November 22

To Each Her Climate

Every time I post on social media a picture of snow, it never fails to yield disparaging comments from people who don’t like cold weather. Many feel the need to tell me the temperature where they live as if there’s a contest and whoever lives in the warmer climate wins. “I just don’t know how you can live there,” is a frequent comment. I’m not sure what to say when customers call and say things like, “This is Ann Smith calling from Phoenix, Arizona. You’re in Chicago right? It’s 85 degrees here! Hahaha! What’s it there? Oh you poor thing!” This happens more often than you can imagine. It’s happened three times this weekend alone because word got out that, OMG, a big snowstorm came through Chicago. As if a snowstorm is akin to a hurricane or tornado.

What these people don’t realize is that I wasn’t raised here. I was raised outside of Washington DC in a milder climate. I dreaded coming to Chicago for Bill to go to graduate school because I used to fear Chicago winters too. We stayed after Bill graduated even though neither of us has any family here because there are many wonderful things about living here.

I love that we can walk or bike to restaurants, the library, movie theaters, shops, schools and doctors’ offices. Our town has ethnic, racial and socio-economic diversity that is rare for a town of 52,000. I can walk half a mile to get on the el that takes me to downtown Chicago in 20 minutes to Broadway shows, world-class museums and beautiful Lake Michigan. The housing stock in our town is made up of historic homes that are full of charm and timeless character. Within two miles of our home there are 8 grocery stores! It’s a unique place to live.

And yes I have come to be fond of Chicago winters. I look forward to the wonderful workout I get shoveling snow. We can cross-country ski for free two miles from our house. There’s a wonderful new ice skating ribbon about to open that winds through a park on Lake Michigan. There are family snowball fights and sledding outings. Our studio manager, who is from Minnesota, walks every morning of the year, unless it’s lightning. She says, and I totally agree with her, that being outside in the winter changes your mindset about weather. It makes you realize that most of the time, if you’re dressed for it, weather isn’t something to overcome. It’s wonderful when it’s nice but no big deal when it isn’t. Sometimes the cold gets tiresome, but so does hot weather and droughts. It’s about #237 on my list of concerns in life although the occasional mid-winter teaching gig in Florida or California is certainly a nice change of pace as well.

So I don’t really appreciate it when people make disparaging comments about the weather in the city I’ve chosen to call home. We like it here. If we didn’t, we’d move. You don’t need to live here if it’s not for you. We may not always live here but for now it’s home. I’m delighted that you enjoy where you live but please, all you winter-haters, don’t assume that we’re miserable because you don’t like cold weather. Because to us, there’s so much more to our city than can be measured on a thermometer.