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Snow, ice and joy

John-Paul Witt | Tuesday, February 6, 2007

This might sound sappy, but I love this weather.

I know. We risk hypothermia every time we go to class, to eat or to work out. I know that every other step, we slip on the ice. And I know that in this sub-zero weather, we can’t even make snowballs. Yet, walking to St. Ed’s from South Dining Hall at 3 a.m., I was mesmerized.

I always try to work late at The Observer, because that time, the predawn hours, is my favorite time of the day. It’s right before the snow plows start their early shifts, when all the walks are white and unsalted. The vista kindles something in my heart, seeing Father Sorin, Jesus and Mary wearing robes of white.

I think because I’m from Miami, Fla. and I never saw snow before my freshman year here, being surrounded by a world of white makes me a child again. I see an untrod field of foot-deep snow, and I can’t help but to walk through it. I like the sound my shoes make as they compress the snow under me, and the lightness of it. How the slightest touch brushes millions of tiny crystals aside. Beautiful, but fragile.

Sometimes I feel that this fragility can affect us – the cold seeps through our many layers, external and internal. For example, for us non-coffee drinkers, it’s difficult to make a commute from the DPAC to say, North Dining Hall, without looking like a Mestrovic sculpture.

But also, winter is the time when people are the loneliest, especially when it’s cold and dark. That once-friend from Frosh-O you passed after dinner could be having a hard time. I know it’s not the Christmas season, but, perhaps a little extra cheer from those capable of it could go a long way towards getting us through these cold and gloomy months.

One thing I do regret about this season is the difficulty inherent in visiting friends across campus. The walk is perilous at best, and the many memories one could create are squandered, victims to air that will freeze the hairspray right out of your head.

Granted, the excuse you used for missing your 8:30 a.m. lecture seems to disappear when there’s a possibility to eat, drink and be merry. No matter how far TC is from Fisher, or how bad the roads are between D-6 and Fever. But, like all things in life, it requires effort! Theodore Roosevelt admired the people who are “in the arena.” Friendship is an arena, but only a few have the fortitude to brave the cold for non-charitable ends (here’s looking at you, Siegfried).

My last world to you jaded Chicagoans and Clevelanders, veterans of many winters, is that I understand you may think I’m too sentimental. But the way you feel about sunny beaches and crashing waves, is how I feel about Notre Dame in the darkest, deepest winter.

God bless us, that we have the chance to be here.