Long before I became a Chicagoan, I was a a Region Rat, having grown up in the Calumet region, also known as northwest Indiana. I’ve endured winter weather that would send someone from a warmer climate packing in no time. I lived through the blizzard of 79, notable only that it was so bad we didn’t go to church. I can remember years in grade school where we didn’t have outside recess for months. We also got to wear pants to school instead of our plaid uniform skirt, which was a huge change in protocol back then. I have to say though this winter is unbelievable.
A peek at AccuWeather doesn’t tell the tale well but if you look at the lows it gives you a hint. Too bad the highs they show were mostly there at midnight before the temp started dropping. We’ve been smart, stocking the house with food, keeping the car gassed up, not going anywhere unless absolutely necessary, like work but it is brutal. I feel like I’m bundling up for snowboarding every morning just to go to work. Long wool socks, long johns, jeans, boots then on top camisole, thermal shirt, another shirt then a sweater on top. On top of all that a long down coat, hat, scarf and gloves. I’m starting to feel like Ralphie from a Christmas Story. My daughter, should she be required to venture out with daddy, is lucky to have winter boots that are rated to -10, along with a snow suit and snow pants. Just keeping her mittens on her hands and her face covered is a challenge. There is no reasoning with toddlers about frostbite.
Even worse than the cold has been the snow. It seems like every other day we get more snow. It wouldn’t be so awful if my neighbors followed the law in Chicago and shoveled their sidewalks. It used to be that no one wanted to shovel the sidewalk because if you didn’t and someone fell and got hurt they couldn’t sue because snow is an act of God. That changed with Rahm taking office. Now you have to shovel or take the chance of a ticket. If you’re unable to you can request help from a volunteer. From what I’ve seen this winter the tickets should be flowing to the tune of a cash surplus for the city. Or it could pay for all the gaping pot holes out there. There are ones on Halstead up north that are almost as big as my car.
We also have a furniture problem out on the street. It used to be that if you dug it out you staked your claim on the spot. Now there is mostly just half rutted out spots with lawn furniture thrown on top. I used to think it was becoming just a Bridgeport thing but my coworkers have informed me the practice is alive in well in Portage Park too.
But honestly the scariest thing this winter have been the road conditions. Black ice, regular ice, drifts, lake effect, sub zero temps that salt does not work in. It is dangerous out there. I do a fair amount of driving in Indiana and I’ve never seen the roads so bad there. Coming back from east of Gary last week on 80/94 after it had been snowing lightly all day was a white knuckle ride for sure. I really don’t believe any plows had been out in hours. All that you could see were tire tracks. The roads improved once we got back into Illinois but by then we’d given up and decided on cutting over to Lake Shore drive which was clean and salted. My husband swears the nasty roads in Indiana is because they don’t install snow fences anymore but I think they are too cheap to run the plows. Just my opinion.
So when the polar vortex dips down over the country again later this week with temperatures of -10, I’ll be thinking positive that it is the last time this winter. We all hope.