“I’m having a snow day! This is insane!” screamed every Californian student at Bowdoin last Friday.
Last week, Nemo, in all her snowy might, threw a coat of whiteness over campus, effectively canceling all of our commitments, routines and responsibilities. It was as if nature declared a spontaneous national holiday. As I walked across campus—and this was especially true for Saturday—I saw 20-year-olds slipping back into their younger selves, diving into snow dunes, hurling snow-balls at one another, and delighting in the prospects of homemade igloos. There was cross-country skiing on the quad, hot chocolate brewing in the kitchen, and the familiar squelch of snow boots in the Union. I saw a puffy-jacketed girl make angel wings in the snow, and a Texas boy breathe life into his first snowman.
As if we hadn’t already considered him Bowdoin’s resident “cool parent,” Randy Nichols sent out a cautionary email, warning us to be careful tunneling in the snow banks should we want to avoid a grisly decapitation from plows. Thanks, Dad!
A palpable sense of joy and excitement thickened the air; never before had I seen college students carpe a Friday with such fervor. Night didn’t stop us. This is Bowdoin, where we party in snow boots. Let’s all hope the beer jacket is real, and that it’s waterproof. To Burn! To Brunswick! No, not to Pine, Pine is too far.
At the end the night—or accurately, the early morning—when I made the trudge back home to Reed, I collapsed on my couch, exhausted.
Not soon after, I heard a muffled knock on the door, in stumbled a weary traveler with ice on his beard. “I’m making my way home, but thought I’d stop in a minute for shelter.” Fierce weather will do that. He sat for a while, and I considered the Robert Frost-like quality of his visit. When he left, I slept, the blizzard continuing to rage after I couldn’t any longer.
I grew up in Connecticut, so I’ve had my fair share of snow days. They mostly involved a lot of sleeping in, followed by a lot of shoveling and a lot of television. They were often prophesied by the trusty “Snow Day Calculator,” every New England high schooler’s second favorite website (after Wikipedia). When I got into Bowdoin, I figured I’d be leaving those days behind—after all, you can’t cancel school when you live there. How sweet it was to be proven wrong. And guess what? Snow days are way better in college.
The “work hard, play hard” ethic characterizes many of my Bowdoin experiences, and most of my Bowdoin friends. Balance is implicit to our happiness, and so we counter the rigor of our schoolwork with fierce bouts of enjoyment. If you aren’t sure what I mean, compare a student studying organic chemistry to a spectator at the Bowdoin-Colby hockey game—chances are, they have the same heart rate. But there’s something about a snowfall that recalibrates our internal scales, and suspends our constant feeling of responsibility. Snow, for reasons unexplained, makes us giddy. Gazing across campus, I saw visible transformation—a Benjamin-Buttoning, if you will—of highly pressurized students into more innocent, childlike versions of themselves. It’s hard to remember the last time that the need to play overrode the duty to work, but the snowstorm achieved just that. I experienced a carefree lightness, not because I’d never had a snow day before, but because I was finally old enough to appreciate what a miraculous relief it is to shake off my worries and play.
This is why snow days in college are the best: we’re more grateful for them. What a lovely reassurance that maturity isn’t permanent, and that a vestigial reserve of childlike wonder pools readily under our surfaces. We may finally be adults, but sometimes, we make for pretty good children.
Callie Ferguson is a member of the Class of 2015.