Saturday, May 7, 2016

Winter and It´s Effect on Our Community

Enrique Paredes Gebhard

Once the holiday season began and the weather was getting cold, everybody knew winter was coming. I have heard a lot of crazy stories about the winter in Chicago. Former volunteers told me that here it got the coldest they ever felt. Negative degree weather where water you pour out of the window freezes before it hits the ground and bursts. I thought they were kidding but this city taught me better. 
Tim & Konny enjoy walk on the frozen lake.

In early winter we had a lot of visitors so it was never boring and we were especially excited to spend Christmas with our guests at work. Nobody cared about cold weather. We enjoyed sitting in the living room at night spending time with each other, playing games, or watching a movie. This time really connected us and built the friendship we have now.

A snowy bean.
And don´t forget the  many outdoor activities Chicago has to offer during the wintertime. Downtown is beautiful covered in snow, creating many beautiful pictures. Even though we wanted to skate on the ice rink in Millennium park, it never worked out so therefore we liked walking in the snow, doing a round in our neighborhood and through the actual wicker park. Some of our girls, who were originally from the South, hadn’t seen much snow and their excitement spread to the rest of us who are pretty used to snow every winter. Spontaneously we decided to take a walk during the first snow of the year. Everybody who was home joined.

After the new year started it got extremely cold for a couple of days in a row. None of us ever left the building if not for going to work. We were even seeing our guests coming in with frostbite throughout the day. I have no idea how anybody can survive every day and every night in a cold like this since some of them still didn’t want to go to shelters. On very cold days the city of Chicago called the shelters to take everybody in who comes and some times they are even open as warming centers during the day.

Emily, Tim, & I on one of the first snows of the season.
The longer the winter lasted the more tired I got from it. And I can tell that for my community mates it wasn’t any better. The time people spent in community space got less and less. As an effect of their work and sleep schedules, the shelter people were getting especially tired since they never saw the sunlight.

Luckily in the beginning of march the weather changed abruptly. We had minus degrees the one day and on the next we had temperatures in the 60s. At this time, the community started warming up again and everybody was excited for the warm weather to come. On my birthday Chicago decided to send me the sun and the highest temperatures so far which was my favorite gift that day. But you cannot depend on the Chicago weather during the end of winter and beginning of spring. Not even on the weather forecast. It get´s really crazy when you have all four seasons on just one day. Walking in a t- shirt the one moment because of 60 degrees and the next hour you have to stay inside because it´s snowing.

Still you can feel that the warm weather is coming and I am excited to go on bike rides again or just play frisbee in the park with my friends as Chicago is coming out of its hibernation and starting to get alive. None of us will ever forget the winter of Chicago with the craziness we experienced and the time we had to get closer to each other.

The full community at the Christkindlmarket.