I grew up just north of Chicago, so I am no stranger to harsh winters. Coming to Connecticut has actually been a pretty easy transition. The winter is still long, but in New Haven we miss that one week of subzero weather that brings all life to a halt back home.
We all know the people from California who grumble about the snow and proclaim the West Coast’s meteorological superiority. It is so common as to be a cliché. It has become almost a performance, wherein the whining Californian serves as a foil to remind ourselves of our own climate resilience.
But if you talk to people from the truly cold parts of the nation, the kids from Minnesota, upper Maine, my own proud city upon the frozen Lake Michigan, you will not hear whining. Instead, there is almost a yearning. “This is nothing like back home,” they will proudly say. And yet they do not sound like they are happy to be away from home. Not at all. In fact, they wish that those brutal winters had followed them here.
It might seem odd to say, but I am beginning to realize that I miss that freezing week, that I miss Chicago winters. The powerful slap of the wind coming off the lake, which knocks all sense or reason from your mind. Not leaving the house once for an entire weekend and keeping a fire roaring in the fireplace the whole time. The precautions needed if, like me, you are stupid enough to go for a run in that weather. The hands inside gloves, the skull cap under the beanie under the hood. I miss all of it. Somehow, I feel like a year without all that is never quite complete.
The reason I think I miss my home’s winters so much is because they provided a purpose. The extremity of a brutal winter makes the mere act of going through a day feel like a triumph. The walk from the bus stop to school is un-ironically harrowing. It gives a narrative arc to one’s life and brings the community together.
What is more, spring becomes a miracle. The gradual thawing of snow, the appearance of small leaves on the trees, the chatter of the birds returning, all seem utterly impossible. In the midst of the cold, it is hard to see how it could ever end. And yet it does. The whole world springs back to life with incredible vitality.
I love that winter has such tremendous power. The anticipation of it, or relief from it, colors every season, heightening the flavor of each one. The falling leaves in autumn are more ominous and the brutal heat of summer more scorching. It is a cyclical drama, playing itself out unendingly before our eyes.
We get some of this in New Haven, but not so consistently or intensely as in other parts of the country. My freshman year we barely even had a winter; we did not even have a single day below 10 degrees. I was disoriented and out of sorts for the entire year afterward. Spring only makes sense to me in the context of the winter that preceded it.
So I think that we should reconsider our knee-jerk reaction to New Haven winters. As a season, it might not have the immediate appeal of a fall or a spring, but without it these other, more celebrated, seasons would lose their significance. When the days start to shorten and the temperatures drop, why moan and groan? We should look forward to winter with eager anticipation. Life is mostly a question of attitude. The Midwesterners will tell you that if you embrace winter instead of begrudging it, it will have much more to offer than you initially thought.
So while everyone from California waddles around in their puffy jackets and grumbles about the chill, I hope you will forgive me for taking the opposite view. I wish that it were colder, and I hope that you do too.
Isa Qasim is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College. His column runs on alternate Thursdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.