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Imminent CollapseThe Inherent Coolness of Snow

By Bill Andrews
CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR

A famous song begins with the lyrics, “You called me last night, on the telephone, and I was glad to hear from you cuz I was so alone, you said ‘It’s snowing it’s snowing, God I hate this weather!’ Now I would walk through blizzards just to get us back together.” All of us on campus finally got the chance to do just this recently (the blizzard part, not the together part; hopefully that happens tonight).

Snow is one of those divisive, hot-button issues about which everyone feels strongly. Like roller coasters, math, and “They Might Be Giants”, it seems you either love snow or you can’t stand it. The haters are out to convert the rest of us, too; these poor souls, born in the frigid climates of the Midwest or perhaps exotic and far away Canada, have dealt with snow all their lives, and are sick of it. Why, just a few years ago, I can remember reading in The Tech (perhaps on this very page) a column extolling the virtues of snow-hating. It was called, cutely, “Abominable Snow, Man” (if you’re curious, see http://www-tech.mit.edu/V121/N66/02col66philb.66c.html) in case anyone else is as old as I, and might remember. The thrust of the author’s argument was that snow sucks because nothing good comes of it, and on top of that it causes a great deal of trouble.

My fianc e is from Wisconsin, so I am always reliving this column with her. “Well of course you like snow, Bill, you’re from the tropics.” (Fun fact: Andrews is actually a traditional Puerto Rican name.) “You’ve never had to shovel a driveway, or drive a car through snow, or wait for a school bus waist deep in snow.”

That’s all true, of course. I’ve never had to suffer those particular burdens, but I’ve suffered others. As any southerner or tropics-dweller can tell you, learning how to dress in the winter is quite the trial by fire (so to speak). Freshman year I almost froze to death one night because I didn’t think a scarf was important, and I quickly learned to carry gloves around with me everywhere. As my chiropractor can tell you, too many times, I’ve forgotten and brazenly stepped onto a sidewalk without carefully scanning it for ice.

Despite all that, I still like snow: in fact, I still love it. It’s so surreal to walk around and all of the sudden see little bits of almost-ice falling down, so strange after it builds up and gives everything a little (or not so little) confectioner’s dusting. It’s like nothing else, as are snow men and snowballs and snow angels and all that jazz. And remember, I’ve been @MIT.edu for fifteen years (well, it feels that way), so it’s not just novelty at work here, it’s a comfortable old love.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the topic of our most recent blizzard. For days we’d been warned of this terrible blizzard attacking New England like Godzilla on a bad hair day, and even though it didn’t quite live up to all the meteorological hype, it was impressive nonetheless. You know it has to be serious when all the lights in the Green building go dark the night before. When I woke up Sunday, it was already pouring — or, I guess, dumping — and didn’t relent for hours and hours. Boston was cut off from us, invisible across the river, the roads were emptied, (Sunday) schools canceled. All in all, it was a pretty dramatic display of nature’s power over us, of our helplessness to stop even the most basic of precipitation phenomena, and all kinds of other deep thoughts phrased skillfully.

But still! I loved, all that snow to play in! I even got my snow-hating fianc e to join in, and we threw snowballs at each other and made angels and everything. Not only was it all romantic and crap (which is always nice this time of year), but it got her to like snow again, even if just for a moment. So if there’s hope for a lifelong snow-hater like her, my friends: on this bright Valentine’s Day, could you perhaps give snow a second chance, too?