Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winter's Coming! Whee!

by Barbara D'Amato

I get exasperated with TV news anchors who turn to the meteorologist and say, “Don’t tell me we’re going to get any of that nasty white stuff.” I like snow.

No, I don’t ski. Not downhill and not cross-country. You might as well nail boards to my feet.

But I like things to happen. The glory of Chicago weather is that it’s always changing. It’s not boring.

When I was a child, we used to visit my mother’s uncle and aunt in Florida. No matter what time of year we went, it was always the same. Warm, maybe afternoon rain. Warm, maybe afternoon rain. Warmmaybeafternoonrainwarmmaybeaft— Okay, in the summer I guess it was warmer and buggier. With maybe afternoon rain. It was boring.

The upper Midwest is the hardest place on earth to predict the weather.

I’m not a masochist. I have memories of going to classes at Northwestern in Evanston, parking the car on the lakefront in blizzards and walking to campus in sleet storms. I’d get there with a turtleshell of ice on my back. It wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t boring, either.

Now that I don’t go out to work, I can choose my weather to walk in, but there is still nothing as wonderful as walking in that first fat falling snow.

Ninety degree days with hundred per cent humidity are less fun. They make me feel sluggish and stupid, but they are a change.

The only weather that actually frightens me is the occasional extremely high wind. Jeanne Dams, Mark Zubro and I were walking back from the Newberry Library when that big wind hit—the wind that blew the scaffolding off the Hancock Building and killed several people. There was siding and glass and insulation shooting past, and we huddled in a hotel lobby for a while.

Some years ago I was out walking in a very high wind and foolishly had my jacket open. The wind picked it and me up like a sail and dropped me on my back.

But still it was an event.

Chicagoans –you who complain about the weather—is Chicago compulsory? Or do you really like our weather? My guess is that most Chicagoans have a sneaking affection for it that they don’t want to admit to.

Tell the truth, now. Do you HAVE to live in Chicago?


R.D. Ray said...

I have lived in Chicago for 20+ years and I love it, but I have lived in Minneapolis (more extreme yet as regards cold), in Austin, Texas (much hotter), and on a tropical island where I wore shorts to work for two years. I can cope with any of it, and given my druthers, I'll take the tropics. Boring? Is going to the beach on New Year's Day boring? I think not. It's all good, but some things are better.

RD Ray

Dana King said...

I lived in Chicago for three and a half years, and loved every minute. I've never lived anywhere with nicer summers. (Chicagoans complain about humidity. I've lived in Atlanta, and have lived near Washington DC for about 20 years. I don;t want to hear about Chicago's humidity.) I've ridden the el when the hand holds had ice on them, and thought it an adventure, well worth it when I'd remember the summer breeze off the lake.

lauraldavis1 said...

I love Chicago weather. I love the newness of every season. I love the beauty that comes with the first snow fall, with the changing leaves, with the first shoots of green making their way out of the flower bed. I love fully experiencing the weather as I walk to and from work. And, I love that, given time, things will continue to change and morph and I will discover new things to love about that season.

Kevin Smith said...

I spent about four years in Florida, and I always felt like someone was asking me to go to work during my vacation (the exception being any of the seven hurricanes that passed through while I was there). It never felt real, not like Chicago, and the weather was part of the problem. When people are talking about week 12 in the NFL and it's 80 degrees out, I get confused...and passing a Salvation Army bell ringer wearing cargo shorts and smelling of sunscreen doesn't help.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Thank you all. It's so nice to be agreed with. I have a couple of family members who live in warm climates whose attitude is "What are you, nuts?" They are willing to visit in summer.

Laura Caldwell said...

I was with a group of people last night, everyone groaning about the Chicago weather. It reminded me of people who complain about a family member, grumbling, "he's never going to change." Exactly! Well, sort of. Chicago is never going to have stable weather. It's always going to be the magnificent clashing with the brutal. We've got to accept it, people. Maybe we should start support groups? Get people to stand up and say out loud that they are a Chicagoan and they accept the weather, damn it.