01 May 2009

April Showers, Chicago Style

It's been a pretty cold, wet spring, and everybody's complaining about it. I don't know how many times I've heard people say that Chicago doesn't have a spring; just (beautiful) fall, (brutal) winter, and (beatific) summer.

It isn't true. Chicago absolutely does have a spring, but those of us who've lived in warmer climes just expect it to start sooner and be milder. Since March began, we've rarely had snow (and snow sometimes in spring is only to be expected--think of Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow) and temperatures have rarely--if ever--descended into the 20s. Crocuses and daffodils started to appear in March; migratory birds have been passing through since late February.

The tremendously rainy, chilly April has demoralized everyone, but rain in April is hardly out of place.

(Don't make me repeat that old rhyme.)

I'm no particular fan of freezing or searing temperatures, but I really enjoy having four seasons. There are so many ways we lose touch with the outdoors; changes in weather remind us that we are subject to something beyond our own little plans. In winter, I make a point of watching for wintering ducks, and tracking how the harbor freezes and thaws. We stay home a lot more, but our lives are usually so outward-focused that it feels kind of like vacation. We rent a lot more DVDs and cook heartier meals.

In spite of the damp chill of the current spring, I've been delighted with the new flowers, the trees just beginning to bud and leaf out, the determined (and euphoric) singing of birds, and spotting species I haven't seen since before winter began. In the harbor, on the lake, and in nearby ponds I've noticed ducks and geese pairing up. In the parks, red-winged blackbirds have been extremely vocal about their territories.

So what if it's been cloudy and gray?

The sun will return in good time.

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