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A summer blessing

Carter Boyd | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness,” was well put by John Steinbeck in “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.” The winter has definitely made known its presence to all inhabitants of Notre Dame. Walking past the lakes, we all saw the half-frozen waters with the geese and ducks, as our winged friends tried to figure out the lay of the land. They moved about, making do with the changes in nature. They seemed to have some since of peace and tranquility, with trust that this will all pass and the waters will be full and fresh again.
We have all made adjustments for the harsh, cold winter we have experienced. I, as a freshman Domer from the south, had a winter unlike any other. Different, yes; good, yes; tiring, yes; frustrating, yes; and fun, of course, yes.
Yet, it has been really cold, so why does Steinbeck insist that the cold of winter gives summer its sweetness?
Well, maybe he was referring more to the no-pain, no-gain attitude. Or maybe if you do not know the dark you cannot appreciate the light. So, if the trees were green all the time, how would we be able to recognize their beauty in the warmth of summer? Seeing the barren trees, the snow covered limbs, lets us realize that we are all a work in progress. We all need cultivating, we need time to grow and we need time to heal. The winter does just that, as it gives us time to take a different look at our lives and maybe see ourselves in a way we have not seen before. The sweetness of the winter helps give us that burst of energy we need to put a spring into our steps and embrace the warmth of summer.
Oh yes, the summertime has definitely always been a welcomed time of the year for me. I, though, think I will approach it much more differently this year. Reflecting on Steinbeck’s quote has given me a fresh outlook on my upcoming summer adventures. I will try not to take the time for granted and really try to feel the true warmth of the summer, the summer of God’s warmth and love.
I know that many of us have many opportunities this summer to spend the summer of God’s warmth. The students of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross have amazing opportunities to travel, volunteer, conduct research, participate in camps, internships and the list goes on and on. The options are endless and sometimes it is hard to choose what to do. I guess these are good problems to have, though. Just like my freshman year, with all the varied and challenging experiences, I am thankful to have the amazing opportunity to be at Notre Dame.
As I look back over my incredible freshman year, I can understand what Steinbeck meant.  I think he is really asking how can we appreciate the warmth and love of life if we do not respect how blessed we are to have it? As we all travel in life, it is important to not take our situations for granted. Just maybe we need to check out the ducks on the lake, see how the flowers are blooming near the dome or notice if the trees are greening. And while you are at it, look at your neighbor, see how he or she is doing and encourage them to share the sweetness of winter and the warmth of the summer.
As the semester ends, I pray that all of us will experience the warmth of the summer and the blessings of God. I look forward to experiencing the next few cold winters and warming summers with the Notre Dame family in the years to come. Our God loves us all.

Carter Boyd is a freshman studying science-business. He can be reached at
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.