Toto, I Don’t Think We’re In Chicago Anymore


Tree Art I happened upon during a walk in lovely Seattle.

While temperatures in Chicago dropped to Antarctic levels this week, I recall the “good old days.”

When I was a working stiff earning  my livelihood as a Temp, I used to cross the Chicago River on below-zero days.  This gave a new meaning to “working stiff.”  It did not matter if you dressed in down from head to foot like the Michelin Man.  The freezing temperatures penetrated every bone and fiber of my being.

But the current polar vortex seems worse than the child’s play of  “lake effect” snow and winds I experienced several decades ago.

Chicagoans today report hearing “frost quakes” — loud booms that geologists call “cryoseisms.”  Think of a bottle of water in the freezer expanding and exploding.  But it’s the frozen Chicago River making the booming noises which some people mistake for gunfire, furnace explosions, or house break-ins.

Do I miss the City of Big Shoulders?

Well…sometimes.  I have family there.  They are hunkering down, making jokes about it:  “The Lake Street El is so cold they’re hanging sides of beef in it.”

When I hear their humor, I wish I could beam myself in with a plate of warm, homemade cookies.  (If instead of a “frost quake” we have one of our infamous Seattle earthquakes soon, I’m putting in my order for peanut butter cookies topped with a Hershey’s kiss).

Counting my good fortune not to have Chicago’s present weather, I break away and take a walk around Seattle’s Lincoln Park (a far cry from Chicago’s Lincoln Park) where I see Spring buds on the trees and…wait a minute…a face?

That’s right, Dorothy.

At first I feel surprised, happy by my discovery of Mr. Tree Face.  What a magical place Seattle is!

But then I recall how the trees in the enchanted forest turn on Dorothy and her friends, throwing apples at them.  I almost expect my tree to turn on me:  “You gloat that you are able to roam outside without getting frostbite while your big sister and her family are stuck indoors,” he admonishes me.

“I am NOT gloating.  Besides, my famiglia makes jokes about it.  We all love each other.  No more guilt trips!”

At least for now.



2 thoughts on “Toto, I Don’t Think We’re In Chicago Anymore

  1. My son, DIL & grands live in Chicago and I don’t mind telling you, I was a nervous wreck last week! I really tried not to bug them, but it was SO HARD! Did you turn your outside faucets off? Do you have any exterior pipes into your house (you should let the water drip)? Do you have fresh antifreeze in your car? Make sure your furnace exhaust is clear or you’ll all die from CO2. OMG, Son#1 – you’re really not planning on going to work are you?? The good news is that they survived! We fly up there tomorrow so we’ll see how their home fared… And faces in trees creep me out! 😉


    • Agma – hope your trip to that toddlin’ town to see famiglia is fun, warm and cozy and that you do not experience the wind chill factor. Brrrr!!! Oh — and from my decades of living in Chicago not once did I see a tree with a face in it — so no worries there!

      In the meantime, we in Seattle have snow and freezing temps and there is a storm watch for more. Time to strap on the x-country skis and glide through the neighborhood. No need to drive up to mountains for it.


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