What is it about the weather? If it’s warm, I’m happy. If it’s raining, I’m sad. There is no way around it — I am what the weather is. Too bad New England isn’t known for its charming rays of sunshine.

After a recent trip to Cali, I came to fully understand the fact that, no, not the entire West Coast is like the O.C. Beach houses and chicks in bikinis are not everywhere. There is this thing called “North” Cali (“Norcal” for those in the know). Turns out, it is pretty cold there. I am talking spandex under the jeans. My family and I took a trip along the West Coast but didn’t quite make it to the sandy shores of L.A. We are more of the nature-walking, site-seeing-until-you-drop (literally) kind of a family. Three-mile hikes are just a warm up for us. One mile? Please, we do that in our sleep. For this trip, from the great mountains at Yosemite to Sequoias at Mur Woods, there was no lounging around to be had. After a day of experiencing the slopes (and by experiencing, I mean riding the gondola up the slope) at Lake Tahoe, we headed out on our way to Napa Valley. Predicted forecast: 70 degrees and sunny. S-U-N-N-Y. Lake Tahoe was lovely, but snow and cold can never be better than some good ol’ rays of sun. In under three hours, we drove from 40 degree icy chills to 75 degrees of perfection.

I am not going romanticize and say that with every mile toward the warmth, my heart grew bigger with hope and love. But, once I was a-soakin’ in the rays, I did feel pretty refreshed. For once I did not have to wear spandex under my pants — heck, I didn’t even have to wear pants. It could have been the magic of Napa Valley (nothing like a full day in wine country if you know what I mean), but either way, I felt like a new person. So it is that simple? Sun equals happiness? I got to thinking about Van Gogh — now he was quite well-known for his fickle moods. He moved from Paris, to Arles, to Saint-Remy, to Auvers-sur-Oise, each time claiming that with this new environment will come a change of style and renewed inspiration. His work produced in Arles is specifically noted for its use of color and its use of light. Van Gogh himself said that it was only there in Arles that he could find the inner light of things. He said that it was because a spectacular outer light surrounded him that he could begin a search for an inner one. The concept of revealing light through his paintings soon became an obsession until his death.

While I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that some nice weather makes me obsessed with philosophical meanings of light, I do think it is fair to say that some sunshine is good for the soul. As Old Campus is regularly beginning to look like a massive tailgate, it is hard to resist the fun in the sun. So, I say, why try? From the sensitive soul of an artist to the everyday student, everyone can always use a cheerful environment. There is nothing like something new — a change of pace, if you will — to get that infamous change of heart. Let’s just say everything seems a little brighter.