'Uncle!' OK, winter of 2021, you win!
Last updated 2/17/2021 at 4:32pm | View PDF
Perhaps you’ve heard the famous Albert Camus quote: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
I appreciate Camus’ message of resilience. Really, I do. But I am not feeling summer, invincible or any other type, within me. This winter — and in particular, this past week — has beaten me.
Our high temps since Saturday have ranged from a mere 5 degrees to 24 on Tuesday, with lows ranging from -2 to 13.
We might get up to 26 today, but the low could drop below zero tomorrow night. We haven’t seen a high above freezing for two full weeks.
And then there’s the snow. Average winter snowfall for Chicagoans is 36.3 inches, and we’re up to 53.4 inches at Midway and 44.2 at O’Hare. Almost 3 feet of that — 34.8 inches, a full winter’s worth of snow — has fallen in the past three weeks, with 12 inches falling in 24 hours this past weekend.
I don’t believe my fitness app is crediting me with the appropriate number of calories (208) for 30 minutes of shoveling I’m doing to create a path for my dog to get out to the backyard. I’m sure I’m burning extra calories as I lift the shovel high over my head to dump the snow onto the giant mountains that surround the deck.
Light snow was expected to fall Wednesday night into Thursday, after we went to press, with more snow on the way on Sunday.
Philosophers and poets have shared their thoughts on this trying season over the years. They seem, like Camus, to be focused on its benefits.
Take Aristotle: “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”
Or Thoreau: “ ’Hear! hear!’ screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, ‘winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it.’ ”
Or Emerson: “The hard soil and four months of snow make the inhabitants of the northern temperate zone wiser and abler than his fellow who enjoys the fixed smile of the tropics.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I feel more like King Richard III, in the winter of my discontent.
Or like Christina Rossetti, whose 1872 poem became the lyrics for one of my favorite Christmas hymns.
“Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Of course, this is not the first bad winter I’ve experienced. Facebook recently called up a photo of Ainsley and me standing next to snow mounds taller than she was during the 2011 Snowmaggedon. Twenty inches of snow fell in less than a day, closing schools, knocking out power for 600 Hinsdale residents and delaying delivery of our paper for a day.
And then there was the Valentine’s Day storm of 1990, with its eight to 12 inches of snow blown into deep drifts by strong northeast winds. My husband spent several hours that day on Lake Shore Drive, trying to get home from work. I spent some time in the home of a lovely couple who lived on Madison, across the street from where my car had skidded into a ditch, waiting for a tow truck.
I must choose to be positive, like Shelley (“O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”). After all, the vernal equinox is only 48 days away.
And I leave for Florida two days after that.
If you can’t beat it, flee it.
— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers
can email her at