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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Changing seasons: will you be ready?

Published: April 25, 2014
Section: Opinions

Winter is over and spring is here; is everyone happy? It’s the end of what most people would consider the harshest season to weather while living in New England, and presumably it’ll be nothing but sunny days, leafy trees, nice breezes and tiny flowers. And for much of the time, it’ll be exactly that.

But if you’re from California or Greece or China and haven’t lived here for almost two decades, you ought to know a few things before you throw your winter clothes into an incinerator and modify your wardrobe to consist of nothing but short pants and flip-flops. The weather here, as you may have already gathered, is mercurial and sometimes feels as though it’ll just up and change seasons from one day to the next.

For example, one should anticipate a lot more rain in the next two or so months. Massachusetts, as you’ve probably seen in December, tends to experience a lot of precipitation in the winter in the form of snow and sometimes hail. In the spring and summer, there are occasional bouts of torrential downpour that will utterly destroy someone should they be standing in the middle of an open space without any immediate shelter. Lately I’ve seen people walking around in drizzles wearing unzipped hoodies without even putting their hoods up. If you’re doing this, beware of the spontaneous downpour and your imminent demise. Otherwise, bring an umbrella. Thin, waterproof coats are better for the summer when the rain itself is actually warm.

Another thing one should know about is that along with extremely cold winters, springs and summers in Massachusetts can actually be viciously hot as well. While it’s still somewhat cool, one ought to consider procuring a fan for future use, or at least prepare to keep windows open at all times in the next few weeks. I say this because very soon, we’re all going to start sweating a great deal, and letting all that waft about in a small, enclosed space like a dorm will be supremely unpleasant.

One might notice how it’s been extremely cold this past winter, but in the summer it’s the norm for the season to undergo heat waves that literally make it dangerous to stand outside. There are days when the sun is so unbearably strong that simply going out without proper preparation will put you at the risk of getting heat stroke and passing out. I can recall news reports describing how some people just up and died from constant exposure to the sun a year or two back. If you’re the sort of person who likes to walk around without shoes, make sure to do it on a reasonably cool day, or else you’re going to get second-degree burns from the asphalt. Sunscreen is also recommended for those somewhat fatally sunny days.

And while we’re on the subject of feet, there’s another thing one should be wary of in the next few months. There will be mosquitoes, and they will feed on you. While the bees have more or less disappeared over the past 10 years, the mosquito population is maintaining a strong population. If you’re from somewhere colder, you ought to expect random bumps to sprout up on your ankles and neck. Those are the preferred places mosquitoes will bite you, and that’s where you’ll probably be applying the most mosquito ointment—or whatever you have. I personally recommend tea tree oil.

The weather here at Brandeis is about to do an about-face and basically be the opposite of what we’ve all gotten used to in the past few months. Snow and bitter cold will be replaced by rain and smothering heat. It’ll be extremely uncomfortable here and there, but it’ll be incredibly beautiful too, sometimes. In the midst of all the vacillating rain, heat, sweat and bugs, there will be those leafy trees, nice breezes and tiny flowers all decorating the scenery, while a plethora of fresh smells will reemerge after lying dormant for two seasons. The sky also turns pink sometimes, but that and the rest of the pretty things that’ll be found alongside all the inconveniences characteristic of the spring and summer belong in a different article. Just don’t get drenched or sunburned.