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The City of the Big Shoulders

October 4, 2010 - Mike Donahey
Chicago. The City of the Big Shoulders. The Windy City. Those are two names given to the city, with the former bestowed by Carl Sandburg, in a line from his poem “Chicago.” Our family was there last weekend visiting our oldest daughter. It was a chance to see and stay at her much talked about apartment. Included was a windshield tour of the medical campus where she works. We had another motive — use the city as a backdrop for pictures of our youngest to complete her senior picture portfolio. The reason: we’ve vacationed to Chicago a number of times and taken many long weekends there. Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos. Evanston. The Museum of Science and Industry. The Northwestern University campus. The Sears Tower. Wrigley Field. All favorites. And it was at the Lincoln Park Zoo and near Lake Michigan where we discovered how windy — and cold — it can be if you are unprepared for it, as my wife and I were. Both the zoo and neighboring lakefront were specific settings Saturday for some of the picture-taking done by a friend of our oldest. There was only one problem. No one in the family had thought to check the weather forecast in advance. We had done other things wisely in planning the weekend, such as printing out exact directions, bringing plenty of beverages, cell phones, changes of clothes for the pictures, money and snacks to eat in the car. But a cold front had moved into the Chicago area Friday night, dropping the balmy summer like readings the Midwest had been enjoying lately to downright chilly. A strong and blustery north wind and cloudy skies in Chicago made the temperatures in the 50s and low 60s feel much, much colder than they really were. The wind cut right through my sweatshirt and short sleeve shirt underneath. The sweatshirt is one I wear to the Y frequently. It is fine for a workout but not for Chicago winds, at least not that day. A footbridge extending over Lake Shore Drive was the scene for more picture taking which took us from the zoo, which provided some shelter from the elements, to near Lake Michigan, where the wind was stronger and colder yet. On the lake, we could see the huge, white-capped waves crashing angrily and repeatedly against the beach. While the picture-taking took place on the bridge, Karen and I were huddled together under it, letting a pillar serve as a windbreak. We couldn’t wait to get back into our car and turn up the heat. Later, more pictures were taken at a variety of locations in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and I could admire the photographer’s skill as she worked creatively to set up many, many shots of our youngest. We can’t wait to see them! Hard to believe, our youngest, once a tiny prematurely born baby at three pounds, three-tenths of an ounce, delivered out of necessity at Mayo Clinic, posing for senior pictures in Chicago. It seems like yesterday, but it isn't, not according to the calendar. It was almost 18 years ago. It is time that takes tiny babies and changes them into attractive young women who dress up and go to junior-senior proms and homecoming dances on the arms of handsome young men. Time is at it again — it is seemingly inducing our youngest to look at colleges away from home.


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