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A hole in the permacloud

| Monday, February 20, 2017

Although Punxsutawney Phil said otherwise, this past weekend and week of 50+ degrees has me wondering where winter has actually gone. If someone was to tell me that in coming to Notre Dame, where everyone tells winter horror stories of the bleak temperatures, chilling winds and months of nothing but ice and snow, there would be days in February where I could wear shorts and flip flops, I would probably laugh at them. Yet as my sophomore year approaches the final months, “winter” weeks like this have become an expectation.

Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky, but these relatively mild winters have been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy part of the year. As wonderful as Notre Dame is, the one thing that people always complain about is the weather, particularly in winter. The gray permacloud that stretches from December to March, accompanied by wind and snow, is a much-discussed negative aspect of living in South Bend, but at least for me, in the past two years here there have been plenty of bright spots.

For one, the snowfall has not been massive, rather coming in bits and pieces. Coming from Long Island, consistently throughout high school I would be slammed with storms of 2 feet of snowfall or more, and snow would stay on the ground largely untouched for a month or so at a time. Here, however, I don’t think we’ve gotten a snow storm in the past two years that has dropped over 2 feet yet, and usually the snow doesn’t last long. Now there still has been snow, and when it has fallen, like during last semester’s finals week, it certainly hasn’t been ideal to walk through. In fact, that Friday was particularly nasty, and as I walked to my 8 a.m. exam through the snow and biting wind I was definitely not been overjoyed to witness such a display of Mother Nature.

But then there are days like Sunday, which breaks the 65-degree record for Feb. 19 set in 1930. Just walking outside this morning I was blown away, and for good reason. On a day when in almost every year the temperature is below freezing and everyone is in jackets, instead the sun is shining, tons of people are outside lounging on the quads and the many visitors and alumni for Junior Parents Weekend are probably wondering where is the bad weather that they always hear about and in some cases have experienced themselves.

It may be ridiculous, and it certainly won’t last. But in the end, wonderful weather that is unexpected brightens everyone’s day, literally and figuratively. Everyone seems more upbeat, and people are spending time together outside just enjoying the weather and each other’s company. Some of my best memories at Notre Dame so far have been on beautiful days in January and February, not only because of the weather but also because of the unexpected nature of it. I’ve gone on impromptu trips and set aside the studies for a few hours just to be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some of college life’s finer moments.

Maybe it’s good luck, maybe it’s global warming. Regardless, these gorgeous days in the season without football really make me appreciate attending a place like Notre Dame, where there’s always something to be thankful for.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

Toby is a junior PLS/Economics double major from Smithtown, New York.

Contact Tobias