It’s the little things – Springtime edition

20 Mar

Good grief I love spring.  I was talking to my pal Doug B on the train last week when this warm weather jag started, and we  both agreed that one of the reasons we love living in Chicago is spring time.  Other places “Spring has Sprung” seems to be the word – winter slowly abates, and spring eases in – sort of springs up.  Around here, spring hits with the impact of Barry Bonds smacking an incoming fastball out of the park.  Winter drags on and on and on, and just when you think you’re going to go bonkers, WHAM, there’s a 70 degree day.  Not a nice warm 50, but 70.  And even 80.

Most years, winter is a lot tougher, this WAS an easy winter.  While I did grow up in Iowa, and winters there ARE tougher than they are in Chicago, nonetheless, Chicago winters are tough.  Weeks on end of snowcover on the ground, grey skies, bone chilling cold, northeast breezes off Lake Michigan that peel the skin off your cheekbones and turn your ears into frozen poker chips.  And spring, or at least spring like this past week, normally comes in mid-April, not mid-March.  But when it does, you realize why you love Chicago and tolerate the winter – because the relief of Spring is so sweet.

Chicagoans also really embrace spring because we know the gift can be really fleeting.  It can be a beautiful warm day and all, but we know, lurking just offshore is miles and miles of ice cold Lake Michigan water.   All it takes is a wind shift from west to east or north, and the day will go from 75 degrees to 45 degrees in literally 15 minutes.  No smart Chicagoan goes to a May Cubs game without packing a jacket, even if the temp at game time is in the 80s.  It happens that quickly.  If you’re watching a digital thermometer at the time it happens, it’s like watching the countdown clock at NASA – 60, 59, 58, 57, 56 … crazy stuff.  Happened last week, as a matter of fact.

In no particular order, here’s a bunch of little things I love about the first warmth of spring:

– Crocuses:  These hardy little guys poke their blooms out of the earth with the first hint of spring warmth – they are the optimists of the plant world.  They put their blooms up like a middle finger to Winter – “Ha bitch!  Look at me, I’m blooming.  Just try and freeze me now!”

– People being OUT – everywhere you went the past two weekends, people were OUT – all of us in Chicago are so party-starved for fresh air and sunshine that when you get warmth like this, we are all out enjoying it – hiking, walking, sitting in the sun and reading, setting up the patios, outdoor cafes, washing the car, running the dog, etc.  No one, but no one wants to be inside anymore.

– Motorcycles and Convertibles:  Let’s face it, I’m a motorhead, and well, I like both of these – and both come out to play in the warm weather.  Now, I’d say that a lot of cycle riders going crazy as their insurance doesn’t cut in until April 1 or later, but the convertible drivers were out in force.  Drop the top, go for a ride.  Even if it is to the grocery store.

– Firepits and Barbecues – every evening for the past two weeks, the unmistakable aromas of burning wood and  sizzling meat has filled the air in Chicago suburbia.  Everyone was grilling, lots of people gathering on their patios around their firepits.   Smells like summertime.

– Birds – while the birds have been back for about 3 weeks now, nonetheless, I love walking outside on a spring morning to take out Sprite, or get the newspaper and getting greeted by a neighborhood full of Robins, Cardinals, etc. all “Tweeting” about the beautiful spring morning.  Social media at its finest.

–  Walking – let’s face it, walking somewhere when the wind is howling, you have every inch of exposed skin covered, you’re slipping and sliding, etc. etc., isn’t nearly as much fun as walking with the sunshine warming you and the warm spring breeze carrying you along.

– Summer clothes – Ok, let’s face it, I’m a male. I’m not talking about MY wardrobe here.   There isn’t a guy alive reading this that when you read “summer clothes” didn’t smile a bit to yourself and say “yup” … so let’s just leave it at that.  I’m not talking about polos and shorts on the guys.

And of course, most of all – that good feeling of “whew, we made it through another winter”.  I hear my friends all the time now talking about what’s next in their lives – when the kids are gone, when they’ve hit the financial/retirement goals – seems that all of them want to get out of Chicago and away from winter.  I’m not sure that will ever be me.  For one simple reason.  If I get away from Chicago winters, well, I also will be leaving Chicago spring.

Enjoy this welcome, ultra-early spring – we’re just a wind shift away from more winter.

As you were,

Stew

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