Bundling Up, Buckling Down
Brrrr! What happened to the warm breeze? What happened to dinner on Proctor Terrace? Where did all the leaves go? (No, literally… I know they fell off the trees but… where did they actually end up?) We had an outstanding Fall of weather here at Middlebury, but it looks like winter’s chill has arrived. Judging by the size of the bags it’s packed, I’d say it’s here to stay.
People always ask me on tours and in information sessions if the cold bothers me. I reply, “Of course it bothers me! It’s the cold!” Then I make some remark about how it doesn’t do much more than deter me from going to the gym, and the group laughs.
The cold is sown into the fabric of our identity as college students in Vermont. A few nights ago, a couple friends and I went for a midnight swim off campus. We linked arms, said a prayer, and plunged into the frigid water. It washed over us like the first cleanse after a camping trip. That’s what the cold does to you here at Middlebury. It washes over you, it dries your knuckles, it makes you long for your LL Bean moccasins, Vermont Flannel, and down comforter. It promotes snuggling.
But it also promotes hard work. The coldest months are the months we are working the hardest (J term excluded for obvious reasons). Anyone remember Spring 2012? On March 21st it was 82 degrees- a full-blown Dunmore Day. I don’t recall the temperature dipping below 65 again until well after graduation. My GPA that semester warns me that the warmth can sometimes be distracting!
The cold winter months remind me that the focus of our college is primarily to grow our minds intellectually. It is to learn inside the classroom, to work hard, and to apply ourselves. Easy to do when 4:30 pm rolls around and it’s pitch black outside with whipping winds and a bitter frost. Not so easy when Battel Beach is abuzz with sunbathers and Frisbee tossers. I look at the winter months as a time to rid myself of distraction, to curl up in a cozy corner of the lib with a good book and read it. Really read it. Put down the phone, no fear of missing out, just a kid and his homework.
Winters at Midd are good for more than just skiing and snowshoeing. They provide more than merely an appreciation for warmer days.
When it’s time to bundle up, it’s time to buckle down.
PS The water was so cold. So, so cold.