Wind crashed into the city yesterday, whipping through downtown and the neighborhoods that surround it, taking the last leaves off the trees and ruining more umbrellas than I can count. Yesterday was proof positive that Chicago being known as the Windy City doesn’t just apply to politicians blowing hot air. There were wind gusts being reported at up to 60 miles an hour. Luckily I had the day off, so I didn’t have to go anywhere. Unlucky for me, I was restless. I wanted, no needed to get out of the house. Water seems to calm me and put things into perspective, so even though they had closed the bike path on Lake Shore Drive (the roadway that lines the outer edge of the city), I decided to head down to get a glimpse of the action. I put on a hat and coat and gloves (the temps were reading in the 40’s with the wind chill) and headed out. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would at the very least be interesting.
What I got was almost being knocked over. More than once. The view out of my kitchen window showed turbulence for sure, but I had to bend almost in half on the way to the bus to avoid falling on my face. Once I actually got to the lake, it was even worse. This is Lake Michigan on a normal, easy-going day:
That teeny tiny line in the lower right is a person. There is this concrete walkway that surrounds the lake, allowing people to walk or run nearly the entire length of the city.
This is a view from yesterday, a little further north, but I was about the same distance from the water:
As you can see the waves are completely covering the normal walkway area. They were hitting the side of concrete and shooting 12-15 feet into the air. Mists that resembled ghosts crept along the grassy park next to the water. Winds blew me into a tree and rocked the leaves from their branches. It was intense. So intense that the collar on my coat flapped so hard against my cheek that it created a welt.
But man, it was so cool! I know that it was dangerous and a strong enough gust could have sent me straight into the water, but it was so awesome, in that powerful kind of way. It made my troubles seem so insignificant and petty. This wind was pure nature, at its most chaotic, and I fell into an odd peace being immersed in it.
As I walked back to the bus, I noticed how alive I felt. The sideways rain that had been an annoyance only 20 minutes ago was now a welcome splash on my face. I giggled as I rushed through a pile of soggy leaves, stunned at how numb I had been feeling and how awake I suddenly was. I noticed things I had overlooked many times, like the old timey pictures that decorate the tiled walkway I have to go through to get to the lake. Or the vibrant red leaves that I had somehow missed on the tree directly next to me. It was like I was seeing it all for the first time.
I was able to hold on to some of that magic throughout the day, and am trying to search it out now. Those moments of pure awareness only seem to ping into my life occasionally. I want more.