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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The polar vortex put in perspective

<urth week for students on campus, and the steady escalation of academic workload is rivaled only by the parallel and seemingly vengeful intensification of winter as temperatures plummet past contemporary Antarctic standards. As students and staff prepare fortifications against the impending freeze, so, too, is the Arboretum.

As you ponder the potential impossibility of a walk to the Weitz this week, remember that, at this very moment, chickadees are busy foraging for frozen, forgotten food and fluffing their feathers in tree hollow havens.

The trees themselves are employing their best defenses as well; deciduous trees are sacrificially freezing vascular tissues to protect cells from ice damage and conifers continue busily photosynthesizing despite the cold.

While wool-swaddled students dart between heated buildings carrying precious hot cocoa cargo, ground squirrels are slowing their heartbeats to a few beats per minute in cozy dens below the frozen ground.

Frogs are losing heartbeats altogether as their little bodies freeze solid and they enter a state of cold-blooded hibernation known as brumation. Turtles, too, enter deep brumation and either burrow in mud to await the spring or else drift listlessly in ponds beneath the ice, metabolizing slowly, eating little, digesting less and breathing through their butts.

The bite of 50 below on exposed skin may feel nothing short of inhospitable to those of us accustomed to thermostat, and even for the flora and fauna in the Arb winter poses a significant threat.

But spring has never yet not come, and when it does it revives us all, down to the last little ice cube toad.
So on this cold, cold fourth week, do your best to stay warm, stay safe and send thoughts of hearty camaraderie to our persevering neighbors doing daily battle with.

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