Cold weather, cocoa, & conversations

By Hae Ryun Kang

Oh, weather. At one point or another, we have endured meaningless exchanges of, “Oh what nice weather we’re having!” and “Yes, look at how sunny!” The most mundane and trivial topic of conversation-and writing, for that matter. At Macalester, weather holds a more exciting connotation. Not because it is a noticeable aspect of our environment, but because it is so painfully so, at least according to many students.

“You don’t want to be alive,” or “The campus dies around winter because it is so freezing,” seem to be the general consensus regarding the approaching season.

Mac students have all heard the infamous -41øF (-40.6øC) drop one legendary winter-the annual average winter temperature of Vostok, Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, is a close -59øF (-50.6øC).

If it helps, that legendary winter is a good 119 years behind 2007. And the annual average of the Twin Cities is a healthy range of 0 to 4øF (0 to -15.6øC) from November to March.

This is all beside the point. Mac students have been evading any confrontation with the winter winds-running to classes underneath bundles of clothes, or semi-hibernating within heated buildings-that they have neglected what crucial role weather plays in shaping our Mac identity.

Sure, we have our sports teams and political incorrectness. But if there is one thing above all else, that unites the Macalester students, it is this fear of the good old Minnesotan winter.

The dread throughout autumn, the temporary giddiness over snow (especially among first-years), and then the dead silence of midwinter-these are the ties of our kinship, the spirit of our school.

Although this doesn’t change the pangs of coldness we will endure for the next four to five months-the wind chills will still slice open our cheeks, our toes will still freeze beneath the socks-it might be an incentive to strike up a conversation with a fellow Mac student.

“Hey, freezing my ass out here! You too? How about a nice cup of cocoa?” At Mac, weather is not just a boring conversation opener.