12 Gifts of Winter

Welcome to winter, Chicago–you forgot what it’s like, didn’t you?  Well, winter came early this year, JUST LIKE THE FARMERS ALMANAC PREDICTED!!!!!   You may remember I wrote a post about that, back in August, was it? Anyway, it was in the middle of a heat wave. Who wanted to think about snowpants then?!

Well, I already got out my trusty black snowboard pants. And why not, it’s way subzero wind chill and there’s snow on the ground—you bet some people have forgotten how to shovel it, too.

Or, maybe that’s part of the Chicago Way, like claiming parking spaces with card tables and folding chairs.  Oh, yes,winter  is our season. This is what we wait for, even though we don’t want to admit it, even to ourselves. This is what we live for, this is our finest hour! Yes, we are strong, survivors. If you were here in 2011 for the Ground Hog Day blizzard (a/k/a Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon) you will NEVER forget it. Did you shovel snow for days? Me, too!

So, in the spirt of the season, and lists and countdowns, let me present 12 wonderful gifts of winter–

1. snow—the wonder of it, the transformative power of it. Children in the snow. Big dogs romping in the snowdrifts.  This is pure joy of living.

2. shoveling  snow—yes, there are angels!  And, those who take extra care to avoid leaving piles of snow as high as Mt. Everest at the street crossings, thank you, thank you, thank you.

3. real winter boots—No , I don’t mean the wine-red, knee high, pointy-toe spike heel beauties you got on your trip to Italy (or Payless). They’re called dress boots for a reason. Save them for those dress-up situations. What you want in this kind of weather are boots with traction, soles like tire treads on Mars rovers! Boots like that  are worth the investment.  Think of them as an all-terrain vehicle. They will get you where you have to go for winters to come.

 4. going out—it’s an adventure, whether its getting groceries or going to a concert, doing things in the winter  makes you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. And you have! There is planning involved–layering strategy, allowing extra travel time. Commuting to work is a job in itself. Running errands involves itinerary, weight distribution, walking on icy streets, waiting for a bus. Working outside, doing what you have to do–it is  heroic just to carry on. To go out and have fun–that’s real Chicago spirit!

5. not going out-–it’s a luxury—nothing to do, nowhere to go–time, to just sit, read, watch a movie, etc. If you have someone special to share that  doing nothing with (yes, furry friends count!), why go anywhere?

6. layers—face it, when it gets this cold, no one cares what you look like! Snowboard pants are windproof. Knits are warm  and forgiving. Be creative with color combinations, and  don’t forget a hoodie.

7. hockey—Alot can happen in 17 seconds. Play this real LOUD!

8. cashmere—Winters are too long to live without it. But, since much of contemporary fiber is environmentally problematic, go for the thrift-store finds. Incorporate them in your layering strategy. Live in them.

9. sharing the experience—kindness and compassion are seasonless, but  this most challenging season makes people feel a little more generous, it seems. We are in this together. We share heat lamps and an extra pair of gloves. We help each other. Times are tough. Play this song over and over.

10. warm things—a grilled-cheese sandwich, split pea soup, strong coffee, hot tea, blankets, hot running water, furnaces that work. If you are without heat, or know someone in need, call 311 for warming centers.

11. cold clear nights—you can have the moon over Miami. I’ll take the moon over the expressway. Also, the winter constellations.

12. Solstice—the longest night, and the beginning of astronomical winter in the Northern hemisphere. And then, and then, and then, the light increases! Yes, a  little bit more with each passing day. Whatever your spiritual inclination, this is the season of lights, extravagant displays or tiny twinkling lights. Celebrate the returning of the light, and our continuing  journey around the sun…



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  • Clicking back at the Aug. post, the prediction was more for February, but we got it in December.So, is the Almanac predicting worse for February? We'll have to wait. Maybe it is a reflection of that there isn't an El Nino or La Nina, and I remember several winters in the late 70s like this.

    On the warm clothes front, I'm trying to figure out if the ads for reflective clothes are for underwear or coats, but if for coats, I think I will look into that. The only warm coats are the ones sold in sporting goods stores.

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh, Jack! Thanks for paying attention--and taking the time to comment. You are correct--the Almanac long-range forecast was for a cold and snowy winter, with the worst cold in February. Here's the forecast for the Lower Great Lakes, including Chicago--

    "The coldest periods will be in mid to late December, early and mid-January, and early to mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in mid and late December and in late January."

    Not as accurate as Tom Skilling, but pretty close...

    Anyway, seems it's not too early to be getting out the snowboard pants. I did find them at a sporting-goods store (Campmor.com). Without a doubt, those are the best places to find serious winter gear!

  • Thanks, Weather Girl, for another fun list... especially number seven(teen)! I think I'm catching Stanley Cup fever for the second time in a calendar year!

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:


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