Last Saturday morning, a quiet blanket settled over Clark. A significant number of people had fled from campus to Boston, New York, wherever they call home, to see friends and family for fall break. I stayed on campus nestled in the emptiness that grew as more people left. The halls adopted an eerie silence; the bathrooms were ALWAYS free; dinner became as calm as breakfast.
I saw fall break as time for uninterrupted study, but upon its arrival, that dream shriveled up and died: I ended up spending it drawing, leisure-reading, and not working. I feel a bit guilty about how unproductive I was, but I also appreciated the change of pace. Now I am barreling towards my midterm exams, happening in 2 weeks, apparently later than everyone else’s. I am anxious about them, but excited to get them out of the way.
Looking out my window, the once green expanse has become littered with brown leaves. The trees are progressively becoming red, orange, and yellow, losing their leaves overnight. It fascinates me to see them changing color because this is the first time in many years I have been able to observe the fall transition from summer to winter.
In South Africa, I remember trees turning purple as the jacaranda flowers bloomed, and it did get cold during the winter months, but it didn’t snow in the city. It was always warm on Christmas, and cool at the end of the school year. Christmas specials on television portrayed children in snow pants, clunky boots, mittens, and scarves. I wanted to celebrate Christmas in the snow.
In Romania, I got the pleasure of a white Christmas–in fact, it was a blizzard Christmas. Wind howled, and my young imagination pictured elephants trumpeting through the compound. Snow banks formed, and my brother and I got to wear six layers of clothing, clunky boots, and snow pants on Christmas day. Since Romania, however, I haven’t had a snowy winter as my family moved back to South Africa, and then on to Senegal.
Senegal has two seasons: hot and rainy, and hot and dry. The rainy season is characterized by intense humidity, mammoth rain storms, and flooding. One knows the dry season has arrived when all the plants shrivel, and the grass turns brown and crunchy. It doesn’t rain for the remainder of the year, until the hot and rainy season comes back around.
This year, I’ll be in Turkey for Christmas, so I know it will be cold. I am so anxious to see snow again. Though I will not be wearing snow pants this year, I am excited to go outside and feel the stinging cold as I breathe. My view of winter is so idealized from my childhood memories of Romania, and the impressions I have from the media. I have been warned that winters here cause an unshakeable feeling of cold, a persistent runny nose, and stiff fingers, and that things are no longer beautiful when the snow turns gray and icy. Though I am aware that after a couple days of sub-zero temperatures, I will be aching for the warmth of summer, I am looking forward to experiencing a New England fall and winter.
Getting warm after being cold is such a pleasurable process, especially if it involves hot chocolate, blankets, and movies. I spent last weekend feeling cozy in my room with my books and Netflix, however it wasn’t quite cool enough outdoors to qualify for what I am waiting for. Fall break was a precursor of what (I am hoping) will be a wonderful but busy fall, winter, and second half of the semester.