The headline says it all.
We’re already three weeks into spring, the season of new beginnings, new life, a cleanse of sorts, a celebration of life, warmth, and happiness … and yet it’s still cold? Not only cold, but snowing?! In April?!? I know there was recently some conversation in the Swat Facebook sphere about whether Swat is considered to be in the northern U.S., but regardless of how north we are or aren’t, it seems cruel to still be worried about snow storms and the inevitable power outages that would come along with them at Swat in April.
As I write this article, there does appear to be some 70-degree days in the future, a beacon of hope that is very much needed at this point in the semester. However, they’re still crowded by 50-degree highs that would’ve been bearable in March, but when it’s almost mid-April they look a little less cute.
A professor recently told me that the weather is purposefully bad in order to remind us that the semester isn’t over and that we need to stay inspired and motivated, and while I wouldn’t put it past administration to single-handedly alter the weather of the entire country to promote Swat students’ suffering, I don’t think we can necessarily shove the blame there. Rather, I have in fact discovered that finding motivation when it takes almost all of you to get out of bed, and going outside is asking quite a bit. While it is true that some sunlight might force the Swatties outside, the added motivation of wanting to be able to enjoy the good weather would, if anything, push people to get their work done and not be so sluggish.
There’s a brightness, a freedom, that seems to come from nice weather that I didn’t notice prior to coming to Swat. In actuality, before I came to Swat, I didn’t pay any attention to the weather whatsoever. I was considering Middlebury and U Chicago, for God’s sake! Clearly I didn’t love myself. I scoffed at considering schools even within my own state, Virginia, such as UVA or William & Mary, as I attempted to escape the “South” and all that came with it.
What I foolishly didn’t consider at the time though, and what the Snapchat stories of friends from back home remind me of on the daily, is that I would be escaping the good weather that comes about with the location. (Virginia’s placement in the South is almost, if not more so, contentious than Pennsylvania’s in the North, so I won’t get into that.)
I think I was able to rationalize the cold weather in November and December, and then after being able to camp out in my house for a month during winter break, again tolerate January and February. But around March it started to weigh on me more and more, even though at least up until March 20, I still had the excuse that “it technically isn’t Spring yet!” Now that it is in fact spring, now that it is in fact April, now that it is in fact mid-April, I have no sympathy for the weather whatsoever.
I’m finally properly coming to terms with how much the weather actually plays into my mental health and general well-being at Swarthmore. The Wellness Committee can institute as many cocoon chairs as they want (side note: is the fact that the cocoons still haven’t come some sort of metaphor for the delay of spring?), but sadly, they can’t create artificial warmth to warm the campus and actually help students’ well-being.
Much of the reason I largely ignored weather’s influence on my life prior to coming to Swat was the fact that I could escape it back at home. I was definitely a self-described hermit in high school: I would go to school, go home, wash, rinse, repeat. I didn’t need to walk outside to scrounge for food, I wasn’t social enough to care about going out to see friends, and if — God forbid — I did need to leave the house, I had my car to take me to where I needed to go, with parking spots that ensured I would be outside for the least amount of time as possible.
Now that I am here and have to leave the warmth and security of my dorm to get all three meals everyday, the weather has started weighing on me. I remember vividly the two days in March that were above 70 degrees and the way that the campus transformed overnight. The usually scary empty paths were cluttered with students basking in the glory of the sun. Impromptu volleyball games formed all over Parrish Beach, and for once it felt as though there were a sizeable sporty population that wasn’t frisbee players.
That feeling I got in March during the short warmth looks like it will hopefully be permanent soon. The bell tower is back, and with it comes a wave of optimism that spring might finally be coming along with it. With good weather around the corner and a resounding reminder of its impending return every 15 minutes, it seems as though the lull of the cold weather might finally be over, and new, creative ways to complain that don’t include the weather are surely already being drafted.