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Juniors Julia O’Neil and Kate Pipher headed to Baw Beese to enjoy the warm weather | Kate Pipher

When tem­per­a­tures in Hillsdale, Michigan rose to over 70 degrees last week, stu­dents jumped at the chance to spend time outside and away from the stress of school.

For junior Julia O’Neil and sophomore Kate Pipher, that meant taking a literal jump into Baw Beese Lake.

“It was so cold,” Pipher said about the tem­per­ature of the water. “It was freezing, but it was really fun.”

The girls spon­ta­neously decided to head to Baw Beese Lake after fin­ishing a run on what Pipher said felt like a late summer day.

Putting the stress of finals away for an afternoon, they embraced the rare chance to enjoy time outside during a Michigan November. 

“We’d been training for the Hillsdale half marathon,” Pipher said. “It’s just so much more enjoyable to run when it’s nice out.”

Even though Pipher had homework to finish that day, she said she doubts she’ll regret spending the afternoon with her friends.

“The warm weather encouraged us to do some­thing fun,” O’Neil said. “Even though a lot of us had a lot of homework, and it’s a time when the semester really starts to catch up to you. Just because there was warm weather, it reminded us that we’re human beings and we needed to do some­thing restful.”

As the warm weather con­tinued, O’Neil ven­tured out into nature yet again and spent an evening in Hayden Park, stargazing with friends for over two hours.

“We were finding out that two of our friends were probably going into quar­antine that week,” O’Neil said. “We were all sad about it, because we thought maybe we won’t see each other for a really long time.” 

After driving around with the windows down and music blasting, they took blankets to Hayden Park to see a sky O’Neil said she’d never seen so clear in Hillsdale. 

“It was really cool to expe­rience that with friends,” O’Neil said. “Espe­cially when nor­mally it’s super cold in November.” 

Sprawled on blankets at the park with friends and gazing at the stars, O’Neil remem­bered her clas­sical quadrivium class.

“We’re talking about how learning requires wonder,” O’Neil said. “And how important it is to actually expe­rience what you’re learning — expe­rience goodness and beauty not just in the classroom. It feels right now that the campus morale is really low. But it was this gift that there was really good weather during a really hard time for the whole com­munity.”

Junior David Strobach, who was part of the group stargazing, said it was a restful break from the chaos of campus and the pres­i­dential election.

“Michigan weather is gor­geous,” Strobach said. “This was a peaceful aside from the craziness of the world.”

He said the love­liness of the fall and its bright colors remind him of his home in Wis­consin. 

“It was an oppor­tunity to put the worries of campus, COVID, or being contact-traced aside, and just enjoy each other and enjoy the beau­tiful weather,” Strobach said.