The northeastern US has been gripped by severe and hardened cold. Consider, for a moment, how much colder 20 ºF feels than 60 ºF. Imagine that difference projected past its original low point, out the other side to -20 ºF. After past winter temperatures like these, I can attest that the return to “normal” winter really does feel 40 ºF warmer. The rivers and lakes are freezing. The snow is a dry powder, dozens of degrees below its melting point. A warm home above the frozen waters sounds pretty inviting.
Finals week is upon St. Lawrence University. The campus is in full “winter mode”, blanketed with snow. The oddest thing about this time is its effect on the student population: a sharp partitioning between those who are finished, relaxed, preparing to leave and those who are tense, stressed, and trying to make it through. Like the dynamics of molecules in excited states, that latter group slowly relaxes to join the former.