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WRITERS BLOCK: Fighting that New England mid-winter slump

Published: February 4, 2005
Section: Opinions


Its just about that time of year. If youre from the New England area, you know what Im talking about. Its the mid-winter slump. Its the mysterious mental breaking point found somewhere between the end of January and early February. The precise time any particular individual will personally experience symptoms of this syndrome will vary, depending on their level of hardiness. But it will seep in eventually. Characteristics of the ailment?

Extreme irritation at the inability to walk barefoot across your own bedroom floor without gathering up gritty salt and sand residue on the bottoms of your feet. Routinely fighting pangs of hunger and settling on Easy Mac or microwave dinners because its just too damn cold and snowy to make the trek to the dining hall for real food. Being fed up with the time it takes to layer on shirts and sweaters and hats and scarves and boots and gloves, only to shed them all in the seventy five degree heat of the lecture hall. Getting downright sick and tired of the color white everywhere. White snow. Colorless sky. Pale skin, having long since lost its summer bronze.

Despite valiant attempts to convince myself that its really not so bad, such as keeping my room at an unnecessarily balmy seventy-two degrees, I still find myself in the grips of this midwinter slump. When it gets really bad, I call up my parents and yell Why do we live here? in frustration. We could easily live in any other state. I hear Californias nice. But it wouldnt even have to be such an obvious choice. Id take Maryland, or even New York. Forty degrees is looking like Cab San Lucas to me right about now. But the fact of the matter is, were all here. Some of you may be lucky enough to get to return to your normally climatized home states for February break, but for those of us who are going to have to save our t-shirts and flip flops until late March, Ive scoured my mind for some topnotch reasons why I love the winter in New England. Lets see if I can convince you.

1) With the Superbowl coming up on Sunday, (sorry Eagles fans, but theres no doubt about this one) I have to put football at the top of my list. Sure, I can appreciate a good football game in the fall, with the crisp air and clean, green field. But theres something hardcore about watching a great NFL game thats played in the snow and freezing cold. The fans are out there in the stands with woolen hats and painted faces, standing up the whole time just to keep the circulation going. As the players hunch over at the line of scrimmage, puffs of icy breath emerging from inside their helmets, they look like some species of primitive animal, ready for battle. Remember the AFC divisional semifinals game against the Raiders in 2002? The Snow Game? Yeah, thats it. Its the ultimate sporting experience–raw, teeth-clenching intensity. Only in New England.

2) Ok, this one isnt quite as exciting, but worthwhile nonetheless. I love the quiet that sets in when it is snowing. Theres that muffled, very peaceful feeling you get when you go outside as the flakes are falling. Everything is silent for once, even your footsteps beneath you. Like you could hear forever, but at the same time, theres nothing to hear. Its a feeling you cant really get anywhere else, and I like that.

3) No matter now inconvenient the winter may be, there is always the joy of the Snow Day. I used to think snow days were just for kids. Apparently, now that were in college, theyre just as exciting as ever! When we got notice of a snow day a few weeks ago, the shouts of joy could be heard up and down the halls. It was like semester finals had been waived, or Bushs victory in the elections reclaimed. A snow day is so much better than any old Saturday or Sunday. A snow day is a free pass. Its all about that unique sensation of being really cold and unbearably hot, all at the same time, when you trudge home from sledding. Its about mugs of hot chocolate and pajamas and snuggling up under the covers. The snow outside is still falling, and no ones yet ruined it with footprints or sand or dirt. Its perfect.

4) Now, all you guys out there might not appreciate this one, but Ill give it a shot anyway. Ugg boots. You know this quandary has crossed your mind. If youre male, you may have wondered why nearly every single girl at school is all of a sudden wearing these odd-looking, fuzzy things on their feet that resemble boots, but are clearly unlike any boots youve ever seen before. Some varieties look like theyd sooner belong on the Muppet Show than out in public. But Im going to clear things up. A bit unattractive, yes. But Uggs are warm and come in a variety of styles and colors, and we girls just love them. So the winter slush is the perfect excuse for us to wear them, Guilty Pleasure # 362, right there after The O.C.

5) All right, Im clearly running out of ammunition by now, based on the lameness of the point made above. But lets try this one: feelings of accomplishment and vindication when we finally do emerge from the depths of winter and reach springs promised land. It may sound pointless, but I appreciate the mildness of April and May, the heat of July and August, so much more after having suffered the frost of December. Something about it makes you want to scream Ha! Beat that, Winter! If nothing else, living in the Boston area and surviving the winter months earns its inhabitants some major bragging rights. It takes real character and fortitude. So lets take a little pride in our pains. Come out on the other end alive, maybe just a little bit bitter and frostbitten, and youve won the struggle. You can go and tell them back home, Hey Buddy, I live in Boston. Beat that.