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Winter is coming | Wikimedia
Winter is coming | Wiki­media

As tem­per­ature drops, mem­ories of wig­gling toes in soggy socks and hob­bling to class after slipping on icy side­walks warn stu­dents of the forth­coming winter.

To intensify our autumn chill-induced pre­mo­ni­tions, according to a Col­legian article from last week, Judah Cohen, director of sea­sonal fore­casting at Atmos­pheric and Envi­ron­mental Research, pre­dicts colder-than-normal tem­per­a­tures for Michigan this year.

If summer glistens with sun­light, then winter marks the reign of the moon, all in silver, feebly illu­mi­nating the incessant dusk. Why does the season seem so cruel?

In poetry, as in familiar thought, winter is syn­onymous with all that is cold and dark in the human soul. This is a shame, because the season that dom­i­nates nearly half of our time at the college is much more than that.

Senior Hank Prim, native Chicagoan and head RA in Simpson Dor­mitory, said he enjoys winter for its expanded fashion selection (specif­i­cally, elegant coats and classy attire “to impress the women-folk”) as well as the variety of activ­ities the season affords.

“It’s a dif­ferent kind of spon­ta­neous,” he said. “There’s some­thing to be said about being able to have random snowball fights across the quad with the people you live with as you walk to class. You can’t just pick up dirt and do that.”

Because it offers unique oppor­tu­nities, winter means much more than the antithesis of summer, an unfor­tunate tran­si­tional season that we endure simply for its con­trast to the pleas­antness of spring.

British poet Edith Sitwell described the season as like an evening dinner party with friends: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

Summer, perhaps, is the season of action. Winter, on the con­trary, directs souls inward and turns our minds toward reflection on the deeper things.

German philosopher Josef Pieper, in his book “Only the Lover Sings: Art and Con­tem­plation,” described an incident while returning to Europe from New York in which he noticed how infre­quently we are willing not simply to look, but truly to see what’s going on around us.

“…at table I had men­tioned those mag­nif­icent flu­o­rescent sea crea­tures whirled up to the surface by the hun­dreds in our ship’s bow wake,” he said. “The next day it was casually men­tioned that ‘last night there was nothing to be seen.’ Indeed, for nobody had the patience to let the eyes adapt to the darkness. To repeat, then: man’s ability to see is in decline.”

Let us adopt the mea­sured pace of winter.  The shrinking sun­light and growing chill may impede certain activ­ities (and often our mood), but dimmed light ignites con­tem­plation. If we let our eyes adapt to the darkness, our thoughts turn from events to ideas, and often we notice beauty we once over­looked.

Each season has its ben­efits, and winter affords us the time and dis­po­sition for con­tem­plation and inno­vation and wonder.

Phi­losophy pro­fessor Howard L. Parsons, in his essay “A Phi­losophy of Wonder,” argued that we lose the expe­rience of wonder as we become familiar with our envi­ronment, but a change can reorient our thoughts.

“…the con­di­tioning effects of habit tend to determine not only what we regard as ordinary but also what we are ready to respond to as won­derful,” he said. “Cen­turies ago an eclipse, comet, or thun­der­storm was an invariable occasion for wonder, since such occur­rences had not yet been inte­grated into the system of expec­ta­tions and meanings of men.”

As we antic­ipate winter, we need not expect the mundane.

His­tor­i­cally, winter is a time of expectant pause. Farmers reap the fruits of summer’s toil as they prepare for the unfolding of spring. And we, too, bearing in mind what we’ve learned in warmer days, can enjoy this time of reflection, so we may emerge in spring not from hibernation’s stupor, but in delib­er­ative readiness.

Ms. Fry is a junior studying French and jour­nalism.