Sunday, February 18, 2007

Snow Blanketed Sunday

After breakfast this morning I walked east down Fullerton to the lake front. I'd never been down to the lake in the winter. I wanted to take some pics of the frozen sections of the lake. Unfortunately, the batteries on the camera were dead. So it just turned into a lake side stroll.

The ice on the lake wasn't solid and waves were rolling under the fractured surface. By listening closely or when I caught a break in traffic on LSD I could hear the ice whipser to me. It was a deep, soft crunching sound that welcomed me to the lake front. The joggers wouldn't hear it, to busy huffing and puffing and stomping their feet down on the pavement. They could see the beauty of the undulating ice but it's whisper was just for me.

I walked south along North Avenue Beach blanketed in a foot of snow and ice. Here and there I got a peak at the underlying sand. Frozen little grains waiting for the return of warm sunshine, volleyball nets and the beautiful ladies of Chicago and their beach blankets. But for the next few months, the sand will bide its time.

At the North Avenue foot bridge I crossed over to the park. Up on the bridge I finally found Chicago's wind. It blustered and chilled my face but I wasn't daunted by it. Below me, people rushed to and fro, secured away in their climate controlled cars. I don't think they saw the beauty of the frozen lake or the vast expanse of snow that now lay in front of me in the park. Pity them, for they know not what they miss.

Walking through Lincoln Park the snow revealed its recent history. Along the foot path was the trail of a plastic sled. In the midst of the sled trail were wide spaced foot prints. I could close my eyes and picture a father running through the snow tugging junior along on the sled. Junior was laughing and yelling for dad to go faster. Neither cared about the biting wind.

Farther up I came across the intersecting trails of cross country skiers. Although the snow revealed their path it furiously guarded the time these two men actually crossed its surface. Did the two see each other? I don't think so. They were both there yesterday but the man heading north was out in the park first thing yesterday morning. The second man did get there until nearly dusk.

I turned north and climbed the hill toward the zoo. Ulysses S. Grant commands the hill from atop his horse. He took the hill in 1891 and has never relinquished it. It is his hill and it is his section of the park. He looks out over it night and day. Today's cold didn't bother him. The wind had long since cleared his shoulder and hat of snow. He has endured much worse.

At the base of his monument was a broken sled. It wasn't the one dad had pulled junior on. No this one was left behind after it cracked in half. It had to have been a kid too old for the sled or maybe a fat kid. When he rode it over the snowbank at the bottom of the hill it couldn't sustain his weight and broke.

Past the statue I turned back west along the south edge of the zoo to head home. My soothing walk through the park had to come to an end so that domestic issues like laundry could be done. As I walked away Ulysses cracked a smile at me. He had held his tongue as I passed but could have told me what had really happened. It wasn't Dad pulling junior on the sled. It had been Mom. The small foot prints should have given it away. And the two cross country skiers had seen each other and crossed paths. They weren't both men, but a man and a woman. After they had crossed, the man had looked back and thought to himself that he should have turned to ski with her and get her phone number. And the sled hadn't been broken by a fat kid. It broke when a foolish kid had ridden it down the steps of the monument.

Ulysses had seen it all. Just as he had watched me cross the bridge today like I have hundreds of times in the past. He knew what had happened but let me pass in peace. I was happy and Ulysses was happy to share his park for a few moments on a snow blanketed Sunday.



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