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Thank you, sun?

| Monday, February 24, 2020

The last few weeks have bestowed upon us some of the strangest winter weather I’ve seen in a long time. A hearty northerner, I’m used to snow piles everywhere, deep and drifting, until at least March, and sometimes (often) April. We instead seem to be fluctuating between 40 degree weather one day, to 20 degrees and seemingly aggressive, yet gentle, snow and days that are bitterly cold but full of brilliant sunshine. Someone told me this winter was predicted to be a polar coaster, as opposed to the polar vortex, and I think they were dead right.

With the changes in weather, my emotions have been similarly in flux. Be forewarned, my next statement is at face value odd, but I think it will resonate when you hear me out. I’m pretty sure I’m a plant. Sometimes a sunflower, or maybe a birch tree depending on the day, but regardless, I photosynthesize. Not in a weird, human-plant hybrid kind of way (though I did read a strange book in elementary school about just that — “Top Secret” for those curious), but more like, give me a little food, sun and water and I’m content and happy. More than once I’ve almost collided with someone walking to class on a beaming day because I subconsciously closed my eyes and turned my face up to the sun, trying to take in what I can of the rays. Benches anywhere with a little sun-dappling are my favorite place to do work, weather permitting. It follows then that the typical South Bend winter, with its continual permacloud, leaves me a little gray and wilted.

The last few weeks have been a balm to my tired soul — sun-filled mornings and similarly bright days, colorful sunsets reminding me that this place is actually kind of beautiful when lit up and full of life (cue images of the glinting dome). But at what cost? My body clock is all off. What time of year is it really? It’s only February. This warmth and sun isn’t supposed to come for a month at least, so my perception that spring’s around the corner is probably false. The snapping back and forth between glorious and grey has me reeling, and I don’t know what to make of it. It can’t be good for the earth to be in such a state of spasm and identity crisis. But at the same time, it might be one of the things that will actually get me through this winter. Surely I shouldn’t revel in signs of the demise of our environment.

At the end of all of my ramblings, I don’t know how to feel. I fancy myself a bit of an eco-warrior and I try to be in tune to the way the world lives and breathes around me. And so I fluctuate, hopefully not as wildly as the weather, between abject horror at the state of the environment and our dear mother nature and extraordinary bliss under the warmth of the sun. Should I be more concerned? Less? The one thing I can’t deny is my plant-like nature and inclination to enjoy the sun for all its worth despite all its complicated implications — polar coaster be damned.

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

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