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Heading south is for the birds

Molly Acker | Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Come winter, the weather in South Bend is less than desirable. Temperatures are low enough to make most people try their luck with a plane ticket to Siberia, and it seems as if we are left with the feeling that we live inside a snow globe. Though many students may have come to Indiana without knowing what “lake effect” snow means, you can now say you’ve lived through it. When somebody back home asks you about the weather in South Bend, you can explain how excited you get on January mornings when enough snow has been cleared that you can actually see the sidewalk on your way to class.

The nuances of a winter in the Midwest are never-ending: You have to set aside at least five extra minutes every morning to scrape the snow and ice off your car, and the defroster never works as well as you think it should. You can expect to get sick at least once during the course of a winter at school. Living in the dorms means there is really no avoiding this, so make sure to have some Kleenex, NyQuil and Robitussin handy. You also have to worry about the inevitable instances in which you slip and fall on an icy surface. I’ve already experienced enough of these falls to know that even a simple trip to the dining hall can occasionally turn into a scene out of the Stations of the Cross. (I’ve also come to realize that high heels and black ice are not a great combination.)

At home, we have a sign that says, “One of the surest ways to shorten winter is to sign a note for 90 days.” To be quite honest, I have never really understood what it means. Maybe it suggests that we migrate south for the winter and write nice letters home to our family and friends about the great weather and how we are glad to be out of the snow belt.

Sadly, signing a note for 90 days would probably cause our grade point averages to drop lower than last night’s wind-chill factor. Since we will all have to struggle through the snow until spring, here are a few ideas to help us think warm and weather the winter in South Bend.

First of all, under no circumstances should you look at the weather reports. As they say,”Ignorance is bliss.” I guarantee the forecasts won’t be great, so it’s better not to know what lies ahead.

Play some summer songs. My personal favorite is Frank Sinatra’s “The Summer Wind,” but anything by Jimmy Buffett or The Beach Boys will also make it seem five degrees warmer.

Put umbrellas in all of your drinks, whether it be a strawberry daiquiri or a just a glass of water.

Throw a summer-themed party. Tell your friends to wear their favorite Hawaiian garb, turn up the heat and fill up a family-sized inflatable baby pool for anyone brave enough to take a dip.

Go swimming. You may get some strange looks if you bring rafts, inner tubes, or water wings to the lap pool, but if it beats the winter blues, then why not?

Go buy a swimsuit. It may be a good idea to consider hitting the tanning bed before this. Those fluorescent lights are never flattering.

Watch movies where people perspire a lot. Whether it be “Long Hot Summer,” Elvis’s “Blue Hawaii” or even a Sylvester Stallone flick like “Rambo: First Blood, Part II” or “Rocky III,” all the sweat is sure to make you feel warm.

Go to a Mexican restaurant. The atmosphere always reminds you of summer, and even in February it’s tough to deny a good frozen margarita.

Watch golf on television. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but when some golfers experience a particularly tense moment in the heat of the tournament, you will feel like you are right there and in on the action at the warm location.

Start making spring break plans, preferably to someplace warmer than here – think beaches and bathing suits.

Take the tunnels so you don’t have to go outside. Oh wait – they took those away from us.

If you really want, you can keep you parents happy by staying warm and studying in the library (However, this is a drastic measure that should only be taken when absolutely necessary).

Those are just a few suggestions for beating the winter blues. Although we can all be a little disappointed in the groundhog for being scared of his own shadow yesterday, don’t forget to appreciate how pretty our campus looks when it is covered with a nice blanket of white snow. And remember: we may complain about how frigid it is now, but I guarantee that when we come back next August, we will all be complaining about the heat and humidity.

Molly Acker is a junior communications and humanistic studies double major at Saint Mary’s. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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