Ways to Enjoy Your Blizzard

IMG_2172I’m always very skeptical when meteorologists start screeching on the screen — leaping around the news set with their eyes so wide open they look like dessert plates. It’s probably owing to the fact that for the entire season of winter — that’s roughly November through March for this part of the world — they insist on coating the map with multicolored levels of warnings and advisories. Maybe it’s my somewhat independent nature, but I find it annoying to be hounded by constant reminders of the obvious: it is winter… I am forevermore advised of that, thank you.

So, you can imagine the swirling motion of my rolling eyes when they started stirring up rumors of an approaching BLIZZARD. While I’ve never been through a blizzard, personally (I grew up far south of the Mason-Dixon line), I do know that northern meteorologists can quickly turn flurries or snow into a blizzard about as fast as southern meteorologists can turn a thunderstorm into a writhing mass of tornadoes and the wrath of our Lord. In other words, I seldom believe anything they say to me unless the radar happens to support what they’re saying.

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My skepticism and smug disbelief was soon wiped away, however, revealing an excited southern-born midwesterner who was secretly hoping all of the blizzard hype was true. And — as nature would have it — we finally got that blizzard on Tuesday night.

The wind was torrential and howling outside our windows for the entire evening. The streetlamps below were scarcely visible amid the snow-filled wind gusts that blew past. Illuminated by the yellowish street lamps, the snowy gusts looked like so many powdery ghosts swirling past us and heading off to who knows where, sped along by the wind and guided by the concrete caverns of the city.

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The howl of blizzard winds was not unlike the howling hurricane winds that I experienced growing up. Somehow, though, I slept much better during the blizzard. This may’ve been because I was pretty sure our roof was not going to IMG_2184be ripped away like the top of a to-go cup. Or, maybe it was also because our apartment was not full of snoring relatives who were also riding out the storm!

No, the blizzard was a completely different meteorological creature. Safe inside our heated haven, it was hard to feel threatened by the howling wind and swirling snow. Oddly, the contrast of outside to inside may’ve somehow added a level of gratitude to the evening which made me sleep even more soundly. That, or it was the giant pot of Chicken & Sausage Gumbo that I’d made in celebration and defiance of the cold!

The next day, we awoke to snowdrifts in the streets and sidewalks — the storm knew no boundaries, leaving heaps of snow wherever it wished. Inside our mailbox vestibule, I was surprised to find a foot of snow! “Snow inside!” I must’ve exclaimed.

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Overnight, our balcony had been transformed from a has-been garden to a work of wintry sculpture and “found art”. The snow had stacked itself on top and wrapped itself around any available surface no matter how skinny or unlikely.

James and I decided it was time to christen the new snowshoes he’d purchased for this very occasion. I bought snowshoes two years ago as a means of getting some exercise in the winter months when it’s sometimes too treacherous to walk or hike. James, who lives and loves to accessorize, however, bought not only snowshoes but ski poles to complete his ensemble. Very dashing indeed. Here is James demonstrating how one falls while carrying ski poles. Yes, I did help him up (after I snapped the picture).

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We decided to walk through the town on our way to the golf course which was sure to be nose deep in powdery, white snow. The streets were almost completely devoid of automobiles. There was an eerie, comforting quiet that had overtaken the whole city since feet and paws are always quieter than engines and tires. Though it was still quite windy and very cold, there was a surprising number of people out — some playing in the snow, some walking their dogs, and lots of people digging out their cars which were buried well past their windshields.

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I’ve noticed that — in the city — people tend to avoid talking to strangers, even saying hello in passing. I guess this is owing to the anonymity that city life affords. Somehow, though, the snow which had halted an ordinary winter week and had called everyone out into the streets to play and to face winter’s reality had drawn out the more human side of everyone. There were smiles and nods as we passed by, chuckles and laughs as people discovered just how much time it was going to take to shovel out their cars. For all its inconvenience, I still feel that winter is good for something.

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We made it to the golf course and found it empty save for a few tracks that had been made by cross-country skiers. The snow was deep and fluffy, so our snowshoes still sank in the snow. It was glorious exercise — feeling as though we were trying to run underwater. This golf course is one of my favorite places to enjoy winter — there are so many spaces to stop and experience the simple majesty of snow and ice. One of my favorites is the bridge that crosses the frozen Chicago River.
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The scenery, the exertion, the playfulness and — underneath it all — that welcome quiet that is so often missing. It’s sappy to say it, though nonetheless true, there aren’t that many weekdays in one’s lifetime where you can shrug off your ordinary responsibilities and take off into the wilds with your beloved. These things are to be cherished. Unless you were one of the hundreds who were trapped in their cars late into the night and into the early morning, it was a very beautiful blizzard. Though I risk getting a snowball with a chunk of ice in the middle thrown at me, I have to admit that I’m sad we only get a blizzard about once every ten years.

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~ by Jason on February 3, 2011.

8 Responses to “Ways to Enjoy Your Blizzard”

  1. Where did you order your snow shoes? I think I may actually buy some; the blizzard that made it to you was our THIRD one this winter so far. We are ENTRENCHED in snow.
    (p.s. as always, I love reading your posts)

    • I bought mine from L.L. Bean (so did James). They’re not exactly fancy-schmancy. You can certainly find more expensive models which probably have their pluses over these. But, they do get the job done, that’s for sure. They’re about $80-100 depending on whether or not you find them on sale, and you can order online if there’s not a store in your area.

      (Thanks for reading!)

  2. Oh wow! I love looking at the new pics. They were great and so was the video. I wish everyone could read and see what you write…
    Love ya and Love James so much..
    Miss ya’ll and that white fluffy stuff. 🙂
    Love MOM

  3. Wow, a blizzard. And here we are in the deep south hunkered down waiting for the roads to ice over. With that warning, schools are closed for TWO days…yeah, they seem to have learned the last time when we got 8 inches of snow and it turned the highways into a nightmare of crinkled metal and shards of glass. We southerners surely don’t know how to drive on the icy white stuff.
    I love reading your blogs, your choice of words always makes me smile. I love your literary skills. Love your pictures too. Hope ya’ll stay warm, we are trying to, since we are not used to staying in the “feels like 25” range ALL day. Just this past Friday it was almost 70, sunny and we thought Spring had surely arrived, not without winter rearing it’s ugly head for one last hoorah. We are still waiting on that glorious white, fluffy wonder that we were blessed with the last two winters, only time will tell if we will get a few flurries. Enjoy your blizzard, at least I had a few more days to recover from being ill.

    • I did hear about the ice. Of course, some folks in Louisiana just had “bitter cold”. I am amazed that since I left Louisiana in 2005 there has been more snow than in all the 25 years that I lived there. Shiesh! Ain’t no sunshine when I’m gone, huh? 😛

      We’re definitely staying warm, but making sure we venture outside every chance we get, too — you’ve gotta keep in touch with the outside world, after all. Thanks for reading.

  4. This makes me remember why I grew up in Indiana, but bailed out for the south.

    Jason, You are a wordsmith first class. Like James, you do honor to the English language.

    • I take it you’re not a winter fan, James? Ha! I’m a winter fan until late February every year. By March, I start charting the high and low temperatures to at least make myself feel like we’re making “progress”.

      Thank you for the words of encouragement, and thanks for reading!

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