1. Archive

Winter's cold curriculum teaches value of spring break

It's Snowstorm 15 and still counting. If we named winter storms the way we named hurricanes, this one would be the Big O, as in Oh-no.

The white stuff accumulating in this corner of the world has passed the height of an average basketball player and is headed for the rim. Even the weatherman has lost his passion for storms the way a chocoholic might finally overdose on Snickers.

My car, which hasn't been washed since October, is suffering from bronchitis. I've used enough kitty litter on the icy front walk to supply the entire Animal Rescue League. And the squirrels who have kept a civil rivalry over my so-called bird feeder are into deep Darwinism.

The Olympics, the last event to make snow look like a tourist attraction instead of a seasonal affective disorder, has closed up shop. Nancy Kerrigan has finally gotten cranky and my own attitude is heading downhill at the speed of the luge.

Now, as if to rub road salt into this open wound, I receive a call from a colleague who deserted the Northeast for the Southwest and then enrolled with a telephone company that gives a discount on every call she makes to gloat. "How," she asks oozing sympathy from every hypocritical pore, "are you all doing up there?"

From somewhere deep in my stoic New England roots, from somewhere deep in the stock of my father's expressions for describing various and assorted disasters, comes my reply: "Well, it's been a learning experience."

Which it has.

While folks who live in such blizzard-deprived places as Florida and Arizona have been lolling about in the sun, we here in the tundra have had enough lessons to fill an entire course catalog. Consider just a sampling of the offerings of the Winter Semester of '93-'94.

Psychology I or Getting In Touch with Your Inner Child. This is the child who has been cooped up for three consecutive months. Parents have come to know this child _ not to mention Barney, Nintendo and the complete soundtrack of Beauty and the Beast _ with an intimacy that goes beyond mere claustrophobia. This course has provided parents with a lifetime appreciation of the public school system.

Language Skills 12b. It is said that the Eskimos have 21 words for snow. Not to be outdone, students here have acquired 32 more words for snow, none of which can be repeated in a family newspaper.

Anthropology 103. During this time, we have come to understand the needs that propelled cave dwellers to bulk up for the long cold winter by hoarding large reserves of fat on their hips. They didn't do it with Ben & Jerry's, but never mind.

Biology 204. In this advanced class on evolution, we discovered that, no, it is not possible to evolve a foot into a snowshoe in a mere matter of months.

Physical Education 13. How to walk on ice without looking like a dork or your aging grandmother. This was a short course, but it was a prerequisite for . . .

Applied Health Sciences 34 or Learning to Love Your Orthopedic Surgeon. Many of us arrived at this emotional class after failing Phys Ed 13. Here we used everything we learned in Language Skills 12b.

Basic Computer Sciences X: A Detailed Study of Telecommuting. Telecommuting is what you must tell your boss you are doing when you are actually Getting In Touch with Your Inner Child. Students who did telecommute _ we are sorry to say _ found that while they were working, their inner children had turned the television to the Menendez trial.

Economics 300. For this advanced class we embarked on a sophisticated study of the information superhighway. At this rate, it may be the only highway open.

Political Science 43a. One of the remarkable discoveries of this seminar had to do with public attitudes toward government. The findings can be summed up this way: People do not call for less government while waiting for their street to be plowed.

Finally, no course of study would be complete without a spiritual component. We here in the tundra would not like our fellow citizens to think we had lost our soul.

So, in Religion 101, we have been memorizing various proverbs and sayings. My own favorite is: Hope Springs Eternal.

I just wish I knew where it winters.

Boston Globe