Tag Archives: weather

how to survive a chicago winter

6 Feb

Right about now is when I get very sick of people bitching about the weather.

Yes, I know it’s cold.

Yes, I realize there is snow on the ground.

Yes, I understand that it’s still cold, and more snow is (probably) on the way.

You do realize this is Chicago, right? And that happens here? Winter happens here? It does. It happens every year. Some years are worse than others. But no matter how you shovel it, Winter Happens In Chicago. This is not new and it is not news.

Therefore, you have two options: 1) Shut up about the weather and how much you hate it, or 2) Move to Florida or another warm weather-centric state.

I realize that option #2 may not be possible. Maybe you have a job here that you love. Or your kids are in the middle of a school year. Or you’re incarcerated. In that case, I offer you three tips on how to survive a Chicago winter for yet another year.

One: Don’t walk east-west between Wabash and Michigan. After much experimenting, I have found this stretch, no matter what street you’re on, is like walking through a wind tunnel. The air off the lake comes barreling down this short block, pushing you and pulling you, and generally bullying you around. Don’t take that shit. If you want to survive this winter, avoid the blocks that run east-west between Wabash and Michigan. You know what, if you can help it, only walk on north-south streets. Or maybe one of the angle streets. Sure, you may end up walking in circles and never quite reach your destination, but at least you won’t be bullied by air.

Two: Stop wearing so many clothes. I know everyone says the key to winter is layers. And layers are fabulous. And layers have all the answers. And layers make the world go ‘round. But you know what? All those layers are going to make you miserable once you get out of the cold and onto the stuffy bus on your commute to work, and you will find yourself stripping off those g-d layers one by sweat-soaked one, panting like a dog with perspiration rolling down your temples because you walked half of a block in all those layers. So take my advice, and yes, wear your down parka or your heavy wool coat, a scarf, a hat, boots, and mittens (because no one likes chapped hands). But underneath, just put on your bathing suit and call it a day.

Three: Look up and stop dragging your feet. Listen, I know you’re staring at the ground when you walk because you’re afraid of hitting a patch of ice and going ass over tea kettle. I get that. But if you want to survive this winter, stop looking solely at the ground, and look up at the people around you, otherwise you’re going to run straight into someone, knocking either him/her or yourself down into the watery slushy and hence ruining your winter coat (and possibly the bathing suit you should have on underneath). And no one wants a ruined coat, because without the coat you’re just in a bathing suit, and that would be bad when it’s -8. So look up, and look where you’re going.

And furthermore, once you’ve mastered the art of looking where you’re going, make it a compound movement by also picking your feet fully up off the ground when you walk. I get it, I do—snow boots are a lot heavier than regular shoes, and it’s somewhat akin to walking around with weights on your feet, and thus you’re inclined to drag your heels and clomp-shhhhffff-clomp-shhhhhfff down the sidewalk like an emo teen. But by dragging your feet you’re only wearing out the heels of your snow boots faster, which means that halfway through winter your feet are going to start to freeze because of thin heels, and it will make winter feel like it’s lasting that much longer because there is nothing better at slowing time down than freezing puds. By dragging your feet in those boots, you are making winter drag on longer. I’m not saying you have to march around town like a marine, but yes, actually that is what I’m saying.

Hup, two, people. You can make it. I know you can.

photo friday: pretty city

1 Feb

Chicago at Night

There’s a quote from Henry David Thoreau that I’ve been in love with the past few weeks:

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

Most people despise winter, especially winter in Chicago, but these past few weeks? I have been having a feast.

march photo challenge: day eighteen

18 Mar

Today’s theme: STATIONARY

It’s still for now, but the weather has been so uncharacteristically warm lately (re: summer in March) (which, let’s face it, this is Chicago, where schizophrenic weather was invented) (it might snow next week, you never know) (or it could stay in the 80s until October) (hard to say) I will soon pull the bike down from its hanging post in the garage and put it in motion to go toodling around the neighborhood. COUNTRY ROADS BEWARE.

photo friday: shminter

24 Feb

To say that this winter has been mild would be an understatement. The past couple weeks we’ve been in DC have been especially warm, though that hasn’t ended sightings of commuters bundled up in scarves, gloves and hats as they bustle to and fro. Which means that hasn’t ended me rolling my eyes at said commuters and yelling, “It is 50 degrees outside! This is not Antarctica! It’s not even Alaska! Their mountains are much bigger!”

Okay, I didn’t really yell that. Except that one time, at that one girl. But it was in my head, so I don’t think it really counts.

And so now, at the risk of bringing another snowpacolypse down on our heads, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Happy Spring, everyone!

And I swear to God if I see you walking through McPherson Square bundled up like Nanook of the goddamned North I will crack you upside the head.

it’s days like this i wish i’d worn pants

23 Mar

From my office to my train stop it’s about a mile walk. And that’s a mile’s worth of time that my knees turn red with cold, my fingers stiffen, my nose runs, and while I don’t notice it at the time, my ears chill quite considerably, if the burning thaw-out that occurs when I finally enter the warm waiting station is any indication.

Most people moan and complain and fear Chicago winters.

But to be honest, spring is the bitch you need to watch out for.

The problem with a Chicago spring is that you never know which one you’re going to get. There are days like the one we had last week that was bright and cheery and made you want to tear off your pants and run around in your chonies with glee.

And there are days like the ones that remind me of high school soccer practice, when we’ve finally been set loose on the field instead of training in the gym. Those first outdoor practices under a gray sky, kicking the ball around a muddy, soggy field heavily doused with the smell of dewy, humid, budding grass and fresh tree leaves. It was chilly enough to make your nose run, with a splotch of balmy air that made it fine—great, even—to run around in nothing more than a sweatshirt and trackpants in the fading twilight.

