Web Exclusives:On the Campus...

April 4, 2001:
Snowy Day(s)

By Annie Ruderman '01

I'm from Chicago, which means that when "winter" strikes this little mid-Atlantic town of ours I generally scoff and secretly wish that my car had four-wheel drive and that my mother was making minestrone soup for dinner. So when "winter storm warnings" began to dominate the evening news and rumors of the "worst storm in history" flooded the campus faster than el Nino in July, I (as usual) scoffed and thought nothing of the fact that my winter coat is now missing three buttons or that I neglected to buy an appropriate pair of boots last November.

The rest of Princeton took matters more seriously. The University established a "snowline" 8-SNOW and posted "storm advisories" and "updates" on the Princeton homepage. My eating club sent out an email, assuring members that we were "prepared," but no meal-exchanging allowed and go easy on the milk, please. Eve (from California), whose pre-Princeton idea of a meteorological disaster were the two weeks of hazy June mornings called "June gloom," brought back extra produce from dinner. For my part, I'll admit that I did wager with Mother Nature and decided to skip my Italian homework, due the following day. On Sunday night the entire campus braced for the storm:

Day 1:

A slight drizzle that soon turned into a slushy rain, which suspiciously resembled the slight drizzle/slushy rain combination that has characterized Princeton weather for the past for years and probably for four hundred before that. The university, however, was "ready" and institution that it is, remained closed for all but the essential services. The internal logic of what does and what does not constitute an "essential service" simply does not exist, but I would hazard a guess that whoever determined that distinction holds a position in a "nonessential service." Classes were (surprise) considered essential ñ but, and here's the glorious silver lining in the would-be snow clouds -- only if your professors could make it. Which meant arrivederci to Italiano.

As it turns out, I managed a spectacular scheduling job this spring; all my professors hail from the hinterlands of New Jersey or worse if that's imaginable. Monday night I received an email stating that my scheduled movie for that night and the corresponding seminar for Tuesday afternoon had been -- cancelled! My life had just increased by nine hours, courtesy of "the worst storm in history." I resisted the urge to email back: I hope it snows until May.

Day 2:

Jokester that she is, Mother Nature may have fooled Princeton Monday, but Tuesday morning we were back in action and school opened at fully-capacity (except my seminar!) at 10 am. Then it started snowing. To the distress of some, but the thorough delight of most, it blizzarded in bursts for most of the afternoon before giving up the effort entirely sometime early Tuesday night.

I was walking back from the computer cluster late that night when John (a southern boy) remarked on how beautiful Princeton looked, now, in the wintertime. The campus, he said "has the perfect amount of snow."

Day 3:

Sunshine. Blue skies. Warm air. The winter storm is over. I venture outside without a jacket on. That was nothing, I scoff to all who will listen. You should see what we get back home.

You can reach Annie Ruderman at ruderman@princeton.edu