Wednesday, February 02, 2011

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How I Spent the Day After Snowpocalypse

When we'd had our fill of local news coverage of Snowpocalypse 2011—they pre-empted "The View," for crying out loud, and what's the point of a snow day if you can't wallow in craptastic daytime TV—we decided to venture out to see for ourselves what havoc the blizzard had wrought.

It was as spectacular as promised, no small feat given the hyperbolic predictions. Our street had yet to be touched by a plow and glistened in the glare of the short-lived sun. We checked on our Honda and then, like most people we encountered, decided to have a little fun before digging out. Fun being a relative term and consisting largely of walking down the middle of Lawrence Avenue.

Where major arteries had been cleared, sidewalks were still thigh-deep in drifts (mad props to Harvesttime for shoveling down to bare pavement), leaving pedestrians to take their chances on normally bustling thoroughfares. Given that most cars were buried, and that most drivers were still suffering PTSD from what will go down in history as the Horror on Lake Shore Drive, Lawrence, Western and Lincoln were all but deserted of automobiles.

On Western, we saw a convoy of plow-salt truck-plow blow through the intersection, passing up a CTA bus struggling to free itself from a snow bank. In Lincoln Square, there were plenty of gawkers, but few businesses open. The Davis Theater, normally an excellent refuge for those afflicted with cabin fever, is closed until Thursday, with snow piled up against the theater's shuttered doors in case anyone got it in their head to rush the popcorn machine. No need to watch "True Grit," anyway, we're living it.

Trekking down side streets, it was impossible to determine the rhyme or reason of the city's snow plowing efforts. Wilson clear, Sunnyside impassable. A few hardy souls were shoveling out their cars, but unless they went all James Bond and turned into airplanes (O'Hare, by the way is open, we learned at this morning's press conference, it's just that there are no flights), it was hard to see where anyone thought they were going.

So where were all the kids? Given Chicago Public School's astounding closure—with a lame duck mayor and an interim school chief, clearly the inmates are in charge of this asylum—I expected to see more than a few little people running wild and building snowmen. But a hike to River Park produced sightings of a lone cross-country skier and a pair of snowshoers—all adults. "They have these things called video games," my husband reminded me of the youngsters.

Have duly borne witness to nature's mighty power, we headed home exhausted. I had insisted on walking through drifts instead of around them, because why not, and I promise you it's the best cardio blast, butt-and-thigh firming workout you'll get all year.


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