Ah, winter. My favorite season. It’s freezing cold and wet and dark. We get a faithful weekly cycle of snow that turns from powder to slush to mud and then frozen into black ice again. I live in constant fear of slipping and falling and have accepted my fate that multiple pairs of pants will, indeed, rip on the way down. Gravel and salt make incursions into our heavy winter boots and cozy dorm rooms. The hot water situation has never been worse and leaving a building with wet hair is the beginning of pneumonia or, at the very least, hair icicles. Unlucky car owners spend an unreasonable amount of time digging out their vehicles from snowdrifts. I wear so many layers of clothing that leaving a classroom becomes an ordeal similar to how I imagine astronauts suit up to enter the vacuum of space. Not infrequently, I’ve compared my MWF trek between the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center and the Black Visual Arts Center to climbing Mount Everest.
Despite trials and tribulations, Dartmouth students still know how to rally during winter term. There are a few obscenely positive people who manage to find the bright side in the darkness of a 4 p.m. sunset. I’m not one of those people, but here’s what I’d say if I were:
1. You can eat an obscene amount of food during the winter. Seriously, no one will question you if you down four Lou’s pancakes and then order hash browns to go (I’m not speaking from experience). It’s winter — you need the sustenance. Personally, I don’t think you need an excuse to consume an ungodly amount of food at any time of the year. During winter, apparently, other people agree with me. Mazel tov.
2. You get bragging rights. When you return to your hometown and inevitably run into annoying Brad from 11th grade chem, you can finally prove that he’s not as cool as he thinks he is. You’ve braved -17-degree weather, so take that, Brad. Yeah, so what, you go to Yale? That’s a solid four degrees warmer. (Brad. Ugh.)
3. There is no need to refrigerate anything. In fact, I’ve carried sushi around in my backpack all day and, come evening, it’s just as fresh as it was when I first took it out of the Novack Café fridge. Delicious. I am of the firm belief that you could walk around the Green with a Collis smoothie, and by the time you’d have made a lap, the smoothie would be more frozen than when you started. Plus, your water bottle is always cold. That is an underappreciated fact. What, you’re one of those people who drinks lukewarm water? Don’t even look at me.
4. You have a great excuse to fall down while walking. This one might just be for me. I have a tendency to smack into things. Like my bedpost, my door, my desk, my desk chair — really anything in my general vicinity. My ominous number of bruises have no real cause except my extraordinary lack of spatial awareness. At the very least, the number of times I’ve fallen this term (four, if you were wondering, and once in the middle of a crosswalk) provides a reasonable excuse.
5. You can wear the same clothes for a week straight and no one will notice. During winter, I recognize the mass of coats and hats and scarves as a person only by the color of their backpack. In my head, everyone wears the same thing every day during winter, the way God intended. Feel free to look like a hermit as long as you’re in Hanover. Full-on sweatsuit is definitely an aesthetic. Is it a desirable one? Come ask me to my face. You’re not dressing for comfort — you’re dressing for survival.
6. The snow is a reasonable explanation for why you’re late. Late to class? It is definitely not because of the King Arthur Flour drink in your hand. Nope, it was the snow. I’m not going to say that I’m chronically late: I’m just going to say that people may or may not have tried to stage an intervention for me at some point. It’s not a total fabrication, you know. I’d probably leave my room faster if I didn’t have to mentally prepare myself to be frozen. I’m not late to dinner because I wanted to finish that one episode. Don’t you know it’s a blizzard out there?
7. When the sun does come out, it’s a sensation akin to a professor letting class out early.ww Euphoria might be a strong word, but I would argue that it does not do justice to the feeling of seeing the sun for the first time in months. Finally, I can stop worrying that I’ll die of some weird 14th-century disease pirates got from living below deck. One time, the temperature got just over freezing and I swear I saw at least 10 people wearing short sleeves. I guess when you’re living in a walk-in freezer, your standards dip a bit. We’re keeping the bar real low here, folks.
8. The real blessing of winter is not the veritable winter wonderland that appears or the fun winter sports that I don’t take part in. NO. The real blessing is the emergence of kids who walk around in shorts and a t-shirt. The. Whole. Time. I’m told by people that other colleges also have one kid who spends the entire winter proving their superiority over the elements (the ultimate live action man vs. nature literary trope our 9th grade English teachers would salivate over). Here at Dartmouth, we have not simply one voice crying out in the wilderness, but MULTIPLE brave souls. The three or four C.O.A.T.— Coldest of All Time — kids are truly the best part of my winters here. I just have a few questions for them:
a. Are you sure you’re not cold? You look cold.
b. Do you have winter clothes sitting in your room right now, or did you come to school with the awareness that you were a straight savage?
c. Does this mean that you walk around, I don’t know, just flat-out birthday suit when it gets any warmer than freezing?
d. What does your grandmother say to you?
e. Because there are so many of you, have you started a Groupme?
f. Follow up, can I please be added to it?
g. This one is not a question — I just want to talk to you.
The term is almost over, but fear not kids, we are looking forward to a term with slightly more hours of daylight. Spring: a time when we do the same things we do in winter, but don’t have the excuse of cold and snow. During Week Eight of spring term, the snow will finally melt, for real this time, and campus will turn into one big mudslide, allergies abound. Classes will be spent gazing longingly out the window at the outdoors we only now want to venture out. Oh Dartmouth, I can’t wait to be back here in two weeks when it’s technically spring but just as cold!