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Afternoon Shift

Let it snow

(Flickr/Chad Magiera)

It is the twelfth of December in the year 2020, and the little girl climbs onto her father's lap and asks, "Daddy, did you ever see snow?"

The father laughs.

"Oh, yes, honey, there used to be lots of snow in Chicago," he says.

"What happened?" asks the little girl. "When did it stop?"

"Well, that's a tough question to answer," says the father. "But I'll try. Seems to me that in the 1990s the winters had started to get a little easier; they weren't as cold, there wasn't as much snow, the wind didn't howl as loudly, and the Santas who stood on street corners could sometimes be seen perspiring and drinking iced tea. More and more people started talking about these mild winters—but no one really did anything about them.

“And so people in winter started playing golf and jogging and doing stuff in the lake, which used to freeze sometimes because it would get so cold. And people started going to places like Canada and the Swiss Alps, where they still had snow and where it was cold.”

He pauses for a moment in reflection. "In the old days winters used to be roaring indoor fires in things called fireplaces, snowball fights, skating on frozen ponds, sledding down hills covered in snow."

"It sounds like the old-fashioned winters were sooooo fun," the little girl says.

“A lot of it was. They used to make these real pretty sculptures out of ice at the Lincoln Park Zoo. But there were some bad things too, like cars that would be buried for a long time, no places to park, something called frostbite that would make fingers and noses and toes all numb. Sometimes schools would have to close because of the snow and cold."

"Schools would be closed!" says the girl.

"So, Daddy, do you remember what snow looks like? Do you miss it? Do you miss the snow and the cold?"

The father looks outside. The sun is shining brightly and all is green. He can see his wife and younger son putting out treats for Santa—a pitcher of lemonade and some chips and salsa—on a table that sits on the deck of the swimming pool, where some neighborhoods kids are splashing.

"I do miss it a little. Snow was white and it was beautiful; and sometimes late at night, when the moon was out, it would sparkle on the trees and lawns like a million little stars that had fallen from the sky," he says, wrapping his arms around his daughter. "And when the temperature would get low it could make you feel really alive and fresh and make you want to hug a pretty little girl really tight so she would never, ever get cold."

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