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Boston Weather: 51.0°F | A Few Clouds

COLUMN

Winter Weather Wonder

Roy Esaki

So ... umm ... what about this weather? Well, for one, it’s made this small-talk topic, usually reserved to allay only the most awkward silences, timely and legitimate. For another, waiting with bated breath for the Institute to shut down, anxiously cheering and moaning like faithful Celtics fans as the snowfall waned and crescendoed, it gave us something to do amidst the humdrum routine of the school week. It can be a bit of a nuisance, but for most of us who don’t have cars, don’t have to shovel snow, and who can walk through heated corridors to most classes, these snow-filled days can be happy ones, as they remind us of the small joys and great comforts we have around us.

After trudging through the same well-worn path, seeing the same predictable sights day after day, it’s a wonderful relief to see every aspect of the environment changed. Granted, there are now inches of slush in the streets that salt-stain your shoes, but finding creative ways to cross the water hazards and snow bunkers can be an Indiana Jonesesque adventure in itself. You can look across Killian Court or the soccer field and see an amazingly unadulterated, uniform blanket of white purity. The pristine landscape is perhaps accented with a pair of footprints leading to a perpetually happy snowman, a friendly reminder of the simple joys in trivial tasks that we had back when we were more creative and whimsical children.

Liberally sprinkled across the formerly barren trees and stained rooftops is white confectionery sugar, making it seem like you’re walking across the top of a fancy decorative cake. When it’s not too windy, if you look straight up at the snowflakes meandering their way down (especially at night, when the snowflakes are gently illuminated by the mellow glow of the streetlights) it’s almost as if you’re in a perfectly manicured snow-globe. When the crystal ball isn’t being violently shaken up, the world can be quite serene, as things gently find their proper place in the world once again.

Entering the Infinite Corridor after a brisk morning walk, or returning to one’s room after an enervating day, we can be reminded of how comfortable life is for us, of how escape from the relentless untamable elements is never more than a few minutes and a door away. Looking out of the window of a warm room, out at the bitter winter cold, we can allow ourselves to forget the nitty-gritty problems of school and life, and feel a simple comfort at that fact that, at that moment, we’re inside a room, and not outside.

Speaking of which, we should also take a moment to recognize, and deeply appreciate, the countless policemen, grounds servicepersons, and other support members of the MIT community, who do remain outside. From before dusk to well past dawn, they work assiduously to make sure the Institute can function despite the inclement weather. Endlessly plowing and shoveling snow or directing traffic, there’s no permanent monument to their efforts; within a few hours, the slush is back on the ground, and the appreciation is faster to disappear than the freshly cleared path.

Truth be told, perhaps many of us think that they’re just doing their job. But that doesn’t absolve us from really appreciating them; they’re doing their jobs, exceedingly well, the jobs that makes our daily lives possible. Just how many injuries from slips and falls they have prevented, how many thousands of man-hours they have saved by clearing the roads, or how many lives each of them tangibly benefited, is easily lost upon us as we wordlessly dash past them. Granted, there isn’t much we can do, but an occasional thank-you or at least a smile, and a humble, honest gratitude for their sacrifices, would certainly be in order. With a warmed heart and a positive perspective, the snowy winter need not be a cold, dismal season.