Chicago can serve up some hard winters, but the longer I live here, the more I’ve come to like them. Sure, there are bragging rights (I survived the polar vortex!) but like anyplace that has all four seasons, there is something to relish about each.
The surprise of waking up to a snow or ice-covered landscape. The streets and sidewalks are undifferentiated, the parking lots are clear. The colors of buildings stand out against the bright white. Even a cloudy day seems bright because of the reflection off the snow.
The quiet of a snowy day. Cars are immobile white humps, streets are clear and the absence of traffic sounds is odd. Maybe everyone will stay in today, bundled in blankets. But soon we hear snow shovels scraping, the whine of snow blowers, and the rumble of plows clearing the streets and spreading salt behind – yet those sounds are muffled, wrapped in cotton wool.
Venturing out. We feel like arctic explorers as we walk through snow that has no footprints in it yet. We step over drifts blown to surprising heights by the wind. Snow has covered some of the street signs and decorates the sides of buildings. A rolled newspaper sticks out of the snow on a doorstep. Down spouts are sometimes giant ice towers.
Spots of color. Anyone who is outside is covered so that we may only see a part of their face. In addition to voluminous coats, there are orange hats, blue scarves, red gloves, polka dot boots, pink snow suits and the occasional green umbrella. Salted sidewalks may be lilac, and road salt is mixed with beet juice.
A reason to wear sun glasses. After a snowfall, our temperatures drop so that nothing will melt for a while. The skies clear and the sun makes the snow sparkle – you need your shades. I’m glad my moisturizer has sun screen in it.
Getting to wear corduroy pants. One of the perks of winter is layering up – turtleneck, fleece, long underwear, and corduroys. No matter how cold it gets, you can always add a layer (unlike summer when you can only take off so much).
Knowing spring is coming…eventually. If you look closely at the trees, there are the beginnings of buds that will become leaves. Snowbells stubbornly push up through the snow. The calendar moves forward while the temperature yo-yos up and down until finally, the snow melts. Though is may take till July for the mountains in the grocery store parking lot to fully melt away.