A moderate paean to winter.

Last night was the occasion of our first snowfall in Ann Arbor. I am told that enterprising law students took study breaks to make the most of the relatively paltry offering:


Now, I have been repeatedly accused of denying the existence of snow—of, in general, pursuing a misguided recruiting gambit to falsely portray Ann Arbor as a balmy clime. This is an inaccurate characterization. The position I have taken, and will continue to take, both publicly and privately (I am, after all, mildly famous for sticking to my talking points), is merely that winter does not suck. Corollary claim: Ann Arbor winters are not actually as extreme as winters get. I recognize that neither belief is universally held, but I adhere to them sincerely.

My reasons for sanguinity about winter weather range from self-interest (I like turtlenecks, and people think I am weird if I wear them in the summer) to philanthropy (Californians are well-served by spending a few semesters in what we euphemistically refer to as a four-season climate, so that they can develop a little perspective, and perhaps build up a little karma lest their otherwise lifetime lack of winter coats enrage the fates). And whatever suffering I feel I am enduring in February—because, to be sure, winter is one thing in December and something else entirely by February—the primal happiness I feel as the quality of light changes and the days get warmer more than compensates; in the words of one Michigander poet, “he state joy is spring.” But mostly what I think about winter is—whatever. It’s winter. What’s the big deal? To quote Professor Miller (to be uttered with a disbelieving snarl): “What are you going to do, choose a place to live because of the weather?” He’s from Green Bay, I should mention.

Lest you think I am delusional in my acquiescence- to-welcoming attitudinal range, or if you personally haven’t yet worked your head into a similarly accepting place, let me lay before you the input of a random (some might say motley) assortment of the dwellers of Hutchins and South Halls as to the merits of the season now upon us:

•The satisfying sense of smugness that accompanies knowing how to drive in winter weather.

•It gives you excuses to skip things that require you to go outside.

•The fires begin to roar in every coffeehouse, restaurant, student lounge, and other space so equipped. (NB: Space so equipped includes the new student lounge in South Hall.)

•Walking on poorly cleared sidewalks develops balance, which is essential to overall fitness.

•Chicken paprikash at Amadeus.

•Observing minor but prevalent spills into snowbanks = pure Schadenfreude. (C’mon, people are really well-padded in the winter.)

•I sleep much better in the winter; I love sleeping when it’s cold.

•The hot chocolate flows like waterfalls. So too does the soup, and chili.

•An excuse to transform useless, cryptic, handwritten class notes into holiday decor by trimming them into delightful snowflake patterns to string around your room.

•Less skin damage from UV rays.

•Boots! The seasons between boots and Birks are so awkward.

•The snow-kissed, ruddy complexion is a welcome departure from the otherwise transparent skin and dark purple bags under the eyes. (Ed. note: This may be specific to law students, or perhaps generalizable to grad students writ large.)

And none of this even touches on winter sports—innertubing! ice skating! cross-country skiing! snowball-blasting!—or the opportunities for romance that blossom thanks to the deterioration of personal-space barriers accompanying cold weather and puffy coats, not to mention the bonding engendered over occasional weather-related emergencies. (I know of at least one law school love that was cemented when someone pitched in to help a classmate dig her car out of a snowdrift that topped the roof. Now they have two kids.)

Snowman say relax. And consider that Dean Caminker’s planned construction phase 320 is for the post-global-warming Quad to look like this:

Evan's idea

-Dean Z. Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Career Planning