A few days ago, I awoke to a crisp Medford fall morning and heard a rumble from the corner of my dorm room; there’s nothing quite like the annual activation of the heating system to bombard you with thoughts of the upcoming winter. As a native Floridian with only one New England winter under my belt, the anticipation of the coming season is daunting. Even with a closet shoved full of sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves and boots, I know that the changing seasons will inevitably bring a lack of sunshine, more time spent indoors and bone-chilling walks up and down the hill. Although we didn’t have to spend this Halloween with snowfall, as we did last semester, impending below-freezing days loom in our near future.
Before I came to Tufts I understood the concept of seasons, but I’d never really lived them. The lowest the temperature drops in my hometown of Boca Raton, Fla. is around 60 degrees, and the warmest layer I ever needed to sport was a single sweatshirt. While many northeasterners I’ve met express envy of the sun-filled perpetual summer setting I spent my childhood in, the truth is that without seasonal variation, I lacked appreciation for beautiful days.
Throughout my upbringing, I never had to think about layering. Not only did I take this luxury for granted, but I complained about putting on my uniform polo and skirt every day for school. I spent many sunny days voluntarily sequestered indoors, and I made trips to the beach with paucity.
Conversely, this past spring, following my first winter in Massachusetts, I savored each mildly warm day. I’d spend hours simultaneously sunbathing and studying with friends on the residential quad as soon as my weather app said the temperature was above 55 degrees. Moreover, every blooming tulip bulb I passed during a walk across campus filled me with a childlike excitement that quickly erased any memory of frozen fingertips. I would stop and marvel at the unfolding petals and the glimmering beads of water on the grass with a degree of delineation that I’d never before experienced.
As we approach the coming seasonal shift, I urge everyone to enter it with appreciation rather than dread. On the coldest January mornings and the earliest dark afternoons in December, remind yourself that without struggle, one does not realize when they are experiencing bliss.
When we seek out the beautiful aspects of winter like sledding with friends, walking to procure hot chocolate and watching holiday movies under a blanket, even the more mundane things, like walking into the warm Tisch library after making a journey across campus or sporting your favorite fuzzy socks under your boots, can elicit feelings of happiness, no matter the environmental circumstances. So, next time you find yourself dreading hitting the floor on a brisk morning, or wondering if you should hop onto a hybrid class virtually out of fear of the elements, think of just how much brighter the spring will be when you’ve experienced the essence of winter.