Writer Robert Byrne once described winter as “nature’s way of saying, ‘up yours.'” Judging by the recent temperatures in Miami, as well as around the rest of the country, he was right.
Monday was the coldest day in South Florida so far this winter, with temperatures dipping into the low 40s in the morning and at night. Miamians took the opportunity to show off our wardrobes, whipping out knee-length coats – why we own them when we can use them basically once or twice a year remains a mystery – our Burberry scarves and Ugg boots (occasionally appearing outside of the traditional miniskirt/Uggs combo), and the ubiquitous, oversized UM sweatshirts.
Around campus, many out-of-towners were easily identified, wearing short-sleeved shirts, Bermudas and sandals, and not necessarily because they weren’t cold, but because Miami, with its beaches, palm trees and general greenery, is not the place to be wearing winter clothing, even at indisputably cold temperatures (in effect, most people don’t even bring a piece of their winter attire to occupy precious luggage and closet space in what’s supposed to be a tropical paradise). Walking around the seemingly empty campus, the biggest irony was the students that were visibly feeling the chill, sporting hats and huddling with their friends, but wearing flip flops – only in Miami.
Yet, while we were busy complaining of “freezing to death” in the 40-degree weather, Bostonians, along with many other northerners, were shoveling out after a dumping of more than two feet of the white stuff (no, not that white stuff). In fact, the only reassurance we may have had over the weekend, cruel as it may be for the folks up North, was watching the football playoffs, as snow was shoveled off the field and players were indistinguishable in a sea of whiteness. Simply turning on the TV set was enough to make us feel a little bit warmer. At least when we looked outside, we realized that our cold was under a clear, blue sky. And hey, it could be worse. On Jan. 19, 1977, it snowed in Miami.
On the upside, some argue that the cold unites people, since everyone suffers the same way in chilly weather. There’s always a topic of conversation (“It’s sooo cold!”) and an excuse to hug people, stand and sit closer to them, or smile at a fellow classmate shivering on the way to the UC. Students that had no class last Friday complained that their first three-day weekend was spent indoors, with nothing much to do outside, but this ended up being an unexpected bonding experience, as students were forced to mingle and get to know each other. On the other end of the spectrum, however, were the brave few that ventured to the beaches on Saturday, claiming that “This is near-summer weather in Wisconsin!” (in that case, boy, are we glad we’re not in Wisconsin).
Still, without going to blizzard-like extremes, Miamians need winter in order to appreciate the summer. The welcome change makes us value our lifestyle, and, at least for a few cold days during the year, we’re reminded of how lucky we are. We realize that we’re spoiled: We complain when it’s hot outside and freezing inside due to the air conditioning, but then we’re upset when it’s cold outdoors and the air conditioning is turned off indoors. It’s normally 80 degrees, so we grumble when it suddenly drops to 60-still-relatively-warm degrees. After all, 60 degrees isn’t really cold, especially when you look at your local weather from up North and see that the high for the day was 12 degrees.
The moral: suck it up and make the most of it. We just know we’ll be complaining once it’s sweltering in August.