I’d like a refund please, as I feel there’s been a serious misrepresentation of the season known as ‘winter’ this year in Chicago. When I first considered living in this fair city, I was promised snow. Loads of it. Mounds of it. Mountains of it. Every year without fail. In compliance, our first two winters proved to be satisfyingly cold and white. We appreciated the efforts made to ensure our first experience was a truly memorable one, and the words ‘Polar’ and ‘Vortex’ will forever bring back warm, fuzzy memories. Well, at least fuzzy ones – brain freeze tends to do that to you. And then we had the winter of 2014/15, apparently the 20th snowiest on record, with over 40 inches of the white stuff, compared with a norm of just over 28. A tad less frigid, and no less enjoyable for it.
Now I realise that everyone needed a little break after that, so I didn’t mind when we had a bit of dud last winter. Nothing spectacular, nothing too grizzly bear, more baby bear – wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold, it was just right. And boring.
So I was over the moon back in November to read the forecasts for this ‘winter’. Oh, it was going to be a doozy. We were looking at frigid temperatures, over 50 inches of snow, including a foot that was to be possibly dumped over the Super Bowl weekend. In the end the only thing dumped that weekend were the poor old Atlanta Falcons.
Based on the forecasts, the city went out and bought 25 new shiny salt spreaders, and I’m guessing they’re probably still nice and shiny as a grand total of 0.5 inches of snow fell in January. 0.5 inches! We couldn’t even pinch an inch – we’re officially talking Winter Lite here. It’s so bad there’s some poor soul out there with a snow machine trying to give kiddos something to sledge down. When I read about this, I was amazed for two reasons – you’re having to make snow in Chicago? And there’s a hill big enough to sled down?
Now before anyone chimes in about the snow we had in the run-up to Christmas, I accept that snow totals to date are 18.5 inches, only 3.5 below the comparable norm. But the point is this could be it. I’m looking at the 10-day forecast and the only big numbers I’m seeing are the temperatures – up to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, there’s a token snowflake in there somewhere but it’s mixed with a rain one, and I reckon the snowflake had it written into its contract that it appears a minimum number of times a season. Plus they like to taunt me.
But the reality is there’s no significant snow forecast now right through to February 24. Not that I need to look at a forecast. Because there are birds singing in my ‘winter is over‘ tree. The one that announced spring last year. Except that was in the middle of March. And the squirrels are going nuts, but not about their nuts. Or at least the edible ones anyway.
So what are you going to do about the situation Chicago? What are you going to do with all the 374,000 tons of salt you piled up? That’s a lot of chickens coming home to roost. Or alternatively a lot of salt-crust chickens to bake. I’m not asking for much – I appreciate it’s snow joke when your daily job involves battling through mounds of the white stuff, be it on foot or on wheels. But I’m not asking for daily – just a day. Or maybe two. Because otherwise I’m beginning to feel I’m back in Ireland with all the forty shades of green outside when normally at this stage it would be fifty shades of grey. I’m even thinking about adapting that old joke we have about missing last summer in Ireland because we went to the hairdressers’ that day.
Just think about it, there are children out there who were born in the summer of 2015 who’ve never known what it’s like to be up to their necks in snow (well, they’re only small). To know the joy of a snow-suit so padded that even if they can’t walk yet, they become Superman because they can suddenly stand up all on their own. To experience that moment when, after 3 hours of snowball making and despite anything you may have said, their fingers without warning go from absolutely fine to falling-off-freezing.
Think of those children, Chicago. And the bigger ones. Who like being able to put their beers in the snow on the balcony to chill. Who wake up on the morning of February 14th without a card, but then rush out and draw a heart in the snow. Who spend weeks thinking about what should be this year’s ‘dibs‘ parking spot holder – a Cubs beach chair? that blow-up crocodile pool lounger? A Lego model of the Trump Tower?
There’s still time for you to show your true winter colours, so I’m not giving up on you just yet. All I’m asking for is one good storm, a whitewash, people talking animatedly about going downhill, some getting buried, some getting into fights, others spending all their time checking to make sure nothing important is exposed. Just like the election – only with snow.