TELUSHKIN: A harsh, charming gift

This morning, I stepped out from the Pierson Master’s Office and gasped. I watched, enchanted, from under the overhang as snow drifted gently towards the earth. There was something magical about the snowflakes — big, white, fluffy. They were perfect. They fell so gently and so softly in a flurry I can describe only as angelic. The snow was a surprise visitor, a reason to delight — a reminder that the world is an incubator of endless beauty. I stood rooted to my spot. The Pierson courtyard looked as if it had been ambushed by millions of winter fairies, playing a graceful game of tag. I almost heard their laughter.

Then I looked down at my phone and remembered I had section in 20 minutes and realized I was freezing. Snow is beautiful, but it has never been man’s best friend. Snow is cold, inconvenient, slippery and in the words of many of my friends today, “horrible.” Especially when it comes to preserving our standards of dress and appearance, snow can prove to be a worthy enemy. And as much as I wanted to only love it, I also knew I had to run home and change.

The first thing I did was finally collect my winter coat, which had been at Jay’s Cleaners since August. I then gingerly began making my way over to Dwight, where I live, looking out for puddles and trying not to skid. Hands jammed in my pockets, balancing my coat over my arm with glasses sliding down my nose, I looked anything but angelic. Snow doesn’t do much for human elegance and grace. The girl next to me on the street muttering — “need different coat, need different boots” — probably agreed.

Snow’s antagonism became all the more apparent once I was home, with minutes to winterize my clothes. Quickly, I flung off the black jersey sweater-coat I’ve been wearing everywhere for the past few weeks (with its oversized black hood it is an ideal outer garment to throw over messy hair and shadow rings under your eyes), and pulled off my maroon leather biker boots, with heels so worn they’re trip-prone even in the best of weather. I found a pair of jeans and a sweater. From under my bed I retrieved the durable snow boots I bought last year after the Halloween snowstorm. (Of course, it never snowed again that entire year.) Ribbed with rubber and lined with furry cotton, they made my feet feel like moving rabbits. Finally, I took my long puffy winter coat from its plastic and snapped it closed. I had broken the zipper years ago. And just like that, within a frantic five minutes, the beautiful snow had stripped me of any outer beauty.

I recognize, of course, that all is not lost for those who strive to meet the snow on its own terms. We need not lose our public identity to huge parkas and heavy winter shoes. Anyone who has spent time in Russia knows that the women, with their hot pink coats and stiletto boots, do not let winter turn their fashion into solely practical necessities. Bright colors and dramatic shapes, with the help of makeup, jewelry, hats, gloves and scarves, do wonders to keep a winter look popping. Yet we are entering a season where the universe is constantly attacking us, between the cold and the sky, and we would do well to temper our optimism with a little concession to reality.

When it comes to snow, we seem to be divided between the lovers and the haters. I am torn. On the one hand, I find the lovers a little smug. Whenever I complain about the weather, they smile and say, “Oh, I love the snow,” leaving me to feel like some overworked Yalie too busy stressing out to enjoy a soul-rejuvenating romp in the flurries. On the other hand, when the haters complain to me, I now think back to that enchanted moment this morning when I first glimpsed the magic and dreamily respond, “Oh, I love the snow.”

This winter will probably bring much snow, and with it, many opportunities to delight and to complain. Let’s try to embrace both sides of winter’s harshest and most charming gift.

Shira Telushkin is a junior in Pierson College. Contact her at shira.telushkin@yale.edu .

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