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This Winter

SOMEBODY shake some sense into that groundhog. This is enough of winter. This truly is enough. March has arrived, but the thermometer hasn't noticed. Thursday brought another freezing storm, the 15th of the season. New England now has had the most inches of snow since meterologists began keeping records. Fax us information about the Jack London dogsled survivors' club. No, we're not having fun yet.

As March begins, New Englanders will attempt to resist false hope or mere optimism. Don't try any gimmicks to make us feel better. Don't show us Red Sox players warming up outside the batting cage in their balmy new Fort Myers training camp; photos of palm trees in tropical breezes, be gone! We know we are just going to have to endure a few more roller coaster weeks of freeze and thaw, ice and slush; the dull jangling scrape of the snow plow on our streets and sidewalks hasn't quite ended. Look out for that pothole!

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We expect that skeptics will want to one-up this current winter with stories of some blizzard in 1720, or the fate of the saber-toothed tiger in the Northwest Territories after the Ice Age. We are braced to be regaled about the Siberian ``whisper of stars'' - a condition occurring when it is so cold one's breath freezes and falls to the ground when exhaling. There are true stories about campfires in the Gulag so hot, and winters so cold, that when a bottle of water is moved a foot toward the fire it boils, and when moved a foot away it freezes.

But we are unmoved. You know it is a tough winter when the Canadians complain. This winter even northern Canadians, honorary polar bear-types, were found to be muttering quietly to themselves about windchill factors and such.

There is, however, an approach that can sway us - a remembrance of the uses of winter. In one sense, what better time is there to read, study, think, and share? Forced inside, we open a door to a different world. A resister under the Nazi occupation in France, Albert Camus would later write of his experience, ``In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.'' Out of this world it may be possible to say, ``Spring is on the way.''

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