Dragging my right leg beside me in a large circle in the snow and wobbling back and forth like a penguin, my lungs clenched in the cold air I was panting in. My fingers, ears, and thighs felt like frozen Laffy Taffy, and I wondered if my hot chocolate, buried in the knee-deep snow several feet away, was no longer hot. 

“You need crops for crop circles,” said senior and Applied Mathematics major Alex Venuti as he and his younger brother, sophomore and Biochemical Engineering major Jack Venuti, trudged along behind me, looking similarly incapable of kinesthetic motion. 

Alex’s statement was in reference to the faulty comparison made by some UR students of his and his brother’s snowy productions to “crop circles.” Alex and Jack Venuti have attracted the public eye with the several large-scale circular patterns which can be seen scattered across open snow – covered fields and hills around campus.

These patterns, befuddling to the campus population, appear sometimes as large as twenty feet across. They can most often be described as spirals, although according to the Venutis, concentric circles are also an option.

I was given the profound privilege of joining the brothers in the creation of one of their circular masterpieces, specifically the one that can be spotted from Sage Art Center or outside of Susan B. Anthony Dining Hall, partially on a slant in the ground. The Venuti brothers agreed that forming the circle on a slant was best because it accentuated the imagery of the spiral. 

After picking a spot with a large amount of open space and no footprints, the three of us got to work. Looking about himself, Jack observed, “It’s quite snowy out.”

The process begins, once the proper spot has been chosen, by side-stepping toward the intended center of the circle. (The boys and I chose to create a spiral). By stepping in each preceding foot print, one allows for his or her path leading up to the creation to be hidden by the impending pattern. 

Once the intended center is reached, the brothers kindly directed me to plant my left foot, and walk around in a small circle, dragging my right foot next to me. Then, I placed my left foot in the newly-created circle, and used my right foot once more to go around again. The Venuti borthers followed suit, placing their feet in my already-created spirals, and we began the process. 

The Venutis first made the circles in the sand on a beach in Connecticut during their younger and more innocent days. “Digging holes and making circles in the sand…” Alex said. “Yeah… good times,” Jack added, looking nostalgically off into the distance.

Alex revisited this practice in sixth grade on a soccer field during recess. 

“In the middle of the winter what are you gonna do on a soccer field when it’s covered in snow?” he asked. 

Exploring the social benefits of walking repeatedly in circles, Alex said his classmates used to join the effort.

The brothers agreed that other than these occasional excursions, the circles were never a part of their average routine. Alex allegedly made a few connecting circles behind Sue B. his freshman year, but he said no one noticed. It wasn’t until reading period last semester that the Venutis gained recognition for their special talent. 

On Dec. 12, someone posted a photo on Reddit of the younger Venuti creating a giant spiral on the UR baseball field. The post by TurnTwo read, “Defeated by finals week, this kid was on the baseball field at 2:30am making crop circles.”

Some notable comments read:

“How do you know he’s defeated? How do you know this ISN’T his final? Crop Circles 295.” –5Alive

“I remember the first time I ate mushrooms, too.” –willis203

“Gotta do something to burn off the rest of that Adderal.”

–ishouldprobablybedoing

somethingmoreproductive

The picture also appeared on Tumblr, with the post reading, “Dude, it’s going to be alright.”

Jack explained that on that particular night, he had gone on a run at midnight on the track, and around 1am he noticed the temptation of the giant, untouched baseball field. He said he didn’t expect anyone to see him, and the circle would be gone by morning anyway. 

But before nature removed the giant not-crop circle, someone took a picture from a window and shared Jack’s efforts with the World Wide Web.

Jack described another instance. “I was just gonna go to Hillside and get like, I don’t know, a bottle of juice or something,” he said. He said he then noticed how nice the snow was and proceeded to create about thirteen more “designs.”

Aside from the construction, what interests people most about the several circles formed by these anonymous artists is their motivation. 

The Venuntis have somewhat differing views on this. Alex said when people ask him, he likes to come up with new and interesting answers.

“It’s about messing with people,” Alex said, laughing. Some of his choice responses to the question, “Why?” thus far have been, “To find the right question,” and “Introspection will lead you to the answer.”

Jack is more about losing himself in the moment and clearing his head. He responded to questions on Reddit, “I like to do it because it’s quite relaxing and fun. And it looks nice, too. Sometimes when you see a big untouched snowfield, you just can’t resist!” Later, he told me, “It’s a good way to take a break from life for a while, you know?”

The Venuti boys have experience with other athletic activity, besides recreational circling. They are both members of the UR Quidditch team. 

Alex shared an anecdote about his first time playing, freshman year. He was the snitch, and someone tackled him into the track. “Snitches get stitches,” added Jack. Alex showed me the small, somehow familiar scar on his forehead from the incident.

According to the Venutis, all but one of the designs, as far as they knew are their doing. One, however, was made post-midnight by “Kyle”, who walked by during my interview with the Venutis. They excitedly called over the mysterious Kyle, who was in a hurry. Once he walked away, I was informed that they do not actually know Kyle, but found him one night circling the baseball field. 

The interview over, Jack nonchalantly climbed a few trees, and then plopped himself onto his back in some knee-deep snow and sighed, “College is a great place.”

McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.



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