And then there are days like today that are that are beyond overcast, that whip winds past you and slice through your clothing like a sharp pair of dressmakers’ scissors. Days that make you seriously wonder about the feasibility of winter—or at least a version of it—actually lasting forever.

A Chicago spring brings out the best and worst in people. A sunny day means sunny people. A day like today will serve up the churlish and annoyed, people wanting to take out their confusion on how to proceed with such weather on someone, anyone, anything. Winter, you see, can be easily handled by adding on another layer. Summer is dealt with by stripping those layers to the bare minimum, and it’s followed by fall, which Chicago very kindly eases into gently, making the transition between two seasons as non-threatening as possible. But spring.

Spring goes for the “HA! HA! MADE YOU LOOK!” followed by a sucker punch to the gut and maybe a shin kick if it’s feeling feisty kind of seasonal change, forcing you to think long and hard about how you’re going to handle and react to the season’s apparent mood disorder on a daily basis.

Or at the very least, it makes you double check the weather forecast for the next day. And seriously reconsider your planned outfit.


disaster preparedness

3 Jan

Dear Capital Weather Gang,

I’m writing to inform you of something very important.

Despite the fact that collectively, among the members of your gang there are tens of years of schooling under your belts, along with twenties of years of experience in reading meteorological maps and systems, and despite all points to the contrary (this being January and all), we will not be getting any snow this winter.

And no, this is not a slam or snarky reference in any way to The Storm that Wasn’t last week that bypassed DC completely, and instead decided to engage New York and Philly in a battle of snowdrifts.

And I’m not writing this to ask you to take me on a whim or to just “trust me” on this one because I’ve got a “feeling” that things just seem “snowless” this winter. No, no, I have a cold, hard, guarantee we will not get any snow this winter, and we will certainly not have another Snowpocolypse like we did last year. And that guarantee is this:

I now own snow boots.

Last year, if you’ll remember, when the skies dumped so much snow on the area a snowplow broke down on the street in front of The Swede’s house, we took to relieving our stir-craziness through gin, baking, and walks through the blanketed neighborhood.

Now, the gin and baking pretty much take care of themselves. But the walking was another issue, seeing as how it meant trudging through three feet of snow, and I owned neither snow boots nor snow pants. I sucked it up on the pants issue, and went old school on the boots, improvising my way to dry feet, not wanting the getting out of the house to be a pipedream of an idea.

And then came Alaska, where they wear nothing BUT snow boots and grizzly bear furs all year long. I borrowed boots from Captain Deb, then bid the boots goodbye before I hopped the plane back to the Mid-Atlantic.

After all of that, I kept thinking to myself that I should get me some of those snow boots. You know. Just in case.

So for Christmas, I carefully perused the L.L. Bean catalogue, picked out the pair I wanted, passed the information to my mom, and then pretended to be surprised on Christmas morning when I opened up a pair of wool-lined zip boots, size 9.

I wore the boots pretty much every day from the time I got them until we got back to DC. Because of course, before I got them, Chicago had a few inches of snow fall. (Once I had them in my possession, no more snow fell.) It also averaged 12 degrees, at which point I wanted to shake the hand of the person who invented wool lining.

But now that my boots and I are back in DC, Capital Weather Gang, you can put away your snow charts and your Farmers Almanacs, because there will be no snow.

I’m prepared for a blizzard.

Therefore we will have nothing but dry skies.

It’s not a theory (conspiracy or otherwise) that I have, it’s just the cold, hard facts of my life: If I am prepared, the preparation will be in vain. To the opposite end, if I’m not prepared, well, obviously we got the answer to the question of what happens then last February.  (Similarly, “unpreparedness” also answers the question of why I did so poorly in Honors World History my freshman year of high school. And consequently, why I now know appallingly little about World History. Though I can at least tell you that many historical world events? ALSO HAPPENED BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE UNPREPARED.) (Ergo, I am living history.) (Wait…what?) (Nevermind.)

I’m sorry to take your jobs away from you, Capital Weather Gang, and I’m sorry to disappoint school children everywhere who were looking forward to a snow day. (Though to their parents: You’re welcome.) Think of this not as me usurping your power as Weatherpeople, but as me giving you a gift, the gift of time. Now that you can rule out any semblance of snow for this winter, you’ll have LOADS of free time on your hands. Think of all the books you can read! Or you could learn to make flan! Think of the vacations you can take—especially since you won’t have to worry about flight delays at Reagan due to snow! Though it is true you’ll now have to head out to Colorado or maybe up to Vermont if you want to partake of any skiing. Sorry ‘bout that. But what can I do? I didn’t ask for this power to control the weather, it was just bestowed upon me.

So if you wouldn’t mind, help me out in alerting the DC Metro area about this change in weather conditions for the next few months. I’ll try getting on the local news and calming the public fears about another snowtastrophe, and you guys should run something in that paper of yours.

Let’s use our collective weather powers for good, Capital Weather Gang.




deception, in a good way

14 Apr

Is deceptive, really, this weather.

Was quite warm last week. Quite warm. Almost too warm for This Girl. But not too warm, thankfully. It was just right. It was perfect for this:

And now it’s gone back to chilly. Sunny, but chilly.

So it’s deceptive, really.

Because when you look out the window, it makes you think of this

and this.

But it’s not quite that. It’s almost that. But not quite.

Thankfully, though, it’s not still this

or this.

Because I’ve had enough of that at the moment. So for now, I lurv what I do have. And look forward to this:

The end.