For those of you who know me, you are probably aware of my seemingly unnatural affinity with winter. Winter, apparently, is not a particularly well-appreciated season; not even here in Goshen, where we seem to have one or more annually.
I, however, have always been a fan. That point aside, I recognize at least one unpleasant aspect of winter and that is the sad nature of its demise.
Summer, a respectable yet unbearable season in its own right, has a dignified end. Gradually the heat recedes without any particular fuss until one morning, frost is glimpsed on the grass and it is clear that fall has slipped into the air unnoticed.
Winter is a different story. It struggles to hold onto its domain. Horrible discoloured snow banks and chunks of depraved ice persist, seemingly into mid-June. An old friend of mine rightly termed this seasonal flotsam and jetsam “the dregs of winter.”
I distinctly recall a winter that I experienced in middle school or perhaps early high school. In late fall, an unfortunate deer met its untimely end directly opposite of our middle school in clear sight of everyone and everything including our bus route. The body was briefly visible on the grass between the sidewalk and road, but was shortly covered over by snow.
For more than three months the frigid corpse remained unnoticed. Then spring arrived. Before our very eyes, the sad remains of this animal were uncovered day by day as rising temperatures and rain released it from an icy tomb.
This, my friends, is the danger. For months now, road kill has been steadily collecting and now it is ready to make a final bid for attention.
Of course, on campus this has not posed any real danger. The few dead squirrels I’ve seen over the past years appear to have succumbed to “natural” causes – or at least ones not involving longboards or golf carts.
But the melting snow on campus is beginning to reveal unsettling discoveries.
Chief among these are fruits, predominantly oranges – although I did see a partially eaten apple. These can be found in various stages of consumption and decomposition, sometimes peeled, sometimes whole.
But far from just fruit is being revealed.
Among other things, I’ve taken distinct note of a waterlogged t-shirt (pictured), hair ties, and various candy wrappers. A snow bank just north of campus melted to reveal part of a car bumper. Several days later, a pizza crust emerged from the same drift. Elsewhere, a stick of chapstick surfaced, and I noted a crushed fork near a campus sidewalk. Perhaps most disturbingly of all, I witnessed an intravenous drip bag lying in the sodden grass near the Dining Hall.
With the rapidly warming weather, I caution all of you. Do not hasten to go forth, frolicking in the sunshine and balmy climate. Danger lies afoot…literally. The last thing you’d want to do is kick off your shoes and step straight into the mouldering remains of a grapefruit from late November.
The harsh grandeur of winter departs, and in its wake the festering beginnings of spring are taking shape. Thus is my warning. Take heed.