Reflections on a warm February

Image of a sunny day
Sunny Shen/File

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The other day, when I woke up, I was sweating because it was so warm in my room. And it’s not even because my room gets that warm or has a window that faces the rising sun. It’s because it was February, and I had gone to bed in fluffy pajama pants out of spite of climate change. 

I actually really like how warm it’s been. I’m kind of sick of all my sweaters and pants. All of my warm winter clothes feel so lumpy and scratchy, and sweaters take up so much space in the laundry machine. And the feeling of the sun on my skin always makes me feel a little calmer. 

But February was not supposed to be this warm. Wearing fluffy pajama pants is one of the ways I can show my anger, but I think I’m only hurting myself here.

Recently, I read an article about climate change, and it made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve read any articles about climate change. I think, in my mind, it’s been dwarfed by other important social justice issues. Or maybe it’s just been dwarfed by midterms, which speaks to what students are forced to really care about. 

Even though the sun makes me feel calm, it’s a bit of a superficial sense of relaxation, really. If anything, the sun being this strong in February should make me panic. Impending doom and all that — climate change. The way I reflect on this fact might seem sarcastic, but it’s really just because acting too serious about it makes me feel even more scared. 

I think as soon as summer rolls around, I’m already going to be tired of the nice weather. There’s something special about waking up, expecting your toes to be tiny ice cubes but instead seeing the sun streaming in the window. In a way, the best part about a warm February is just how unexpected it is. 

Maybe I should be guiltier. There are people absolutely freezing or without power in other parts of the world right now, and I’m sitting in the grass in a tank top and shorts, complaining about how someday I’ll feel the negative effects of climate change, too. 

Has anyone else wondered if they’re going to get a mask tan on their face? This is a very vapid concern, but I can’t help but think that I’m going to end up with a row of freckles exactly where my mask ends. It’s like the world isn’t quite ready for us to be going outside yet. Maybe a weird mask tan is the punishment I get for reveling in a warm February. 

When I was walking around today I noticed how windy it was. I only noticed because my hair kept getting in my mouth, but it got me thinking about fire season. And the fact that the term “fire season” means something to me now. Only a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have really known what that meant. 

The scariest part about warm February is that it makes you feel like you’re too late. Like, even if I keep reposting infographics about fossil fuels on my Instagram story, what difference is that going to make? Even if I could go talk to the president today, what difference would that make? I mean, come on, even if the world stopped all of its fossil fuel use today, how much would that really do? And that idea is pretty much too fanatical to even consider. 

Sometimes I think about the fact that I’m basically majoring in climate change — OK, not really, but sometimes it feels that way — and I get a little hopeless. Will my major even matter in 50 years? 20 years? 10 years? I mean yes, probably. But it will look radically different. One time, before school went online, my professor took the class outside for lecture. It was funny because it was like a 50 person class, and we were all huddled on the grass with our laptops and backpacks. But when it’s a nice day out, why force yourself to stay inside? 

I’m actually not taking a class about climate change this semester. It just got to be too much. Some students probably cry in their classes when the content is too confusing or difficult or they have a midterm coming up. I cry in my classes because it gets really sad.

But a great remedy for sadness is to just get outside. Maybe take a walk. It honestly helps me a lot. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve been spending so much time outside in the sunshine in February. I’m just making the most of it. We’re all just making the most of it.

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].