Springtime in Chicago

A Matter of Semantics

Springtime is the season of blossoms and light green leaves bursting out of the branches of the hearty trees that stood tall during the winter.  Brightly-colored sprouts push out of the soil and offer yellow daffodils and white tulips and the world awakes from its cold slumber.  Yet, “spring” is a relative term.  In Florida, Spring Break implies adult refreshment on a sunny, sandy beach, but when Son #2 and I headed to the Windy City for his Spring Break, Mother Nature clearly had forgotten to advise Northern Illinois of the change in season.  Admittedly, compared to late January, the version of winter we experienced more accurately may be described as a Midwestern Spring, but again, it’s all relative.

Winter coats felt like a must, and it wasn’t just us thin-blooded southerners.  The subways were awash in dark peacoats and hunched-over passengers trying to keep the wind away when the El’s car doors opened and whisked in more passengers and more chill.  The rain felt frigidly cold on our skin, even if it didn’t accumulate along the sidewalks as a sloshy, snowy mix.  Despite the scarves and hats and boots and layers in which we wrapped ourselves, the wind found our weather-wear weaknesses and exposed us to its twisting, blustering madness.  This gloomy drizzle defined Chicago’s version of spring, but it just wasn’t the version of spring I excitedly anticipate.

Hope for the Season

So off we set into the city where we discover our own springtime in the paintings and sculptures of the art museum, and as we force our extended family to hold hands playfully through the galleries recreating a Ferris Bueller field trip.  We submerge ourselves in the U-Boat exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry and laugh at the crowd of tourists waiting for an elevator, yet failing to press the call button.  We take an express elevator to the top of the Willis Tower (even though everyone on the planet knows it as the Sears Tower), and witness for ourselves a view across Lake Michigan, northward into Wisconsin, and south into the farming heartland.  From this vantage, it seems perfectly obvious that despite Old Man Winter’s best attempt to disguise the city, spring has crept into the City of the Big Shoulders.

And then we find the proof in a green lawn with the hint of fresh growth sprouting on the ivy of the far brick wall.  Despite the thermometer’s reading, the spirit of awakening and rebirth arrives in the hopes of Cubs fans gathering at Wrigley Field for the first game of the season.  The joyous exuberance of being back in the cozy field, ball hawks chasing the fly balls from batting practice, t-shirts, pennants, and players faces on a myriad of trading cards for sale from dozens of make-shift

stores line the pathway from the red line to the gates.  And there the famous sign proclaims, “Welcome to Opening Day!”  Robert Redford himself takes the mound and hurls his Roy Hobbs pitch towards home plate.  The crowd removes their well-worn, beloved Cubbie caps for the singing of the national anthem, and suddenly it is springtime in Chicago.  Maybe this is the year that the notorious streak without a Series win fades away and this first day, this beginning of a new season, this sign of springtime arriving after the brutal winter brings a fresh lightness of spirit and hope for the beloved boys of summer.