Life in the MMU Seasonal Siege Bunker


What drove us inside. Sun  sparkles on some drifted winter snow near Basile Hall late some December afternoon. Looks pretty. It's very cold.

What drove us inside. Sun sparkles on some drifted winter snow near Basile Hall late some December afternoon. Looks pretty. It’s very cold.

A cartoon in last week’s Mount Mercy Times caught my eye. It was a cross-section of the MMU tunnel, showing students walking underground. The title was something about “Discovery Channel Visits MMU,” and the caption described the MMU student as a species that stays underground until spring.

Welcome to winter life under the hill. It arrived with brutal Artic winds that have driven us to the mine shafts. Like many schools, MMU has a system of tunnels originally built to carry steam pipes from place to place. Unlike at some other schools, the MMU tunnels are accessible to the common person—staff, faculty member, student—who wants to avoid the biting seasonal breezes. Even where newer buildings were built with their own HVAC systems—thus needing no steam lines to central boilers—the new MMU tunnels provide conduits for data cables and winter walkers.

We’ve retreated inside. So long squirrels, see you next year.

Traffic in the tunnel near Regina Hall.

Traffic in the tunnel near Regina Hall.

The MMU tunnels do provide, at least, some variety. There are the new sections, where students annually sign their names during orientation, leading to the gym. There is the ancient line leading into Warde Hall, which feels a bit like one imagines a tunnel should—old pipes dripping decaying insulation, dark walls, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! There is the “Get Smart” section—the newish area leading into the library, where the clanging doors echo the loudest. I think of it as the “Get Smart” section because the look of it and the sound of the banging metal doors remind me of the opening sequence of the 1960s TV show.

The old school tunnel near Warde Hall. The fifth season? Time to hide underground.

The old school tunnel near Warde Hall. The fifth season? Time to hide underground.

The annual retreat to the bunker came a bit early this year, with January cold making a guest appearance in December. I’ll be happy when the winter finally wanes. I’ll be glad when I can again enjoy the sun. Even if we just get a few days in the upper 20s, bunker, I’ll abandon you.

But, when the wind chill is below zero and the fluffy white stuff is moving in drifts, it is nice to have the option of the subterranean life.

Here’s to you, steam tunnels!

"Get Smart" section near library.

“Get Smart” section near library.

Warde Hall bike rack, sans bike. Francis, where are you?

Warde Hall bike rack, sans bike. Francis, where are you?

 

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