All of us will be checking our e-mails tomorrow morning with hopes of finding a Valentine’s Day message from Dean Pfister. FM imagines how the dean might celebrate this day with one of his signature messages to the student body.
Dear Harvard College Students,
The first weeks of the new semester have raced by, and with the coming of February heart-shaped items in all the warm colors of the palette are appearing in shop windows. I want to use the opportunity that Valentine’s Day offers to stress the importance of interpersonal relationships. I hope you take the time to acknowledge the surfeit of inspiring people in this community and reflect on the nature of love. Or, more importantly, the love for nature.
I invite you to pay a visit to the Glass Flowers Collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see more than 3,000 models of upwards of 830 plant species—a memento of paternal love created by Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph. As you view the magnificent Echinocereus engelmannii, notice how the blossoming flower erupts from the intricate glass spines—this is a desert cactus. It is a riveting sight.
I and many of your peers are on the lookout for romantic corners on campus these days. I am drawn to the splendor of the river. Take a walk by the Charles with your sweetheart and show them the moss that grows under Weeks Bridge. If you don’t have a sweetheart yet, let the moss foreshadow the coming of spring and the “budding” of new relationships.
As for me, I will be spending Valentine’s Day revisiting Erasmus Darwin’s (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) “The Botanic Garden.” The second part of this wonderful masterpiece is titled “The Loves of The Plants.” It fills one’s heart with love:
BOTANIC MUSE! who in this latter age
Led by your airy hand the Swedish sage,
Bad his keen eye your secret haunts explore
On dewy dell, high wood, and winding shore;
Say on each leaf how tiny Graces dwell;
How laugh the Pleasures in a blossom’s bell;
How insect Loves arise on cobweb wings,
Aim their light shafts, and point their little stings.
If any of you are interested in holding a reading of the poem, send me a message and we can arrange a poetry night next week. Lastly, remember that the flora and fauna of the campus, as well as the Harvard community, love you just the way you are. Tell a tree or a fungus that you love them: They love you back.
Your loving Dean