I was a real brown-noser in elementary school. I loved being teacher's pet to the point I wanted to stay in the classroom during lunch to "hang-out". I also use to to bring my teachers flowers. Sometimes I would break off fragrant purple and white lilacs growing from the bushes behind our house, but most often I would pick from my neighbor's garden. Tulips, Hyacinths (mmmmmm) and daffodils. I even had the foresight to form and fill a little tinfoil vase with water and then walk a few doors down to pick those brightly colored delights; the 15 minute walk to school would otherwise be the death of them.
Then I got busted. I still remember the sound of hard, rapid tapping behind me on a window pane as I pulled a handful of tulips from their well-watered plot. I turned to see an old lady frantically wagging her finger while visibly irritated with me...the round-faced kid with HUGE, same-as-my- flesh-colored goggles. Fair enough. I was a jerk.
Why am I telling you this? I don't really know. I think of this story every spring when I am aching for the weather to turn. How frustrated must that old lady felt when those little reminders of a warmer season kept disappearing every morning? And I also dream of the multitude of spring activities awaiting us once the temps start to rise.
Below is a list of THREE fun outdoor Chicago activities to help you and your family to welcome spring. Or just you if you are sick of your family. And worry not, this is only my first post in a series of three!
1. Stand under the El and scream. Seriously. I spent the first eight years of my life in Chicago and next to eating amazing (and highly processed) foods from a machine in a Lincoln Park laundry mat, this activity was one of my favorites. Our walks to and from school were punctuated with stops under the El tracks for a healthy bout of yelling. EK now does this whenever we see a train (note that we aren't necessarily under the train for it to trigger a screaming session) . You can obviously do this year-round, but it certainly assists in releasing aggression built-up over the course of the winter months.
2. Visit the scrap metal yard. If you live in Wicker Park or Bucktown, you might wonder where all of the scrap metal guys go with their shopping carts overflowing with junk. The metal recycling yard is just behind Trader Joe's on Clybourn Avenue. We use visits to the yard as a reward for EK; he contains his rage during haircuts at the egregiously expensive place across the street and we get to hang out and watch cars get crushed.
If I can't find free street parking (you know I am NOT going to pay a meter), I park behind the self-storage building and "ask" the guy working at the desk if we can park in their lot for a bit (tip: pinch your kid to make the guy say "yes" even faster). Then we head as close to the giant machinery as our wussy hearts will allow and watch as cars are picked up by a magnet the size of Italy, smashed and then dropped onto a conveyor belt to be melted into a one inch square... or something. You can also watch the machines work from the Cortland bridge over the river, but that isn't as fun as being close enough to inhale noxious fumes.
On a side note, I am pretty sure the scrap collectors stole our grill. Twice.
3. And if you are already endangering your kid's (kids') life/ves at the junk yard, head on over to Clybourn Park for some old school fun. First, it's super close to the junkyard and I am lazy, er, into walking? No, lazy. My husband disagrees with this choice because the park is a little dilapidated, but it's not like we found any needles or anything. I enjoy it because the El rolls smack through the park, kids are usually playing basketball which is a fun backdrop for the littler ones, and the park offers a vintage slide that reminds me of childhood summers spent in Orland Park. PLUS, I haven't come across any outwardly judgey parents/nannies because anyone who goes there with their kids is slightly off.
Check back tomorrow for suggestions on indoor activities for those crappy rainy days.
And I am not sure if our new place has any perennials planted, but if so, you are free to take them. I figure one year of open pickin' season will wipe the slate. Happy funning!