Photo by Prakarsh Gurmule (He/him)
As the second day of deadly weather arrived in Chicago, it was better when compared to the day of January 30, 2019, when it reached a temperature of about 24 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Even though the temperatures were close to the ones on the earlier day, it was still manageable. By that, I mean it was evidently visible that more people were around. Although we could see the sun in the sky, it was just there to wave good morning to us; no effect of it could be felt on anyone. But there we were once again to face another rough Chicago weather day.
Once again, the team that runs the Commons arranged for free coffee and hot chocolate with marshmallows for everyone to beat the cold. Everyone enjoyed the hot beverages and were even more intrigued about an event that was being hosted inside the Commons. As planned, Chef Svenska Lindroth (Chef Sven) hosted a Teaching Kitchen in the afternoon, where students could actually make food live. The goal of the day was to make granola bars. After Chef Sven explained the procedure to make different kinds of granola bars, it was time for others to try it for themselves. This was a great initiative by the Commons team where they encouraged students to try to make more dishes.
The sun was shining high in the sky and with temperatures hovering close to minus single digits Fahrenheit, we all decided to go to downtown and experience city life in the extreme weather. To our surprise, it looked like just another normal day, albeit a little slow. Just to give a reference to a meme that I saw a week before the Polar Vortex was about to come in; I think it went something like this: when it snows a little in the southern states, everyone shuts everything down and goes back home as soon as possible, but when it snows in the northern states, or specifically in Chicago, people say that now is the time to go to work. This attitude was visibly noticeable in the areas of downtown where I visited.
The first place we visited was Lake Michigan. Having seen the pictures on various social media, we decided to go and see the frozen lake for ourselves. But this time around, instead of viewing it from the end of Navy Pier, we went a step further to North Avenue Beach. It's one of the best places to visit during the summer, but definitely not during the winter. One of the horrifying experiences that people can get here is the snow covers the entire beach and because of the low temperatures, it was difficult to spot where the beach ends and where the water begins. Trying to find hard ground, we were sticking as close to the beach as possible (wherever we could see sand, there was hard land plus snow).
We walked on the icy and snowy walkway surrounding the beach. This was risky but enjoyable, as we could see the water freezing at places. Ducks swimming in the water were another pleasant sight to see. We wanted to cover more interesting places, so we had to bid adieu to the lake but not before freezing the sight in our cameras. Speaking of cameras, many people had flocked the scene with professional cameras to capture the spectacle. Prakarsh Gurmule and Heli Trivedi were our photographers for the day who clicked some splendid pictures.
Next, it was time to visit the river. After a struggle to find a ride back to the downtown area, we managed to reach the river and the sight was totally unbelievable. The ice stood still and the water was not flowing, we could see the river stand still. I had never seen a frozen river in my life. After clicking and uploading the pictures on social media, it was time to witness the whole city from a different dimension. We were denied entry the last time when we went to London House and this time around, we took our chances to go to the rooftop to get the mesmerizing view.
As soon as we came out on the rooftop, the sight of the city with the frozen river took our breath away. Such a beautiful sight to see Lake Michigan on your right and the frozen river all the way to your left. We could have stayed there a little longer but the start of snow and the walk along the river made us all tired. We all decided to head back to campus with a lot of fantastic memories and the pictures and recordings that we all had captured. Overall, a day well spent with friends and I hope we don’t get to see many harsh winters like this in the future.