All that is just part & parcel of living through winter in Chicago, barely worth mentioning in a blog. At least for someone like me, who loves snow and learned how best to drive in snow on family trips up to Rogers City, Michigan for Christmas. (Yes, we drove north into Michigan to the northern part of the LP between Christmas & New Years' every year. Ask coffeechica if you don't believe me.)
However, this time, something happened that has never happened before when I've lived through this sort of trek home. Two and a half miles of my trip are spend driving down a road that cuts through a forest preserve. (For those in the area: Higgins Rd. through Busse Woods.) There are no viable alternate routes and no turn-offs other than forest preserve parking lots when traffic gets heavy, and when traffic is heavy or when there's an accident or traffic stop in there making traffic worse, it quickly turns into a two and a half mile long parking lot. This time, there was almost no oncoming traffic, and traffic in my direction was moving at a relatively constant slow speed, averaging around 4 miles an hour at most. (I estimated the speed by the time it took to get from one end to the other, as my spedometer almost never made it up past the zero mark the whole way through.) I discovered that if I turned the radio and heater/defroster off, rolled down my window halfway, and turned the wipers off just long enough that I could still see out the windshield with the occasional pulse of the wipers, that it was almost totally quiet. My car and the other cars in my direction were all quietly rolling along, the wind was blowing in such a way that the snow didn't really come into the car much, and what little oncoming traffic there had most of its noise muffled by the snowfall, leaving just a soft sound of tires cutting through the snow. Out my window, I could see deep forest and pretty much all I could hear was the snowfall and the wind in the trees, and even though I was most certainly caught in bumper to bumper traffic, as long as I kept an eye on the brake lights of the car ahead of me and we all kept moving at a relatively constant rate, the illusion was kept up. For almost 40 minutes straight. I haven't experienced that sort of complete and utter peace since being out in the woods on my grandfather's farm during a snowfall. There is nothing in this world quite like it, and for me, this was like comfort food is for everyone else.
The whole time, I had this poem running through my head. I believe what I was experiencing was exactly the sensation the poet had in mind, and it with this that I leave you:
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost)
Feudalism: Serf & Turf