On the second floor of the library, carved into the lip of the shelf in one of the study carrels are the three simple words that every Deerfield student will utter at some point: I WANT SPRING.
Returning students who find these words will nod their heads in agreement, nudge a friend (quietly, since the librarians are always watching) and share a simultaneous grimace in the mutual acknowledgement that winter is truly one of Deerfield’s darkest times. Yet new students may see this simple phrase and merely register confusion, especially since the week of winter we have experienced so far has been mild, and the Christmas tree is up in the dining hall, and everything seems like it’s going to be ok. Innocence is bliss, or that’s what they claim.
Winter term at DA is surely the longest, and is by far the least favorite term. While the 2.5 weeks before Christmas break are filled with wreaths and hall Secret Snowflake parties, once January rolls around, many students find themselves slipping into hibernation mode. The days are short, the piles of snow are high, and the walk to the dining hall or library seems longer with every gust of freezing wind.
But without winter, would the Deerfield experience really be the same? Judging from personal experience, the girls varsity swim team, a notorious “cult,” would not be half as close without the bonding forged over long practices, late dinners, and hair that freezes stiff on the walk back to the dorm. Hockey games are well-attended, of course because of Deerfield’s unparalleled school spirit, but also because it’s winter, and there’s really nothing else to do.
Spring at Deerfield is a looming beacon of hope for every student who feels they are slipping into hopelessness as the snow continues to fall and the path to the Koch center becomes more and more treacherously icy. But spring would be a disappointment if it wasn’t preceded by the dismal days of winter. Once March is over, life can only get better, and so the budding leaves, outdoor sports, and Sundays spent by the river, hallmarks of Deerfield days, are made even better because we are now seasoned veterans of the winter term.
So Christmas break is drawing nearer, and with it the start of those brutal next two months, and even though I have never been a proponent of vandalism I think of that anonymous student who carved those wise words into that desk and feel some solidarity as we both wait for the arrival of spring.