The contrast couldn't be more pointed. Last week the streets were covered with snow and ice for three days, and freezing temperatures kept everyone inside. Today it was more than sixty degrees, the last of the snow piles was reduced to the occasional incongruous patch of slush, and students appeared in shorts and sandals.
Back in the office, I plowed through my to-do list in a frenzy of productivity. Read daily student work: check. Prep an outline for class: check. Write an proposal to submit to an international conference: check. E-mail faculty about their fall class schedules: check. Talk to students during office hours: check
It was my first day in the office in almost a week, and it felt like I should make the most of it. But the sunshine and balmy temperatures made going to work seem like a privilege. I walked the length of the campus four times -- from home to office, to class and back, and back home -- and the whole experience was transformed. For months, it seems, I've been huddled inside thick coats and woolens, dreading any time I had to venture outside to go to another building or, heaven forbid, the other side of campus. Wind, rain, snow, and frigid temperatures made me want to drive to work even when I didn't need a car during the day for any errands of off-campus appointments, just so I wouldn't have to spend fifteen minutes outside of a heated environment.
Today I picked up my lunch in the student center and strolled to the fountain to dine al fresco for the first time in 2011. I lingered with my book and my meal, and by the time I needed to pack up and cross campus to my class, I didn't need my hoodie anymore. Normally I resist student pressure to have class outside -- the distractions are too many, and it's difficult to have a productive discussion -- but today I suggested it, reasoning that our project about the campus environment made it a good idea. We soaked up the unexpected rays and replenished our stores of vitamin D.
It's supposed to be beautiful weather all week. I suspect we'll have more winter to come before spring really arrives, but right now we'll singing the groundhog's praises and relishing the sweet comparison while it's still in our short-term memories.