Stormy Weather

“Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather…its raining all the time.”

Remember that old saying that April showers bring May flowers? This year April was warm like June, May was cold and June has been Storm Month. Don’t know if this is due to global warming or just one of those years but it has been bizarre.

This past Wednesday night was the second major storm in the Chicago are in less than a week. In fact, Wednesday had two distinct storms. In the morning I was heading in earlier than usual. The sky’s were overcast when I left the house at 6:15.  30 minutes later I have 2 miles to go on the highway before my exit the sky turns black and sheets of rain pour down. I can barely see the road and cars are going 60-70 miles an hour.

Later that evening a second front rolled through that made the morning seem sunny. High winds, a funnel cloud touched down just west of the city and more sheets of rain. This went on for hours. I was supposed to meet a friend for birthday drinks but the commuter trains all came to a stop for over an hour due to the weather. Large branches, eve several trees were down in some areas. Stories abounded about how the worst of the winds had blown lawn furniture down the block and had even taken off a few roofs.

So how was my drive in the next morning? It was a beautiful morning. Bright blue, cloudless sky. Temps in the low 80’s. It was a gorgeous.  If you had slept through Wednesday there is no way one could be living this day and had any idea that the gods had been angry 24 hours earlier.

Now it is Sunday morning. It was darker than normal from the moment I awoke. Then the sound of thunder came…well thundering down. Moments later form nothing came more sheets of rain. I just stared at it through the window. It was glorious in its own way. Just as I thought it could not rain any harder, it did. Twice I could hear the sound of the rain change and become more intense.

This went on for 30 minutes. Then gone. There is still a river of water running through the street outside my home so I know it happened. The sky looks as if it will happen again.

Nothing left to do but listen to the sultry sounds of Lena Horne.

Snakes On the Plains

emrattlesnakeThere are many great reasons to live in Chicago–the past 12 months weather not being one of them. Yes we suffer from many of the urban, man-made disasters such as crime, homelessness, and not enough green space.  But natural disasters are rare.

No floods, hurricanes, drought, locust, etc. Even the occasional tornado in the vicinity stays in the towns far west and south of the city itself. As far as animals go we generally have nothing more than pests. Aggressive squirrels, raccoons, possums and the occasional skunk. We did have a coyote wander the city limits but that is a once in a lifetime even.  So imagine my shock and amazement when I read about the rattlesnake roundup. The eastern massasauga rattlesnake, as it turns out, is native to the area.

Now I have had the “pleasure” of being up close and personal with a rattlesnake. I do not mean in a zoo or from a safe distance. I was in Tuscon for business and there was a hiking trail up a small hill immediately nest to my hotel. I took off at dusk to get a little exercise in before dinner. on the way down, I heard it. Yes, it really is a rattle. I turned toward the sound and caught a glimpse of a green and black snake in some bushes about shoulder high. I leaped forward and did not stop running until I was in my room with the door locked.

Well, the ones in Chicago are apparently shy as rattlers go. There native habitats are decreasing and so many save the snake groups are rounding them up in order to breed them in a safer environment until their numbers are sufficient to return them to the wild that is Chicago.

To be honest I do not even want the shy rattlesnakes here. Unless of course they will eat a raccoon or possum or six. Then they can stay in my backyard.