This has been a brutal winter: the coldest four-month stretch in Chicago’s history, with more days at or below zero since they first started keeping records in 1870-something. As I write this, the days have started to warm, but it continues to be cooler than average, and I’m half expecting old man winter to raise one last middle finger salute to us in the form of one last snow.

Snow. In December it is so lovely. By March I could not have despised it more.

snowflakesOne night in early March we were hanging out with Gary. It was bitterly cold, as was the custom, and deep snow covered the ground, as it had for all of recorded history. But earlier in the day, Gary had been downtown pan-handling when a snowflake landed on the back of his black glove. “It was huge! I’ve never seen anything like it! So beautiful and all—what’s the word?—symmetrical.” Even as he described it to us that night, his face lit up like a little kid’s: like it was reflecting the beauty of God’s delicate creation he had witnessed earlier in the day.

“I must have looked like an idiot. My eyes wide and my mouth hanging open like, EEaueeaauugghh!”

We were all laughing now. Gary is incapable of telling a story half-heartedly. And for a moment we forgot how numb our feet and fingers felt, and remembered how beautiful snow really is. I’m really grateful to Gary for re-opening my eyes.

Later in the month, Andi and i were in Colorado doing some “Stories from the Streets” gigs. Toward the end of our trip we caught another eight inches of the white fluffy stuff. I pulled on my black gloves, went outside, and did my best to catch a few flakes, singing Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows in April,” and thinking of Gary the whole time.

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