Bitburg, Goa, Malaga

Today is April 5th, and the thermometer on my car’s dashboard reads 1.5 degrees Celsius – that’s 34.7 decrees Fahrenheit. Damn! The sky is the color of old sweat socks; the daylight is feeble and dim; the trees and shrubs are clenched tightly – nothing has budded out except the snowbell flowers. The crows flap and scudder across the brown lawn outside my classroom window, grumbling and complaining. Today I feel like a scruffy old crow, my feathers puffed out against the never-ending cold.

How are we to keep our spirits up during a prolonged cold spell like this? I wonder how people in Finland do it – or Alaska, or Saskatchewan. The cold and dark sap my will to do anything but veg on the couch with a good book, or perhaps with some bad TV. I’m gaining weight – who wants to go out walking in this crappy weather? And our base gym isn’t heated. I know, I know – there are plenty of things I could do to raise my spirits and my energy level. I could put on some salsa music and shake my ass like Shakira. I could throw away the lesson plan and put my students into groups to write horror stories. I could put on every bit of bright-colored clothing I have, all at once. I could cook up a spicy Thai curry.

But I digress – I’m actually sitting at my desk listening to Suburbs of Goa Radio – funky, soul-warming South Asian music. It tamps down the frayed edges of my pre-flight nerves. In a few hours I’ll head to the airport and fly to the Costa del Sol for spring break. Malaga, here I come. All week long I’ve been annoying my students by humming “Que Viva España” – badly, I’m sure. The prospect of this vacation has kept my spirits up all through the frantic last week before report cards.

But for now, I’m huddled at my desk, wrapped up in a big turquoise shawl that I bought last spring break in Rhodes. It’s the color of shutters on whitewashed Greek village houses. It takes me back to a happier place and time, and the possibility of sun, warmth, relaxation and fun. I think that if we didn’t have spring break, the students would just put their heads down on their desks and weep – surrendering to the cold-weather blues, the interminable march of school day after school day, and the snarky commentary of the crows. I know that I would.

Happy spring break, everyone!

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