I write this on a nasty-looking day. On my west window, I see spatterings of the rain that recently descended quite quickly, then departed the same way. It’s the kind of weather I’m glad not to have to be outside in.
It’s the start of October — the time when, during my 17 years of residence in Chicago’s south suburbs, I would now be looking out the window, but instead of remarking on rain, I’d be thinking “It’s coming again…” meaning, of course winter, with the kind of weather those who are native to this area can never imagine.
The biggest problem was the snow. Kids loved it, of course. But they just had to play in it, not deal with it as we adults had to do. I especially remember one memorable night, when after what seemed like forever, the snow had finally stopped falling. I lived in one of a row of eight two-story houses, loosely connected in pairs by adjoining driveways that split as they led into our separate carports. That night, we’d all emerged into peaceful moonlight to begin the mighty task of shoveling what had fallen earlier that day. We waved at each other, began our work, and rather quickly found we could do nothing with our loaded shovels — there was no way to reach any height to put more snow on top of what was already there.
And so, one wise neighbor hollered down the row: “This is stupid! I quit!” and with that, he stuck his shovel deep into the snowbank in front of him, waved to all of us, and went into his house. The rest of us immediately did likewise — abandoning our shovels with a wave and a move indoors. Can you guess what happened after that? Sometime that night, someone came down the block and stole all our shovels! Of course shovels had been in short supply since the heavy snowfalls began, so none of us could really be surprised — only upset.
I think of this now, which I do at the start of every October. There, as I realized that Halloween was approaching, I began looking out my windows with dread, thinking “It’s coming again.” Meaning, of course, not the holiday, but the snow. Here, shovel-less, I smile with gratitude.
This will be my first Halloween in someplace other than a private home. In those long-ago snow-filled years, lots of kids would come around on Halloween, trick-or-treating. But here in Dallas, not so many, it seems — mostly loud teenage boys having some fun, and very small children knocking gently on doors as their mothers stand watchfully just a few feet away. I doubt that many, if any, kids will make their way to the doorway of our Legacy high-rise; I don’t know, since I haven’t been here for a prior Halloween, if management has a bowl of goodies waiting at the front desk, just in case. I hope so, and I hope some children come!
I used to love the falling leaves — so crisp and colorful — in my part of Illinois, before the snow itself began to fall. But then, appreciation was followed by the annual job of gathering them up and figuring out how many big black garbage bags it would take to fill them, since where I lived, we were forbidden to burn them outside. Now, after more than 40 years here in Dallas, I’ve gotten used to trees that are forever green — most keeping their leaves as if afraid to let them go. Of course, I miss the turning colors, but not the sweeping up afterward!
Harriet Gross can be reached at