Disturbing the Peace

By Will Pikus

The Fairhaven pond is a small island of nature is enclosed by red brick and is easily spotted in the middle of the Fairhaven community. Not Fairhaven the town that is located in the northern part of Washington state, but the small area south of Western Washington University’s campus which is home to the Fairhaven College and twelve stacks that room students from the school. The pond itself is about twenty feet by ten feet. But that’s not including the plethora of vegetation surrounding it. I am not a botanist so I couldn’t tell you the scientific names of each plant but I can tell you that they are rich and green with color and thriving.

There is an average sized wooden bench on one side of the pond. The bench could sit three people comfortably but four if someone is in desperate need of a seat. As I went to sit on the bench I could hear the crunching of the gravel underneath my feet. But that’s not the first thing that I noticed. Upon approaching the bench I could smell the faint stench of a cigarette hanging in the air. After further investigation I found a small rusty tin can underneath the bench that contained roughly 8–10 cigarette butts among other pieces of trash. One of the cigarettes in the can happened to still be partially lit. Which means someone must have just been there. But soon after I was distracted by the flashes of orange underneath the surface of the water. Goldfish. The pond is a tranquil place and is great for studying, socializing, reading or enjoying whatever makes you happy. The area is unfortunately not big enough to be inviting to play sports in but it is perfect to find peace and relaxation. The Fairhaven community is generally very quiet which makes the pond a perfect place to study or read a book out in the open air.

Purpose?

Fairhaven pond, originally created to be a beautiful little outdoor location for students to study, read, be alone, talk, get together and socialize. Today these uses are still carried out on the regular but there is an additional use that was never intended for this place, and that is smoking. Now, the pond seems to be “only for smokers”. Majority of students in Fairhaven that smoke use the bench as a place to carry out this habit.

After interviewing a number of non-smoking students, majority answered that they tend to stray away from the pond because they do not enjoy the smell and second hand smoke of a cigarette. Unfortunately for the nonsmoking population, it has made the bench at the pond less appealing. If someone is smoking at the pond no one else wants to use it, but the problem is that there is almost someone always smoking in the area around the pond and so all of the traditional uses the pond was meant for are now being neglected.

Perspective

I should probably confess that I used to smoke cigarettes not too long ago but after some consideration to my health and future I decided to quit. Although smoking is not healthy and usually frowned upon in our society, I now have the perspective of a smoker and non-smoker and can help inform the public from both sides of the situation. As a former smoker I used to always go to the pond for a quick cigarette. It couldn’t be a better place. Quiet, isolated, and beautiful. Being able to sit down on a comfortable bench and take in the scenery. So I understand why the smoking population choose the pond as their place to smoke.

Out of all the places that are local to Fairhaven, the pond is the most convenient and most enjoyable place to smoke. The bench and the tin can make it convenient to sit down and then afterward throw away the butt of your cigarette rather than litter. But while you’re smoking you are able to soak up the beauty of the pond. From the glimmer of the orange scales on the goldfish to the sound of the wind in the trees. These are some of the reasons why the nicotine addicted population of Fairhaven choose to carry out their ritual at the pond. As a smoker I loved the pond and its beauty but now, as a non-smoker I am actually a little grossed out by the stench of a cigarette and the damage that it does to a person’s body. So I tend not to visit it as much as I used to. Unfortunately the non-smoking population enjoys the beauty of the pond and its serenity just as much as the smokers. But they now choose not to use it because of them.

A Place for Contemplation

The reason people enjoy the pond so much is because it is the closest thing the Fairhaven Community has to a scenic and peaceful place. The pond can be compared to any aesthetically pleasing or calming place. Think of a place where you might go to find serenity, peace, calm, a place that allows you to hear your own thoughts and contemplate. This is what the pond provides. Although your answer might physically be a different place, whether its the beach or on the top of a mountain, all of these places still provide the same purpose and function.

Imagine if your place of peace was a lake behind your house. A beautiful scenic spot to watch the world turn. Waking up in the morning to watch the fog roll over the lake, to hear the birds and insects go on about their lives. To hear the occasional splash of a fish as it breaks the surface of the water, always turning your head toward the origin of the sound with the hope you might just get a short glimpse of the fish but always being too late. But then all of a sudden a loud obnoxious group of kids decide this will be there new spot to play. Suddenly you lose all the minuscule details about your favorite spot that made you happy. You no longer can hear the sounds of nature over the screaming and shouting of the children as they chase each other. This is the feeling residents from Fairhaven on Western Washington University’s campus feel. Their favorite spot of peace and calm is now gone due to the undesirable habit of smoking. You cannot blame the smokers for taking deciding to smoke at the pond, just like you cant blame the kids for playing at the lake. But now this place of peace is no longer yours.