Things Chicago Winters Have Taught Me

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, so while I’ve experienced the temperatures we’re getting during this polar vortex before, I didn’t feel winter the way I do now. I took for granted the brisk walk from the front door to a freezing car that eventually warmed up and became hot. I came to expect that all sidewalks were shoveled and usually salted. The worst thing I could complain about were bad drivers on the road.

Moving to Iowa was the first time I realized people don’t salt the road before it snows (or at all). They put sand on most roads and cars in the ditch along I-80 were common. Then came city living. Chicago has taught me a number of lessons, but the winters with their “wintry mixes” and “thundersnow” have taught me:

1. The best gifts in life are practical. My winter coat and various boots have all been gifts from family and Joe. I cherish them more than any piece of jewelry, nice dinner or trip. My coat is the the barrier between myself and frost bite. My boots come from multiple varieties, all with a very important purpose.


  • Sorel – For the coldest days, shoveling snow or walking in wet snow.
  • Tretorn – The best all-around boot. It’s good for everything from rainy days to the messy sidewalks of the city after a snowfall. Best of all it’s furry inside for warmth.
  • Ugg – Ugly, warm and comfortable. These are one of two pairs of shoes I’m taking to Europe. Lord help me.

2. Mind the gap. Err just don’t stand so close to the curb unless you want to risk disgusting street water being splashed up so high it hits your face. On a particularly rainy day, I was so hypnotized by my phone that a CTA bus hit a pot hole full of slush in front of me and it splashed all over my hair, face and white shirt. Side note: if you ever see this happen to someone, don’t be an asshole–offer them a tissue/napkin.

3. Invest in a good ice scraper and shovel. Anyone who keeps a car in the city understands there are certain truths you must accept. Your car will get covered in salt. You will clean off your car again and again. You will get stuck sometimes unless you’re driving a tank. This winter I’ve burnt plenty of rubber trying to get the Celica out of iced grooves in the street and curb. Every little bit of tool helps, even the kitty litter.

Anything you can’t live without this winter?


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