San Diego has perfect weather all year, I hear.Chicago does not. Of course, I hear that mostly from people who live there who used to live here. Pretty satisfied with themselves, they don’t know how we stand it, living here. I’d like to explain why a life in Chicago has more to offer than life in a perfect climate like theirs.
1. Fall, any fall, but especially this fall with its crystal clear sunlight and trees that turn a little more each day from lush green to yellows and shots of red. We can drive down the Outer Drive and catch the turning trees on one side and the sparkling aqua lake on the other.
We know what is coming and dread the day when they turn off Buckingham Fountain for the year. So soon, we’ll say, not yet, give us a few more days. But because we know what is coming, we know to cherish what we’ve got while we’ve got it. We know enough to be grateful for every leaf, every warm velvety breeze. We are not complacent; we are aware. We appreciate.
2. Winter gives us something different. We lose the joy of perfect days and easy passage, in the face of the wind, the temps, the snow. But in balance, we get the warm glow of home and the cozy comfort of down coats and sturdy scarves as we fight to get there. As those Californians sit smugly sipping wine on their decks, we look out at snow drifting down.
If you have ever traveled their way during the winter, you know their secret: as soon as it drops below say 55 degrees, the San Diegans haul out their scarves and hats and coats as if they need them. It’s kind of sad.
Even though we know that pretty soon we will have to go out and shovel that snow, we can capture for a few minutes the magic it held in childhood. By the end of the season, if we can keep our tempers and leave each others’ shoveled parking spots alone, we develop a certain pride in our ability to withstand hardship. And then comes the next reason.
3. Spring - one day we walk outside and there is the hint of warm moisture in the air, and the scent of earth. When the temp hits 40 degrees, our hearts leap, and at 55, we are changing wardrobes too, back to hoodies and baseball caps. We did it again, and here is our reward – sunshine and birds and Cubs games. It is more glorious for the contrast.
4. Summer is tricky here – just as we get languorous and sated by the warmth and sun, and comfortable in the delusion that they will last forever, we get the August alarm of Back to School sales and baseball team collapses. We panic and realize we’ve barely been to the beach yet, and forgot to go to the Movies in the Park, or to the dance lessons in Millennium Park. We turbo-finish summer just in time to start the cycle again.
5. Perspective when we look at the range of emotions we have in a year, from joy to melancholy to wonder to hope. And the range of sensory experiences from the locusts’ call to the beauty of the leaves to the silence of snowfall to the warmth of the sun. And the accomplishments that each season demands from us, the flexibility to take what comes and make the most of it.
I wouldn’t miss a day.