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From Sand to Snow: Reflection on January

Renata Molinari Borges da Costa

As the end of the year approaches, hemisphere North and hemisphere South of the globe undergo seasonal changes. Whereas here in the United States, and particularly in Minnesota, winter is closer than ever; in Brazil, where I am from, a scorching hot summer is right around the corner.

In my family we have a tradition that goes back more than 50 years. When summer is at its peak in the month of January, my Grandparents and I drive from the city of Viçosa, in the state of Minas Gerais, to the Castelhanos beach. This beach is located on the East Coast, in the state of Espirito Santo, and is one of the smallest in Brazil. It usually takes us six hours to get there. Every morning of the vacation we wake up around 8 A.M., put on our bathing suits, have a little snack, and go straight to the beach on foot, walking on unpaved, sandy streets. The wind blows strongly and engulfs us as we cruise along a narrow street flanked by some three floor buildings and two level houses. As soon as we reach the main street however, the landscape opens up and the aggressive winds fall into a calm, soft breeze. From there, the ocean is in sight. The water is a deep blue in the horizon with a more earthy tone in the shallow parts, and its temperature is very cold.

Although cold water might be unpleasant for other people, I think it’s perfect to counterbalance the summer weather. With the intense sun rays on us all day, it is a relief to be able to swim and refresh myself in these blue, cold waters. Our days in Castelhanos are laid back, and there are hardly any alterations in either the landscape or our daily schedule. The days are long and slow. I simply enjoy myself underneath the sun in the most carefree state of mind I could possibly have. We usually stay at the hotel for ten days and, when the time is over, we embark in the six hour journey back home. Inside the car, I already miss those delightful, long days on the Atlantic seashore.

This January I will not be at Castelhanos. Instead, I will be here in Moorhead, and I do not doubt it will be tough. However, it will not be tough because of the extreme cold weather to which I am not at all used to, but because of the memories associated with January; all the moments that I know so well and will not take part in. On the bright side, perhaps by remembering the sunny days and fun moments with my family in Castelhanos, I will be able to keep my heart warm and make my way through the freezing Minnesota winter.

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