Staff Writer and Staff Photographer

It was fierce. The wind howled outside our windows late into the night — or in our faces if we were unlucky, or courageous, enough to be out. And at one point, the storm was even punctuated by a crescendo of lightning and thunder. We were lucky in lots of ways. We had plenty of warning and time to prepare. People left work early, scurried through stores to stock up, just in case this thing lasted 40 days and 40 nights. Power went out, then came back on — or just went out.

It felt cozy being safely tucked inside, until you called a loved one and found out he was leaving work at 9 p.m. and facing a three-hour drive home in life-threatening conditions. When the all-clear call finally came, the relief was equally fierce.

It was nature putting us in our place, the third biggest snowfall in recorded Chicago history, but possibly the worst in terms of angry ferocity.

People got out and shoveled and scraped and brushed off, then later they shoveled and scraped and brushed off again, and again. The usual complement of unsung heroes took snowblowers down entire blocks and alleys, leaving perfectly carved canyons for passersby, many of them carting sleds to take advantage of the near-universal “snow day” last Wednesday, Groundhog Day of all things. The day the metropolitan area stood still.

But not everyone was considerate of their fellow travelers. Leading the bad neighbor award nominations is 100 Forest Place, which cleared access for its own residents, but completely ignored its Lake Street sidewalk. Pedestrians now have to climb several feet up before traversing one beaut of a butte. Who knows when that will melt? Maybe they can hire ice sculptors to carve their address on their new wall.

Village snowplow and snow-removal crews get high grades for Herculean efforts. Front-end loaders and dump trucks literally moved mountains, then created bigger mountains at lots like Lake and Forest, left undeveloped by the stagnant economy. A silver lining.

When the sky cleared Wednesday afternoon and the sun bounced off the new-fallen snow, the visuals were splendid — sparkling, drifted forms, sculpted by the elements. And just as it all began to sag and stain with sooty slush, we got a Sunday morning topping on our snow sundae.

It’s living with the stuff that gets tiresome, the bundling and shivering and the blasted shoveling — leavened by an occasional smile.

Yep, we survived another one.

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