It’s that time of year in South Bend where campus freezes over and the permacloud chronically deprives us of sunlight. It’s all about perspective, really, because when the snow on the ground is still white, my morning coffee tastes just bitter enough, and my Spotify shuffles to the right track by The Velvet Underground and I’d waken up on time to put on four or more layers of clothes, I can almost romanticize the cold. Sometimes, at night, when it’s dark, I can even tell myself that South Quad is actually Narnia. But the truth is, most of the time, any 15-minute walk can seem like the last trek of your life when the wind is blowing in your face at infinite miles per hour and you’ve forgotten what your fingers are meant to feel like.
My first winter in the Midwest was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Its foreign shock permeated my mood, my motivation and my social battery. One night, I vividly dreamt of looking up at the sky and seeing the sun. It took weeks for me to meekly adapt to the weather, and I don’t know if it will ever get better. What I do know is that this time around, I’m prioritizing my efforts to minimize the season’s effects on my disposition.
On the flight back to school, I read a copy of “The Little Prince” that I had found on sale at a used bookstore. Settling into my seat with a glass of complimentary wine and a children’s book got me a few glances from my neighbor, but I hoped that my Notre Dame sweatshirt would portray me as an academic nonetheless. Revisiting old favorites is a bizarre feeling. Most of these books are written by adults and the lessons they hope to convey, while they flew over my head in kindergarten, now offer a warm solace.
“What makes the desert beautiful,” the little prince says in the book, “is that it hides a well somewhere.”
The seasonal blues are real, but there are perks to be found and coping traditions to be established. What I also found is that any story told in retrospect, whether it’s the time a friend slipped on the stairs of LaFun or when you walked back from formal with your heels sinking into the snow with every step, gains something of a flair when the setting is South Bend winter. If optimism fails, maybe the hilarity of our Snap memories could be the well in our desert.
Cramping together in a tiny futon with the heater blasting, the kettle turned on for the pending cups of hot chocolate. Waking up to the tree by your window dressed in a gorgeous, fluffy white. Gearing up in pink gloves and a massive checkered scarf to class. The most fervent piece of advice I would give to any first-year encountering this kind of winter for the first time would be to find moments in your day to engage and revitalize. And to layer.
“If you come at four in the afternoon, I’ll begin to be happy by three. But if you come at just any time, I’ll never know when I should prepare my heart — there must be rites.”
Our four seasons are a force of nature, quite literally the way the Earth shows us the passing of time as she sheds her leaves and offers us flowers. If succumbing to the beauty of Mother Nature still isn’t enough to come to peace with Notre Dame’s extraordinary winter, let the Fox in “The Little Prince” remind us that there indeed must be rites. Just like night and day complement each other in necessity.
Personally, my favorite season is summer — but how stunning the Golden Dome can be when it gleams through a layer of fresh snow. The appeal of blue skies and lazy tanning afternoons is that it is all fleeting. Just like the fox awaits his four o’clock, there’s always summer coming back around. I’ll be keeping that sensation in the pocket of my puffer jacket to reach into this winter.
Reyna Lim is a sophomore double majoring in finance and English. She enjoys writing about her unsolicited opinions, assessing celebrity homes in Architectural Digest videos and collecting lip gloss. Reach out with coffee bean recommendations and ‘80s playlists at email@example.com.