Navigating the Snow

Jan 07, 2011
Tagged with:

I recently wondered aloud when driving home with my two kids one day about people who are homeless here in Chicago in this most recent string of below-freezing and below-average temperatures and snowfall for early December, even in Chicago. It’s been brutal for me personally, even with a heated home to go to every night.

This started a string of questions from my five year old about what people (or things) do in this weather. Like where do birds go? (I appreciated that she started me off with an easy one.). Why do some trees still have leaves on them? (I hope my pine needle response was somewhat accurate.) And what does someone in a wheelchair do when they need to build a snowman? Indeed, what DOES someone in a wheelchair do when they need to build a snowman?!

I then saw this article about blizzard life with a disability and it referenced a couple of creative souls, one who turned a snowblower into a makeshift walker (don’t do it, she got injured) and then one who attached snow tires to his power wheelchair and used the bike lanes in the main street. Continuing on I was surprised by a couple of things. First of all, the audacity of some people or businesses who would either not clear the accessible parking spot or actually shovel the snow from the other parking spaces INTO the accessible parking spot, EVEN if someone was already parked there and then had to dig themselves out! I was also surprised that there are typically city ordinances that require homeowners to clear sidewalks within 24 hours, and within four daytime hours for owners of apartment and commercial buildings. I feel silly that I didn’t realize that in my 8 years of winter city life. I just thought it was one of those unspoken rules that you just knew and we were always annoyed by neighbors who never cleared, but I now feel empowered to find out that I may have some additional ammunition for bringing it up to those lazy neighbors in the future.

But I then recall a previous blog about someone who got in trouble for using his wheelchair in the main street and thought that would really just be the icing on the cake if you were forced to the street to get where you were going due to the snowy sidewalks, only to be ticketed for being on the street.

I’m sure something like has happened to someone out there, and unfortunately I will probably continue to be surprised by people’s behavior both with or without snow (though I wish I weren’t) for years to come. But for now, can anyone explain to me and my daughter what someone with a wheelchair does when he or she needs to build a snowman?!

Author: Blythe