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Putting the wonder back in winter

| Friday, February 3, 2023

“There’s no snakes. There’s no alligators. There’s no hurricanes.” I repeat this strange string of sentences to myself daily, typically while trudging through the snow to get to class during winter. I say it every time I question my choice of college, since I could’ve gone somewhere warmer than the Midwest. Typically I conjure up images of the GIANT snakes you see in documentaries from places like Australia, or my friends’ snapchats about having to do math homework in hurricane protection shelters since they couldn’t leave their campuses in time for the incoming inclement weather.

I’m not unused to the winter weather Michiana brings, since I’m a born and raised Michigander. Lake effect snow and wind chills were terms I understood in kindergarten, as they decided whether I got to go outside for recess during the winter. I’ll never forget the time in middle school when my public district had to cancel classes for a week, because the diesel fueled school buses’ antifreeze didn’t withstand the -40 degree weather we sustained for two straight days, and the diesel became a jelly-like substance inside of the fuel lines in every single one of them. I was ecstatic, to say the least, and took an entire day to build a ten foot tall snowman instead of doing homework.

But now? Now I complain about having to put on a coat to walk 50 feet to the dining hall. I cringe at walking outside for more than two minutes to get to class. Somewhere between kindergarten me who loved being queen of the ice castle and watching weather patterns on the weather channel, middle school me who built giant snowmen, and now, the wonder of winter faded. Now I look outside and see the hassle. I don’t see the beauty. I think snowball fights are a waste of time. Building a snowman is fun in theory, but don’t ask me to get my gloves soaked making one. Maybe it’s just part of growing up. Maybe it was realizing that someday, I’m going to be going out and snow blowing my driveway like the strong, independent young woman I am. Or maybe it’s because wool is tragically expensive so I can’t knit warm winter scarves often anymore.

Regardless of what caused this lack of wonder, it saddens me. I used to love the winter, and all that it brings. Hopefully I’ll be able to relearn that joy, and take the time to spin in the middle of the fluffy flakes coming down. We’re in the part of the season that’s the prettiest, before the gray stuff February always brings.

Maybe that’s something we all need though. In the busyness of the new semester, maybe we do need to take the time to bundle up, step outside and flop on our backs to make a snow angel. As students, we’re really good about taking advantage of our breaks by sleeping every moment we can, or being “bored” and scrolling social media. But when was the last time you stepped outside to build a snow fort? I can’t remember the last time I did, and I doubt there are many of you that can either. So, as much as I am challenging myself to remember the wonder of winter this season, I challenge you too. Take a moment. Look at the snow. Think of at least one complimentary thought about the snow, beyond the general “it’s really white” or “it’s pretty”. And just maybe, we’ll be able to relearn the wonder of winter together slowly.

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

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