University Hidden In The Woods

If you find yourself driving North on Juanita Drive NE (in Kemore, WA), and you come across NE 145th street on your left, you may find yourself looking down a road completely surrounded by nature. When you turn onto the road, you’ll notice a modest Bastyr University sign on your left, but for a minute or two you may wonder where the university could be hiding because as you drive further down the road you find yourself surrounded by woods and here and there you can see trails winding through the forest. If you’re lucky, you might even see a glimpse of friendly runner or bicyclist making their way through the bends of the woods. The road begins to curve to the left and you find yourself wondering if you took a wrong turn and ended up on some scenic drive, which is neither pleasant nor quite unpleasant. Then the road splits and if you go straight, you will find a few more modest signs indicating that you are on the correct road to the university. As you drive into the Bastyr parking lot, once the last tree no longer blocks your vision, you can see a regal building standing seemingly all by itself in the nest of a clearing, made just for this place. You may have seen other places like this one, but have they ever been so well hidden as this one?
If you park and disembark the adventure vessel on wheels that brought you forth to this magical yet mysterious location, you may find that when you begin to walk around there is a gentleness about the place. If you by chance get to see other people out and about, you might notice that they always smile at you and make you feel welcome. When you walk through the majestic main entrance to the school, you are walking through colossal pillars. Who built these? You might wonder. And why? Perhaps they are the pillars of success that universities tend to boast of, perhaps they are the pillars of greatness attributed to the founders, perhaps they are just the right amount of architectural beauty that this place deserves. If you walk into the inviting courtyard just past the pillars, you will find a large open grassy area, perfect for picnics on sunny days, with a gentle rock fountain in the center. But it gets better. Continue through the outdoor walkways on either the left or the right and find yourself in another secret and serene courtyard. In the center lies a small pond and if they are not already out sun-bathing then sit patiently and quietly beside the pond to get a glimpse of what some Bastyrians like to call the Bastyr mascots (though there is no official mascot); a group of three quiet, curious, and incredibly cute turtles. But don’t spend all your time with the turtles as they don’t like to be disturbed too much and there is so much more to see!
If you find yourself wandering about the Bastyr grounds, you might venture around to the back of the school and if you come from the parking lot and go past the Bastyr Greenhouse, you will suddenly find yourself in a garden so lush and diverse, it feels like one of those fancy gardens you only see in England on gardening TV shows. As you walk through the mulched garden pathways, you may find that you could wander here all day. The path never takes you to a specific location, it simply curves around the groupings and homes of plants like the winding hills of a hobbit village. As you wander, at times you may feel as if you are being swallowed whole by wild jungle plants, in other places you can look over very small plants as if you are a giant in their tiny green world. If you spend an extended amount of time with this garden you will begin to identify and recognize our plant friends all around you, just as I have, and you begin to realize the network of generosity that exists in this place; through the people and through the plants. As you find a bench to rest your weary traveler’s feet, you might just for a moment forget that you are on a university campus; like a young Alice getting lost in wonderland, have you too fallen into a fantasy world?
Thank you for joining me on this short tour of my favorite parts of Bastyr University.
Peace, love, and plants from Bastyr Alum,
Shianne Paynter
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