February 2, 2011

#21 Blizzard

Some of you might be surprised that I'll be posting a "sunrise" pic today. The weather here is almost unbelieveably bad. I made the mistake of trying to get to the music building this morning despite the fact that classes had been cancelled. I was sure my key card would allow me access and that I'd be one among many other intrepid instrumentalists who had braved the storm to make it to a practice room. Alas...when I swiped my card the door remained locked...and though a pause in the weather had made my walk to school bearable--almost fun--the storm was starting to pick up again...and now I would have to walk home.

I battled my way to Chicago Ave., the main thoroughfare, and walked in the middle of the street to avoid having to trudge through a 1 1/2 foot snowpack and the occasional waist-high drift piled up on the sidewalk. Visibility was frighteningly poor and I kept my eyes open against the gale and stinging snow to watch for any lights emerging out of the whiteness that would signal an oncoming giant snowplow in my lane.

On my way in, I'd noticed that Peet's coffee shop was one of the few businesses that had managed to open for the snow day and decided that, high-priced froofy beverages aside, for my own safety I'd better make a pit stop. I stumbled in, brushed off, and asked a guy behind the counter to make me something warm. So here I sit sipping a white-chocolate caramel latte and talking to you.

Earlier this morning things were much more fun. I woke to a 6:11 alarm and looked outside. My heart sank when I realized the logical error I made when I put off moving my car to the legal side of the street last night. Now I'd have to shovel through feet of drift to move my car and avoid getting towed. Ugh!

I don't own a shovel so I looked around my studio for anything that might help me expedite the unpleasant task that lay ahead. I grabbed a little stew pot, suited up in my layers and boots, and headed out into the continuing gale. The drifts piled up around the door were thigh high--an entertaining situation at first and I bounded out to my snow covered car with a grin on my face to size up the situation.

I was basically screwed. Even if I could shovel out my car, the middle of the street was unplowed and it was clear that if I tried to drive anywhere my cute little yaris would promptly get stuck. I noticed I wasn't the only car left on the wrong side of the road and figured there might be some safety in numbers. I trudged back inside and searched out the Evanston snow hotline (something I should have done right off the bat) to see if I could get any helpful information.

To my surprise and delight a man picked up after the first ring. There had been numerous stories on the news about stranded drivers abandoning their cars all over the city and being taken by emergency personnel to warming shelters. This poor hotline operator awake and in the office at 6:30 am was likely sitting at the ready expecting desperate calls from people in trouble. He assured me that my car would be fine. It's such a mess, the plows aren't even going to start plowing the side streets until tomorrow. This was excellent news! My car is parked on the side of the street designated for odd numbered days: Monday was the 31st, Tuesday was the 1st, today nobody cares, and tomorrow (when the plows will likely get going in my neighborhood) is going to be...da, da, da, DAAAA...the 3rd! I wish I could say this stroke of parking genius was conscious on my part.

I looked at my watch and realized I'd still have time to make it to the lake shore for sunrise if I just walked down Main, so I suited up once more, grabbed my camera and headed out.

This is the alley on the south side of my building...

This next scene may have been my favorite part of the whole morning. Just before reaching lake shore park, I stopped to watch an AAA tow-truck operator transform his flat-bed truck into a snow plow. He lowered the bed as though to upload a vehicle and backed down the street pushing a great pile of white stuff behind him. As he rounded the corner and passed me he rolled down his window and yelled "Hey! I'm a snowplow!" and then laughed this big wonderful belly laugh as though he was a 10 year old pushing piles of sand around with a toy dump truck.

When I reached the park and emerged from the comparative shelter of house-lined streets I was immediately hit by a terrific gale coming straight off the lake. I met another intrepid photographer who said as he passed, "Not as bad as I thought it would be!" Hmmm...I don't know what he had been expecting.

And here ya go...somewhere out there the sun is shining.

At this point it wasn't snowing that much, but as I walked home the wind continually whipped up giant tornadoes of dry snow and sent them whirling down side streets like angry genies let out of their lamps. All this ferocious drifting action created some great photo opportunities...

And here's a shot of my street. My car is the third one on the left.

Well, I'm still stranded at the coffee shop. The weather outside hasn't let up one bit. I'm trying not to freak out about my forced day off from the horn...especially 'cause I supposedly have a lesson tomorrow, a concert on Friday, and two full days of recording this weekend. Maybe I should have brought my horn home last night...oh well...I'll bet all my neighbors are infinitely grateful I didn't!


  1. GEEZE!!!! What a day! Great pics. It was fun to have such a long chat with you today. I miss our walks and talks.

  2. Guess I should stop complaining about Salt Lake...