My work is often inspired by what I observe when walking or cycling through a city — very often by bike, as I am Dutch. My background is also in urban design, so I like to feature Chicago’s beautiful architecture, characteristic neighborhoods, iconic skyline — and how people use their city.

Chicago winters are much more intense than previous ones in my life. And to me, Chicagoans have elevated dealing with snow to an art form, which inspired me to create a short visual column of my favorite surprises during many winter walks and bike rides.

I love snow: Cities transform into a whole new world. Busy streets seem to whisper. Everything calms down. Snow feels like being on vacation without the need to travel. You can just step outside and go for a walk.

I experienced days with snow in almost every winter of my life, so I thought I’d know everything about it. Until I moved to Chicago.

I learned that large amounts of snow can fall multiple times a day. And it stays cold for weeks, so the snow doesn’t melt within days like elsewhere I lived. Still, they manage to keep sidewalks spotless. How?

As soon as the first snow falls, half the people you see outside seem to be shoveling.

They also use a lot of salt. A lot. With unexpected, different challenges.

But most of all, the thick blanket of snow gave me an opportunity to see city life from a different, sometimes surprising perspective.