Xavier Magazine

Drawn to Xavier: Spring Backward

Drawn to Xavier is an historically accurate* account of life at Xavier. It is quite possibly the world’s only cartoon blog that is both dedicated to a venerable Jesuit university and to the proposition that humor is not quite as close to godliness as cleanliness, but it is a lot funnier.

(*Well…not exactly.)


Another Groundhog Day has come and gone, and shadow or no shadow, one constant remains: an accurate prediction of spring’s arrival via the public display of woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers, Wiarton Willies and Punxsutawney Phils. That remains as illusive as ever.

The problem is that while contemplating the early arrival of spring makes everyone want to break out their lute and flit about—this is a time of year that’s not to be trusted. Especially in Cincinnati. In Sheboygan, Wisc., for instance, spring is pretty clear-cut. It’s not freezing anymore. There is no such thing as early spring. “Early spring” is just “late winter,” so get over it. As the saying goes, up there in that shivering neck of God’s country, “The first robin of spring is probably the last robin of winter yet to thaw out.”


In Cincinnati’s case, it isn’t that spring doesn’t arrive early enough. It’s that southeastern Ohio has never embraced winter. So while spring constantly feels just around the corner, even in January, what usually smacks the crown off the Queen City is some mutant weather event—like a snownado or freezing drizzle-fog. A casual historic review of February weather events that have occurred directly on the Xavier campus reveals meteorological phenomena of a near apocalyptic nature—like in mid-February 1937 when it hailed tiny frozen rainbows over Hinkle Hall.


Or the flash/blizzard and freeze of ’61 that left in its wake a peculiarly formless pillar of snow in the middle of the Academic Mall that was revealed to be, after the next day’s rapid warm-up into the mid-60s, professor Werner frozen in-situ whilst pondering a juicy bit of Podolsky.


Eyewitnesses reported that der professor continued on his way in mid-stride, once his legs were thawed enough to move.

But, even today, just like the generations that have followed, when the sun breaks through and warms the air, students emerge from their own burrows. Parkas and T-shirts rub shoulders, intrepid bikers wobble by swaddled in parkas like bubble wrap.



This is the siren’s call of spring, with the sole mission of sending the early spring-seeker crashing into the next mutant weather event—in this case, Feb. 11, 2013—here faithfully replicated from a news source certified to be accurate. Mostly.

“Look out the window. The sun is shining, but look closely—even though it’s in the mid-60s, you’ll see the trees bending in the strong winds. A cold front is coming through and temperatures are falling. Run! Grab your winter coat, a few canned goods and head for the storm cellar—reports are coming in of frozen rainbow hail falling from the sky like colorful boomerangs of icy death hurled by vengeful snow-gods. Save yourself! Expect a gradual warming trend through the rest of the week, and just when you think spring is finally arrived, a plummet to the mid-teens during the weekend followed by straight-line gale-force winds, plus more chances for snownados, freezing drizzle-fog, sleeting thunder storms and flying monkeys. And remember—it’s not too early to get those crocus bulbs in the ground.”


So there you have it. Too-early spring in Cincinnati. A climatic and emotional whipsaw for even the most saintly dispositions, say St. Medardus of Noyon—or, if he had lived near campus, St. Medardus of Norwood—considered the patron saints of good weather and even the original “groundhog” of his day. It’s said that whatever the weather on his feast day, June 8, it will continue for 40 days. (Yeah, try that in February.) So invoke away. Legend also has it that as a child, St. Medardus was once sheltered from rain by an eagle hovering over him. And that he is often depicted with his mouth open. (Medardus, not the eagle. And hopefully not while the eagle is actually hovering over him.)


Though, if there were actually a St. Medardus of Norwood, that certainly would have stopped traffic at the corner of Montgomery and Cleneay.*

(*In full saintly disclosure, he is not only a go-to intercessor against bad weather, but also sterility, toothache and imprisonment. He’s also the patron saint of  [among other things] vineyards, brewers, prisoners and peasants. So it’s easy to imagine that “an early spring” might not often rise to the top of St. Medardus’ to-do list.)

Still, when the temperature does rise enough to warm the frostiest of cockles, it’s reaffirming to wander out on campus to witness that first fragile flight of the Frisbee.


And even though pushing the envelope on outside diversions may result in a g-string snapping during an open frosty open-air concert. (On the guitar. Where is your mind at?)


When you get right down to it, weather is essentially irrelevant to anyone under 30 years of age. Between the ages of 30 and 60, weather is mostly consigned to that space between your car and the front door at home and/or work. Sixty and over? Weather (its measurement, forecasting and discussion) occupies most of our waking hours. Blame that on global wrinkling.

10global wrinkling


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