Tuesday, January 15, 2008


You could spend a lot of time describing the quality of light on my walk to the train this morning. Someone more verbose than me at 7:00 am might employ descriptive words like: steely, sullen, ashen, bleak, etc. If you were naming a paint color (a great job if ever there was one), you might be temporarily overcome with the urge to christen it "January 15 Chicago Grey". Apropos as the moniker might be, it's certainly not all that marketable. You'd quickly realize your error, slap "Colt 45 Brushed Nickel" on the side of the can, and move on.

For those of us who have been here awhile, it's just "grey". When you use the term in midwinter Chicago, people know you're not talking about hair or cars or dishwater. It's the light. You can't even say "sky" really; it's more of a 360 degree experience. Especially now that the holiday lights have been boxed up for another year, it's grey as far as the eye can see. It's like leaving your house and walking into an episode of "Leave it to Beaver"--one that's outside, in the winter (I was going to add "...and not funny", but the show didn't make me laugh).

If you're not careful, the grey begins to seep into your brain: which, of course, is also grey. This whole "grey on grey" invasion can have a noticeable impact on your personality. If your brain is a lighter grey than the environment, then you'll find yourself turning more gloomy and depressing. On the other hand, if the outdoors is a lighter grey than your brain, then you might sense a little extra spring in your step (this is not all that common).

People not from around here think it's the cold of winter that we struggle against. In truth, it's the grey.

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