Mar 302008
Authors: Anne Marie Merline

There are many rituals concerning spring.

Some trace the roots back to the Greek and Roman days to help liberate those of mate-able age during the season of fertility.

There are the Pagan rites of the new season that gave way to the Christians seeking a more worship-oriented passage into spring, which did not quite work out.

In the modern era, spring rites during World War I gave way to the festivities that college students celebrate today. Through the decades of the late 20th century, the ebb and flow of self-indulgence — however celebrated — gives us all a week off in the middle of the semester.

Through it all, it is all about enjoying the liberation of the winter coat and the hope of Mother Nature’s fertility in the coming months with people who we like spending time with.

The assignment that I give my students over spring break is to “sleep in, eat well and take time to visit family and friends.” Because I require it of my students, I do the same.

Some head for warmer weather for a week of excess, some use the time to help serve others through service learning programs around the globe.

Spring break for me for many years has meant a trip to the colder climate of Minnesota to reconnect with my favorite boy in the littlest boy category, Theo. “TT,” as I call him, is the oldest son of my friends Shannon and Jason.

I wish I could say that I met Shannon and Jason in college and that we had lots of spring break adventures together. In my mind, I imagine that they are and that we did.

They are the kind of friends that you would like to meet in college.

For the record, Shannon and Jason both went to college in Minnesota at Gustavus Adolfus. They met there as undergraduate students and eventually got married here in Fort Collins, where Jason sojourned as a graduate student in physics.

I went to college in New Hampshire at New England College. The only person that I kept as a friend was the man I married almost 23 years ago, a few months after I graduated with my B.A. in earth science education.

My now ex-husband became friends with Jason. Shannon moved into town. Jason graduated in 2001 with his Ph.D. I now consider them life long friends.

We have now been friends through Jason and my graduate school experience, their marriage, my divorce, moves all across the country and now three sons between us. We make it a point to see each other twice a year.

Once a year, (spring break) my son and I travel to where they live, now Minnetonka, Minnesota, and once a year (when the babies are old enough), they travel here to Fort Fun to enjoy the weather, see a blue sky again, visit their favorite brew-pubs and to visit friends from CSU and their former ‘hood.

The most important lesson is the importance of having good life-long friends, some of whom you have met, or ones you will meet in college.

Shannon and Jason are among my best friends. I hope that their sons, Theo and Henry, whom I just met this week, become the same as they grow up.

Shannon and Jason are the ones who I trust with my most important thoughts, decisions, and life’s conundrums.

They are the ones that I brave the Great White North for during a week that is supposed to be filled with self-indulgence.

Instead I actually cooked a meal for them, changed their son’s diaper, sat back through babies crying and a four-year-old — well — being a four-year-old. I think they call this Karma.

All, however, has been well worth the investment of time and energy, to let the people I love know just that by hanging out with them.

I know that in about 10 years that we will all be able to take that real spring break that I never took as an undergraduate and that I have not been able to take as an adult.

We will be past the diapers and be able to take on the rites of spring as a reward of a job well done.

Anne Marie Merline is a professor for the University Honors Program. Her column appears biweekly Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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