A few insights that escaped from the polar vortex

Now that the great polar vortex of 2014 has receded into legend and Chicago has returned to its normal wintry self — cold, slushy, mired in yellow snow — here are a few thoughts inspired by the recent weather.

1. In extreme cold, wearing two pairs of socks really does help.

One thick, one thin. I can't believe I didn't learn that sooner.

2. The shoveled sidewalk is not necessarily the safest sidewalk.

I'm all for shoveling, but shoveling as we know it rarely clears the sidewalk.

The "shoveled" sidewalk is typically one that, at best, retains a few patches of ice. The ice is often barely visible.

But the average person out for a walk — a person likely to tread carefully on an unshoveled walk — is apt to be a little more insouciant on the shoveled path because it's, well, shoveled.

Then bam.

The so-called shoveled sidewalk, depleted of its snow cushion, requires a special level of vigilance.

3. People who returned from warm-weather vacations in the past few days should quietly swallow their pain.

We know, we know. It was so much nicer where you were. It was so much easier and more beautiful, and why, oh why, did you have to come back?

The rest of us would feel that way too if we'd spent the past week in a bikini. But we didn't.

So please. Don't whimper about the punishment of returning from Cancun or Tucson or Key Largo.

4. People who happened to be lucky enough to be on vacation in Cancun or Tucson or Key Largo while the rest of us were shivering in the vortex do not deserve to be vilified.

Unless they whimper to us about the pain of their return.

5. Is there really no alternative to yellow snow?

Dogs must do what dogs must do, but must they leave the city blighted with their doings?

6. If you leave your car buried in the snow long enough, nature will dig it out for you.

Along with many of my neighbors, I decided to leave my car trapped by snow until Friday, when the temperature cracks the freezing mark and a little melt helps the shovel. My neighbor George, a retired gent and the hardiest shoveler on the block, says that this approach to snow is letting the guy who put it there remove it. I'm not sure he approves.

7. Even in extreme cold, most of us have it easy.

CHICAGO

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