“I woke up this morning eyes half closed/I looked into the mirror and said ‘damn, I’m cold” – Lil’ Wayne, “Damn I’m Cold,” by Bun B
If it seems like it’s gotten colder lately, it has. Not literally, of course. In fact, if anything, it’s marginally warmer than it has been. But the temperature has worn us down to the point where we no longer have the will to dress lighter just because it’s ten or twenty. We pile on the clothes because they have become a second skin that has, like some insidious parasite, bound itself to our winter identities. We’ve reached that point in the winter where our approach towards it switches from one of tolerance to one of survival.
At least that’s how it feels for me, child of the South as I slowly settle into the twin depressions of winter and the Carleton term. I know winter is supposed to beautiful and all that; I’m in favor of snowy landscapes and frozen ponds in the abstract. I understand that my life, as it is conducted in brief and moderately unpleasant adventures into the cold between steaming buildings, is not technically teetering on the brink of survival. I know that Carleton is supposed to be academically rigorous. However, I’ve reached my breaking point. Literally.
On Monday, during my beginning ice skating class, the blade of my skate dramatically snapped off, leaving me to limp dejectedly off of the ice with my one-boot, one-skate combo. And thus, winter broke me. Good luck convincing me to go sledding. I may yet, but let me be clear that it will be an act of defiance. Any snowman I build or snow angels I form will be monuments to hatred and antagonism, symbols of the ugliness of winter rather than of its beauty. And if we have a snowball fight, you can take comfort in knowing that it’s not you that I’m pelting, but rather it’s the abstract conception of winter and the desperation it awakens in our souls.
Fortunately, there is a ray of hope coming soon in the form of one of America’s most hallowed institutions. I’m going all out in optimism for that seminal early February event that brings Americans of all sorts to their television sets. I’m betting on one of Pennsylvania’s greatest legacies, one that has made history before and will likely do it again.
On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, will pronounce, in what was surely the most cynical holiday ever conceived, whether or not spring will come early. As this has happened at an alleged rate of 13% since ol’ Double P started his pronouncements, things are not looking good for those of us hoping to start barbecuing before March. Grimmer still, in a cruel twist of fate, times of economic recession seem particularly prone to long winters. The years 1929-1933, 1981-82, 1991-92, and 2001 all were determined to be years with six more weeks of winter. But who’s worried, right?
There’s been talk that the pressures on Barack Obama in his first hundred days in office will be immense. Well, so far he’s already pushed his stimulus package through the House and signed into law a bill that guarantees equal pay for women. Conventional wisdom says that the times ahead will be tough for businesses and consumers, but Citigroup just bought a new corporate jet and J. Crew’s having an online sale this week, so things aren’t looking so bad there either. Supposedly Carleton will have to delay work on the Arts Union, but James Hannaway has already invalidated the need for improv here, so it shouldn’t be much of a loss. Hardly a single shadow looms anywhere, so what would cause our dear groundhog friend to see his?
You heard it here first. On Monday, winter will end for Carleton College. Sure, we may still have two papers and a test ahead of us in the week that follows. We may still be chronically sleep-deprived and susceptible to making terrible nutritional decisions. We may still all feel a little bit lonely and sad. But the Bald Spot is going to be covered in grass and we are going to be throwing Frisbees everywhere. The smell of hamburger (or veggie burger) will waft from every grill. It will be like Spring Concert and Rottblatt rolled into one. We will all be going absolutely bonkers.
This is, of course, because of that early February event I mentioned earlier, the Super Bowl. The Steelers are going to win. And I’m going to be ecstatic. I still fully expect Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow and condemn us to six more weeks and then some of winter. It will be depressing. It will be cold. It will seem to last forever. But for once it will be worse in Arizona than it is here.