posted 2011-02-23 13:00:45

Chilly Groundhog Hunts a Hunter Spring

Chilly Groundhog Hunts a Hunter Spring

Kimberly Milner

Staff Writer

Earlier this month, as a groundhog from Punxsutawney, PA, emerged from its burrow, the sky was cloudy, and consequentially the furry rat-like thing did not see its shadow. As some clumsy men donning black top hats modeled the groundhog for its photo shoot and cheered on an approaching spring, the activist inside me quickly found the charade insultingly ridiculous — suddenly everyone is willing to take a rodent’s prophecy of weather as gospel while we’re still arguing about whether gas ignition adds to global warming? I could’ve gone on being indignant, but the morning was cold, and as I lay swaddled in blanket on blanket in bed I found myself cheering from under covers.

Without a doubt this past winter has been brutal to New York City. After using Google to self-diagnose myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder, I was sure that the world suffered with me. Indeed, the hint of spring tickling some warmer mornings recently has reminded me of what a punch this despondent weather had packed. First off, the fruit guys all disappeared. The streets were desolate, and as the snow piled up, people tripped on ice, babies shivered uncontrollably on their way to day care, professors were bitter and gave darker grades, the pigeons cried ice cubes…the point is it was cold. People were colder. The days were short and people were covered from head to toe and rushed to be indoors. But as insane as it sounds, how much warmer was it indoors? My dorm room was sufficiently insulated, the heat roared, but there I was, huddled in my covers, streaming reruns of Hey Arnold! and the melodrama of Bollywood on the internet, scarred by the winter.

As the barometer in our city of temperature extremes swings from foot-long icicles to melting popsicles, we easily forget the misery of the cold when spring rays come about. On the contrary, during winter it is the thought of summer heat, and downing Sunny D in a sweaty game of basketball that helps keep us warm. Moreover, we’re seemingly different people in polar-opposite seasons.

I’m writing this article because with the curtain (hopefully) jaggedly closing on winter it might be in our best interest as students not to forget the hulk-like strength (and other jewels of character) we found to deal with the snow — like skimping on money, for instance. It’s funny how those blasts of northern weather made our wallets more sensitive to leaving our pockets. But though we were less willing to buy the pricier entrée on the menu, we found other ways of exchanging with friends — indeed, we were happier to see them. Think of your love affair with your goldfish, which blossoms in cold weather as staying indoors allows us to nurture and feed our forgetful buddies. Thus, goldfish don’t die of neglect in winter. Homeless people do, which brings me to another gem of nippy personality: we pretend to care about people in frigid climate. I’d also place a good bet that most wars and insults are waged when necks and heads steam in sultry weather, when remembering that we had professed kinship under a veil of ice seems awfully remote.

The silver lining of winter to us students, however, is remembering our deficiencies. No one reaches his or her potential in winter. Can you imagine what graduation rates would be if the school year ended with hailstorms as opposed to the bloom of spring? Against the metallic bite of the cold, grades slip; if they don’t, at least the meaning of school does. Things settle into ruts as callous winds and cold-driven jumps out of windows ruin hairstyles. But without the winter trauma, summer heat just wouldn’t mean as much. Those pangs of ambition to do and solve everything (or at least party unencumbered) wouldn’t stir. As the icy grind marches on, however, me and groundhog Phil wait potato-couched for spring to give a holler. Regardless of the truth in studies showing Phil to be a dismal meteorologist, or news hosts beaming success, my game plan hasn’t changed: to hold every second of the forthcoming blistering heat tighter than Sarah Palin to her Wasilla crown.