Tag: climate

Spring Comes to Chicago: An Essay

John Simonds and Mary Jo Field with Bianca.








Spring comes to Chicago like a petulant child told to eat its broccoli.

We sit ceaselessly in of front our gas fireplace waiting for a spring that never seems to arrive, like we have been condemned to do penitence for undisclosed sins. It’s May 3rd and the temperature is 38 degrees, for Pete’s sake.

I am not a climate-change denier, but I see no evidence that the earth is getting warmer if you have to walk your dog three times a day, something I do out of misplaced love for my dog Bianca.

I checked it: officially spring arrived on time this year. The sun crossed the equator on March 20, heralding the arrival of the new season. Unfortunately, Chicago did not get the memo—it failed to set the alarm so that when we returned from Mexico on April 6th, everyone in our Near North neighborhood was wearing L.L. Bean parkas and wool scarfs. That is except those beautiful bodies that flash by on their way to the East Bank Club wearing tights and form-fitting shirts with a Nike logo and running shoes that glow in the dark. I am jealous.

I tell myself that it is time to get back to the gym to start getting in shape before summer comes or I have a heart attack, whichever comes first.

The new upscale playground in Montgomery Park is like a ghost town—with the wind howling at 18 miles per hour, no one ventures into the park, and the nannies, pushing their baby carriages, simply pass by in silence. One carriage was all zipped up and a guy who looked like an unreconstructed hippy was pushing it. Inside sat his cat, perfectly contented.

A truck arrived and four Mexican immigrants emerged and started putting fragrant compost around the trees and shrubs along the River Walk on Kingsbury, a sign of things to come, I prayed. Across the street a small plot planted with brightly colored tulips stands defiantly against the arctic wind.

Before I can file a complaint with our embattled mayor, the miracle of spring arrived on the wings of an angel named Hope. It was May 5th and the temperature soared to 58 degrees; young people sun bathed on the lawn in the park, the birds started chirping and strains of the Halleluiah Chorus could be heard in the distance.

Around the corner at the Erie Café the padlocks came off the furniture on the terrace and the waiters in long white aprons carry drinks on trays raised above their heads, and a group of men gather at a corner table to smoke cigars. Next door at the playground, children play chase and scream with joy, as a newly born flock of geese plied the river below.