There is a famous quote familiar to Chicagoans “If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes and it will change.”

This has been life in “the stinking onion” for the last couple of weeks.

In just a couple of days, the temperature has gone from wind chills of -30 to almost 50 degrees. Within that time period there was the snow – about 2 feet fell from the heavens and buried us in a weeks’ time. The “city of big shoulders” stooped, struggling under the weight of it for two days. Only to be outdone…by the rain, which came next in steady buckets, shutting down city underpasses. And, over the course of one night, about 7 or 8 inches of snow disappeared, and we were on flood watch. (Is anyone getting dizzy? I can barely keep up myself!) As I watched the news on Tuesday, the forecast – started with rain, changed to an icy mix, followed by snow, high wind (of course) and occasional claps of thunder, (are you kidding me?) then a deep, (not quite Chi-beria) deep freeze. Thankfully, none of it happened, except for the part where we plunge into a deep freeze. A deep icy freeze I might add, no fun for walkers.

Moral of the story in “the big windy” – planning to walk outdoors can be very challenging.

Ahhh…but that’s why we love it…the hellacious challenge. (I looked up hellacious, just for kicks, guess what it means…remarkable; horrifying; wonderful; formidable. Uh-huh, that’s Chicago weather alright)

On the upside, Monday was like spring- a gift, the best reason to live in the moment in Chicago. It was the day when the temperature hovered around 45 degrees, and by mid-afternoon the sun came out in a big, yellow burst of invitation.

All I wanted to do was to get outside and walk.

Once I finally arrived outdoors, I heard birds. Yes, my ears were treated to a symphony of birds; chirping and tweeting and filling the vacuum of winter with their flutelike melodies. As I walked along I could also hear the tinkling and dripping from icicles, glittering in the sunshine. Melting overflow from snow packed gutters ran in rivulets through the streets and alleys, trickling along like streams in the mountains.

The air had the smell of cool, clean freshness on a gentle breeze and my face felt the warm heat of the sun, not faint, but direct and intentioned.

My feet had all the work, maneuvering around leftover ice and slushy snow piles, but this engaged my brain to navigate a safe path. When it was safe to look up -my eyes beheld the spectacular majesty of a cardinal. Who could miss it? In a sun tinted black and white world, boasting a deeper red than the bows on the used up christmas trees laying by the curb. It sat still and perfect, in silence on a snow covered branch. Such beauty. Such peace.

That was Monday, and my walk filled my soul with some ‘way too early’ hope of Spring.

I know, I know “wait 15 minutes and…”

cardinal in the snow

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