What am I Doing in Chicago in Winter?



A big Internet weather service invites each of us to “share your favorite small town weather with” them. Meteorology on the cheap, you might say… eh, I’ll share it with you.

I live in the Chicago metropolitan area — which means we have a B-I-G city named Chicago nearby. “Metropolitan” once had a limited ecclesiastic meaning for “the local patriarchal ordinary among ordinaries” but sounded too good for Madison Avenue to pass up. And, oh, uh, my small town of Hillside is like a wee drop in Chicago’s fifty-five gallon drum; or, maybe you prefer “large beer keg.”

Our weather in autumn is best defined as “groggy.” Even with sun, it feels like we have some invisible cloud cover. The Chicago area gets just too many overcast days when, well, nothing happens except human-esque doldrums. Walking back from church this morning, the weather even made the Host taste off-key. More papery than bready, you know what I mean?

Warm days are definitely gone — it is more like mediocre for a cold day. When it is wet out, only “wet” will do for description; “misty” or “moist” just don’t cut the Chicago mustard. I get a lot of bone chill (aka “rubber-kneed”) and my heart specialist wishes I had a bosom companion in Florida to visit each February, given all the snow-bunny climes that lead “down” from November into February. (Any of you in Florida want me, I’ll hitch down with truckers — interesting sorts in crude, “colorful” and crazy kinds of ways…)

Speaking of which — autumn may be “colorful,” though dulled by near-drought summers of late; however, it reminds of past-summer not nearly as it does impending-winter. Oh, but dear reader, I do have fond memories of those burning leaves polluting our air with a pungent smoke. We had good reasons to feel “cloudy” all season; and choked-up. And, we could watch the smoke go up and get in God’s eyes as revenge for putting our leaves AND our neighbor’s leaves where we had to rake them.

Hey, but if you’re coming to the Chi-town area this coming holiday season, you better be visiting truly Best-Beloved folks. Flying into Chicago during autumn/winter always made me switch from saying “Hail Marys” on my Rosary to “Acts of Contrition.” (My white knuckles got goose bumps with tremors; could even get palpitations of my fingernails.) Only the good Lord (eyes still a bit bloodshot from autumn-leaves smoke) knew what was happening on the ground! Otherwise, take it from a Chicago boy, about fall-into-winter in Chicago: “Turn back! It’s an ambush!”

“Jesus and Mary, I love you, save souls.”

(Warren Jewell is a new contributor to Catholic Excange. If you would like to email him, he is available at wljewell@catholicexchange.com.)

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