Monday, January 5, 2015

Wishing for Winter Weather in Chicagoland

"Where is winter? It is December 24;  I thought Illinois would be in the thick of winter by now," I said with, I hate to admit, a bit of a whiny edge to my voice. My fiançé and I were walking from the parking lot into the fray of frantic Christmas Eve shoppers at Walmart. I realize attempting any shopping on that particular day seems like a ridiculous thing to do, but I had flown into Chicago late the night before, and there were ingredients we needed to prepare a holiday meal the next day for Chuck's two Illinois boys and their girlfriends. Rest assured that shopping at Walmart the day before Christmas is not a tradition we will be wanting to keep in the future.

"Winter is coming; I promise you," Chuck said with a twinkle in his eye.

One thing I should probably mention is that Chuck is in the IT department (information technology, Mom) for an insurance company near Deerfield, Illinois, about an hour's commute from home. On snow days, members of his department are allowed to work from home. Winter weather is not so silly a thing for which a new bride to wish, is it?

Christmas Day came and went, as did the 26th and then our wedding day, the 27th of December. No frigid temperatures. Certainly, no snow. As we drove off for our honeymoon in Chuck's Toyota Camry to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, the skies were overcast, but it wasn't all that cold. So, this is winter in the Great Lakes states, I thought to myself, somewhat disappointed, only in the weather, though. There were so many wonderful things taking place day by day, that I didn't have too much time to dwell on the lack of winter weather.

Sunday morning when we woke up early (yes, four in the morning is an acceptable time of day to arise for someone other than myself), Chuck asked if I'd like to see Lake Geneva before the town began to stir. I eagerly agreed, and we pulled on our winter wear, knowing this would be the coldest part of the day. Warm layers below outer layers would keep our feet and legs warm. We donned hats, scarves, and gloves. I was not disappointed; the air was cold finally.

Our breath puffed out in steamy clouds as we talked and walked along the dark streets which were lit up by the street lights, as well as the Christmas lights from shop windows. "I can see my breath!" I cheerfully noted. Maybe winter was arriving, after all.

Chuck pointed out his favorite shops and restaurants. We strolled toward the lake, passing by the Riviera waterfront, and along the path toward the more modest mansions that face the lake. It was quite dark, and we didn't go far. My back wasn't very cooperative after hauling around my heavy backpack through the airports the day before, so we decided to head back to the Mill Creek Inn, and wait until the inn's complimentary breakfast was served.

We spent two nights and two days at Lake Geneva, enjoying this time to ourselves in between Christmas and New Year's Eve. Some of our honeymoon highlights (okay, besides THAT) were fine Italian dining at Cafe Calamari, a great dinner at Popeye's (NOT the chain, but an award-winning casual dining restaurant with fabulous views of the lake) and yummy breakfasts at Egg Harbor. We shopped for the perfect Christmas ornament, a pair of cardinals, found by Chuck. The regal red bird is the state bird of Virginia AND Illinois, so it has some significance to us both.

One of the things that brought Chuck and me together is our love of photography. We took our cameras out Monday morning for a photo safari,  walking along the side of the lake with the fabulous mansions. I especially enjoyed the Expect a Miracle mansion. 

On either side of the landowners' maintained trail for the public, the Expect a Miracle path features positive affirmations, hand-painted on the white fence, adorned with flowers and quotes. I rang the miracle bell, wondering if it would take a miracle to have snow any time soon.  The clanging of the bell resonated loudly across the lake, causing Chuck to cover his ears. I smiled as the echoes began to fade. I mostly just felt gratitude for all of the miracles that had already taken place that had gotten me to this point in my life.

When we returned to Saint Charles, we stopped in Wheaton to meet Chuck's parents, Dick and Jane. You can imagine this retired school teacher's delight at having in-law's named Dick and Jane. I still grin every time I say their names together. (I know it ages me to admit that I learned to read with the Dick and Jane readers, but I have such fond memories of those books.) We had a quick visit at their house, and then headed home. My seventeen-year-old Bridger would be joining us the next day for the remainder of his school holiday, and we would be busy showing him around Chicago a couple of days, and introducing him to Saint Charles, too. 

Bridge added a hat to his winter
ensemble shortly after this picture
was taken. 
The winter weather continued to "improve," depending on your point of view, and it was downright cold Tuesday night when Chuck and I took Bridger into downtown Chicago for some much-anticipated Giordano's deep dish pizza. Nine degrees forced us into hats pulled down tight and scarves wound 'round our necks. To say we were let down by the news of a 45 minute wait to even ORDER our pizza would be an understatement, and when we heard it would be another half hour or so before we would be seated, we made a change in plans. So we shuffled down the street in search of dinner, and ended up at Burrito Beach. I will not waste your time with our disappointing review of THAT experience. Suffice it to say, Burrito Beach will be forever struck from any future bucket lists!
Friday, New Year's Day at Millennium Park at the Bean with Bridger

Finally, Saturday, as we were waiting for family members to arrive for supper, a soft snow began to fall. It was picturesque, and I was delighted to see that we were finally getting some real winter weather. The next day as we drove through the sloppy slush, Chuck asked if I were happy. "Is this what you were hoping for? This wet mess of melting snow?"

Well, yes. I love winter. But secretly, I'd been hoping to be snowed in with my sweet husband when he had to return to work today, but alas, the streets are clear, and unfortunately, minus two degrees Fahrenheit is no reason to miss work, unless you're an overly optimistic wife. Winter has come to Chicagoland, and I could not be happier.

Or maybe I can! Guess what tonight's weather forecast has in store for us? 3-6 inches of the white stuff. I just texted Chuck the great news. 

"You're one powerful wisher," he responded.

"Why, thank you. I try." 


  1. Well Denise, you certainly have your winter weather now. You should have been here last winter, when all us natives thought it would never end...

    1. I'm going to just enjoy it while I can; hunkering down at home and spending time mall-walking with my husband.


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