The William Rainey Harper Memorial Library is a place of special significance for me. The first-floor lecture halls are where I attended many classes discussing Galileo, Harvey, and Hobbes, behind the desks of that great library I held a work-study job for many years, and its reading room is where I returned to pen my dissertation. I would climb its ramparts to meet with my college advisor. I met my wife for our first date outside one of the smaller lecture halls. You get the point. Harper looms large.
The main entrance to the building is flanked by two studious and utterly nameless figures, suspended in stone high above the ground. There are countless gargoyles and grotesques within the facades of The City Gray, but these figures are unique.
It's a curious thing, you can pass by something daily for long stretches of your life without noticing them, but if you happen to visit after a long absence, or you walk by when the lighting is different you can't see anything but. So it was with these two scholars in the stone. The few students passing through the entrance must have thought I was quite strange holding my camera and tripod high above my head, trying over and over to frame these figures hung out of reach, but the results speak for themselves and besides, what would campus on a Saturday morning be without an alum acting strangely?
Yet, I don't think I would have fixated on these figures if it weren't for the snowfall. There's something about the way the powder collected on their heads—inclement weather must be of no concern when there is thinking to be done. They are eternal, guardians of the library too distracted with their studies to notice who passes by or whether those passersby notice them or even if the moss has grown thick or if the snow has covered their tonsures. May we all find something so engaging in life.