It’s been warm in Cambridge for the past few days. Not warm by any sane person standards, but warm by New-England-in-February standards — so somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees. The breeze smells like composting leaves, mud and something that distinctly tastes like spring. The ice that has covered the Quad for what feels like several months is slowly melting, leaving large puddles in the paths, which are spotted with the footprints of undergrads who splashed through on their way to lecture.
The smells floating on the wind keep reminding me of those precious days in elementary school in early spring when they would let us run out onto the playground after months of indoor recess. Instead of playing kickball, or running to the monkey bars, I and many of my classmates would spend most of the time attacking the snow and ice that remained. I remember diligently scrapping with small and reddened fingers handfuls of gritty snow from the frozen, dirty piles that remained, and throwing them onto the dark tarmac, watching happily as they melted into nothing but wet black stains. I remember stomping on chunks of ice, shattering them into a thousand tiny pieces (or, more likely, merely chipping a few tiny pieces off the larger, more stubborn mass), and building dams of slush across the rivulets of snowmelt that ran down the driveway of my school in the hopes the water would wash the last of the snow away. I don’t know why I found these tiny, completely ineffectual rituals so satisfying, but somehow the few handfuls of winter I destroyed helped hasten the arrival of spring, even if the snow returned the next day.
Today I couldn’t help but smile as I casually kicked some snow into a puddle when I passed a particularly large snowbank on the way to lecture.