A California friend is staying at the family house in Evanston, Illinois – a few miles from Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan – and sent me these sobering and lovely photographs. When she arrived last week I heard that "the weather is grey and blustery but not too cold – hovering around freezing with rain turning into snow and back into rain." Since then the cold has intensified and the snow has settled. As a child this was the winter weather I took for granted. Nowadays pictures like these look totally unfamiliar and exotic, like stills from Doctor Zhivago.