In the latest installment of In Defense Of, Brian Wagner endeavors to defend the indefensible, and redeem the much-maligned. Yesterday the lawns were liberated! Today, a pathetic attempt at snow sprinkles the grass. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone…

Each year, when the fall weather starts to rear its ugly head, Facilities rolls out those great white beasts: the tarps. And each year, people groan and grumble. The sheets themselves really aren’t any sort of troublemakers. Sure, they prevent you from frolicking in the fields, but by the time they’re down, it’s probably too cold for that anyway. Perhaps it isn’t the tarps themselves that bother us, but rather what they represent. They blanket the lawns for 5-ish months, a large portion of the school year, as a reminder that the weather really isn’t fantastic for most of the time we spend here. The laying of the tarps is a sign that we too must begin buckling down for the long, seemingly endless stretch of cold, darkness, and lonely despair that meteorologists refer to as winter.

That said, do the tarps really deserve all the hate? They’re on the lawns for one reason: snow. And when that snow does fall, they’re suddenly a site of glory. As the first flurries flutter down to earth and begin to coat the ground, we can look out onto the lawns and already behold what appears to be a winter wonderland. Once more snow has fallen, the tarps provide us with places to glide, play, and build snow phalli—  a big old snow dick looks much more at home against a white, fluffy background than it would wallowing on a patch of dead lawn. The tarp’s slight sheen reflects the moonlight as you trudge home Butler. Plus, when the ice starts to melt, the tarps still look like they’re covered under a soft blanket of winter weather. The illusion remains! Snow is the most beautiful part of the dark months, and these pallid lawn-dwellers help to make it look even more dazzling.

The tarps aren’t the reason for your despair. Really, they’re nothing more than a parka for the lawns. The grass gets a little cold during the winter, just like us, and it wants to snuggle up under a big sheet to keep warm. The tarps are telling us: “Hey, it’s gonna be a little rough for a while. Just do your best to stay warm and comfy, and we’ll get through this.” In fact, the moment when the tarps are pulled back is one of the most glorious for any Columbian. People were whistling on College Walk yesterday! They aren’t the most visually appealing things in the world, reflecting the cold, gray New York weather for most of the fall, but neither are vast expanses of dead brown grass that would be there come springtime without the tarps. The ends justify the means! Sure, school can be tough, and much of the time between October and April is filled with dreariness and despondency. But just hang in there, because you’ll make it. And when you do, it’ll be that much sweeter. Shed your winter shell of despair and emerge, as happy as before, back into the glory of warm weather and the close of the school year (starting next week.)