I dread winter. Snow-covered street lamps and snowflakes are anything but beautiful to me — the snow has always had a habit of dampening my clothes just enough to intensify the bitterness of the air until it is maddening. And, rather than declare the season of joy and fellowship, Christmas lights have only signified a time of frozen extremities and suffocating layers of clothing.
During these long, cruel months, I am motivated each day by only one thing: the sun. Or, to be more specific, I am motivated by apricity, which is the warmth of the sun during winter. I am in awe of its natural brilliance, grateful for the strength it provides during the winter months and in love with the story of how I came to know it.
I was familiar with the feeling of apricity before I knew what to call it. When I was in the second grade, I would travel the five blocks to and from school by foot every morning and afternoon. These walks introduced me not only to my profound distaste for the winter months but also to the term which I have grown so fond of — “apricity.”
During one of the most dreadful afternoons I had endured that winter, I noticed a small bird that was almost completely obscured by snow and the darkness of nearby shadows. It only managed to produce a few meager squeaks as I passed by, but that was enough to provoke me to stop and attempt to help.
As I searched feverishly for a way to uncover the bird without touching it with my hands, the frail, elderly woman who walked me across the intersection each day approached. The woman promptly moved the bird from beneath the shadow of a tree and onto a small patch of clear sidewalk in the sun.
Because I had to go home, it was not until the next day that I learned that the bird had survived. When I asked how she had saved it, the woman replied, "It wasn't me; it was the sun."
For years following this experience, however, I was unaware of the existence of the name for that warmth I had felt. With only simple words such as "warm" and "perfect" in my vocabulary, I often found myself frustrated when trying to describe my experience. It was not until I was fifteen years old that I finally stumbled upon the proper way to describe that feeling.
During one of my classes at school, I was given the task of naming an island. While searching for possible names, I discovered the word "apricity“ and was completely dumbfounded after reading its definition. There, in dark print, was the word I never knew I needed. I have since fallen in love with that word.
Apricity is not and cannot be artificially made. The warmth given off from a clunky space heater is nothing compared to the delightful sensation that the word defines, nor is apricity equivalent to the sunburnt feeling one gets after reclining in a tanning bed.
One could argue that the sensations I have just described are incredibly pleasant — and they would not be mistaken — but anyone who has experienced the hope that apricity brings along with its characteristic ethereal feeling of warmth would understand why those sensations are hardly comparable. Comparing apricity to a space heater is impractical because apricity offers something that warm blankets and heated seats do not: perpetuation.
Apricity is more permanent, long-lasting and deeper. It doesn’t rely on a fickle or weak source of warmth but the eternal, powerful sun. It represents more than a feeling: it is an idea of survival and life in the midst of struggle and darkness.
To me, apricity is a treasured, priceless gift: a beautiful name tag for the sensation I had been so desperate to identify. It is my favorite word not only because it defines much more than the simplistic feeling of warmth but also because of how I discovered it.
The word is my beacon of hope during times of struggle. When life appears too difficult to bear, I only need to remember to search for the sunshine that the world always has to offer.
Ashlyn Peralta is a junior from Levelland, Texas studying Writing Seminars.
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