busy, the terrain is relatively flat and I am bound to come across a park or school at some point, no matter how far I am going.

Just beyond the easily manageable streets of Walla Walla lie the more challenging and picturesque “long runs” worthy of an REI cover which I like to set aside for the weekends or when I just need to get away. Approximately a mile north of campus the infamous wheat fields of the Walla Walla Valley begin to unfold. The miles are laid out along gently winding roads and rolling hills through the “amber waves of grain.” The sunrises and sunsets in the open fields are inspiration to go the extra distance. This is the perfect place to lose myself, but not get lost on an “out and back.”

When I am feeling adventurous and ready to push my limits the foothills of the Blue Mountains, rising up east of campus, beckon a distinct call. Bennington Lake and the miles of trails, both paved and dirt, flat and steep, have something to offer me all the time. They allow me to return to nature, observe local species and recognize my small place in the world. I can be surprised by the elements, staying sharp and agile amidst the unsure terrain. I always come home exhausted, but refreshed and feeling accomplished.

Running is one of the things that makes coming to Walla Walla even more fun and I know I have not even come close to seeing it all. I’m always looking for some company, so let me know when you are in town. We can explore new routes together. Happy Trails!