A snow day in Chicago

February 16, 2021 • 8:00 am

Roughly a foot of snow fell in Chicago last night, and it’s still coming down: we’re predicted to get another 3 to 5 inches today. Oy! My car is safe in the University garage, but I ain’t driving anywhere, even though I need groceries, for the roads are nearly impassible. The University has canceled live classes, and this being Chicago, they don’t do that very often!

First some photos of snow before yesterday.

As I’ve reported, a few intrepid mallards hung around Botany Pond until about ten days ago, when the pond froze over except for a few square feet of water around the bubbler. I call them the “snow ducks”, and there were about five. Here are two of them eating duck pellets in the snow. I could not bear to leave them unfed when they came here expressly to get noms.

When you eat from the snow, your bill gets covered. This photo and the video above were taken on February 4, one of the last days we saw the ducks. I’m worried about them as well as all the others who were here last summer. This one, I believe, is Lara, whose partner was a drake named Yuri.

The next four photos were taken yesterday. What you’re looking at is Botany Pond, completely covered with ice and snow. Not hospitable for ducks! The small opening in the snow at about eight o’clock is the opening created by the bubbler that aerates the pond.

The main quad of campus yesterday afternoon, when the snow was falling only lightly:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, which I pass on my way to and from work each day. Built between 1909 and 1910, it’s one of the most famous pieces of modern American architecture and an exemplar of Prairie School architecture. The Robies moved out soon after moving in, and it’s now owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. It was once a dormitory for students here, and owned at that time by the University of Chicago. It then housed University offices, and finally was renovated and given over to the Wright Foundation.

A shot of the snow-covered roofs:

When I left for work early this morning, the streets were deep in snow, and woe to those who left their cars on the street. They’ll either have to dig them out or wait for a thaw. Fortunately, I had the foresight to put my car in the enclosed University garage when I heard snow was coming a week ago.

Walking to work. It was a slog today, but not the worst I’ve had. In a few places on campus the snow was deep: up to my knees and higher.

WHO’S a good boy????

Snow up to my knees! Before taking this picture, I fell, so I had snow up to my thighs, too.

Facing campus; the tower is Saleh Hall, which houses Business and Econ. It used to be a theological seminary.

An outdoor dining table near my building. The depth of the snow is evident:

Who’s a good boy? Ten to one I’ll be the only person in the Zoology Building today.

12 thoughts on “A snow day in Chicago

  1. Yikes! That’s a lotta SNOW! The University of Chicago is a beautiful campus in all kinds of weather. I loved working there.

    Wear your Bernie’s Mittens and stay warm. 🙂

  2. My principle snow memory of UC is walking back from Western Civ with my best friend (still my best friend) across the Midway (which was a lot more barren in those days) to our dorm at Burton-Judson Courts, and seeing a line of falling snow approach us, and then enfold us. It’s the only time I’ve ever actually seen a line of snow. God knows there were plenty of other snowy days. Did I mention it was 85 here yesterday?

  3. My most interesting snow experience was when we lived in Princeton during the late 1970s. It was a Sunday and had a letter to mail, so I got up and putting it in the mail box was the first thing I would do. I hadn’t looked out of the windows, but when I opened the front door I was faced with a trench Verdun style, with sides higher than myself. I couldn’t see my car at all, there were just bumps in the snow surface. As the sidewalks were cleared by the town, I set out, hopefully, to find the mail box. There was no trace of it left!

    1. I had PDF working for me, had been for 6 months at least. We got a blizzard very late, almost springtime, and he got lost in the middle of the fairly dense campus for quite some time, going round in circles. The snow was coming sideways in the wind, visibility about 6 inches. Eventually he bumped into a building, got into it and waited till he could more-or-less see which direction to go. ~1979.

  4. Our local pond (for the drainage system) is frozen more than I recall seeing it in the past. The river is still open for the ducks, however. There was a flock (?) of goldeneye ducks the other day, and I suppose they’re still is.

  5. Nothing about snow. We have enough here and temps down to -17º F. This is Robie House stuff. When last I walked down to see the Robie House many years ago UC was using it as storage, and it was filled with cardboard boxes of something – files too precious to throw away? So it is good to know that ownership has passed to a group interested in preserving it. It is indeed one of Wright’s masterpieces.

  6. Bugger! And I thought we had it tough in NYC! I love Frank Lloyd Wright but people often don’t appreciate how much his entire catalogue/career is indebted to traditional Japanese architecture.
    I wonder who lives in Robbie House. I was going to wish I did for a minute but your weather report put me off! 🙂
    D.A.,
    NYC

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