Storytime with Sten: The melancholy of winter, the pressure of summer

Spring semester is in full swing with full, chilly wind gusts and the promise of snow. The Dean's Office sent out its annual notice to students to prepare them for the harsh winter weather. (Junbo Huang/The Daily Campus)

I don’t want to graduate, but I wish it were May, because spring leads to summer. The snow drives the approaching reality of summer away, yet somehow brings the warmer season closer to my thoughts. I periodically think of summer as the happy time, because the weather is more pleasant. On the whole, it is a happier time than what we have now, and have had for months, for example.

Summers are conducive to storytelling. It is easier to think in the summer; you needn’t concern yourself with how to drive in the snow, or shoveling your car out and in the nighttime the air is quiet, rather than aggressive; the laughs come easier in the summer because we aren’t worried about how we’re going to walk through that damned snow, and our cabin fever is lessened; you don’t have to sit in a room and drink, you can go to a beach and do so; and in the summer you can build gratuitous fires instead of sheltering blazes. But the best part is the driving, my reprieve from work when I leave, from trying to make others happy, my vehicle of mood, I go where I want and how fast I want, and the music plays loud, and somehow, somehow, I still haven’t broken the speakers.

But when I was younger the winter was my favorite. It was my birthday and it was New Year’s and it was snowmen and snowball fights and snow angels. Those games fall out of fashion as one grows older. As students grow older, they take trips to Miami and other, more temperate places for Spring Break in order to escape feet of snow and, of course, the lingering responsibilities of their education and its expectations. The summer lives, but only as long as the work of the fall and winter is finished and done well.

The summer is a transitory period that demands your attention because it will be gone soon. For students it could mean freedom, or it could mean twice as much to do, with a job and classes and internship to attend to. For professionals it’s just like any other day, only hotter.

With what was hopefully winter’s last gasp behind us, I think back to when I first saw the snow stand still and unperturbed on the far-flung grounds of UConn, evenly plowed and in the habit of turning into tunnels. The streetlights shone brighter with the backdrop of the icy snow, and random flakes flew past my nose as I walked alone across the bridge near Mirror Lake. The snow! This once inconsequential day, merely colder than those delightful six weeks before UConn turns into a cage match between you and the wind, became a day where strings of violins glided over the covered ground, pushed by the East Wind, all the while laughing at the people who dared to walk through its cold. It told of times past and celebrated times present, and for ten minutes, winter was cool.

Since high school ended, summer has not been necessarily relaxing. But when it comes to its superiority over the winter, you will concur, of course, with the agreeable sensation of driving a car alone in the heat, but it is not hot because the windows are rolled down and you are driving 50 miles per hour. You will agree that summer seems like a reset. That could be because nothing lasts in the summer, or because summer is simply a holdover.

Nonetheless, and especially senior year, summer is a new beginning, whether we graduates like it or not. It’s daunting, but we made it through winter at UConn, so we are invincible.


Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at sten.spinella@uconn.edu.