With the calendar turning to March, let's face it, the worst is pretty much over and now our thoughts are turning to spring. Chicago takes its spring quite seriously after surviving Chi-beria winters, the polar vortex, potholes, below zero wind chills and our beloved dibs.
Out of hibernation we come, pasty white, dry cracked skin and all. We earn this shiny badge of heartiness and wear it proudly on our big shoulders. No warm, sunny day is ever taken for granted in this toddlin' town.
My top 10 things are in no particular order but reflect the best things about our first thaw.
#1 At the beginning of the Spring Awakening, even if there is still a bit of snow on the ground, you are bound to find an abundance of brave souls (usually men, and what's not to love!) parading outside in shorts.
#2 Outdoor cafes pop up outside just about every restaurant or coffee shop that has a slab of concrete. No space is wasted, even if it's on Wabash in the Loop right under the el tracks on a small patch of sidewalk. No one wants to dine indoors on our tight, fair weather schedule, gas fumes and all.
#3 The Blackhawks will be in the throes of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After three championships in six years, let's keep this dynasty healthy and up to speed for another run. Marian Hossa deserves a fourth trip to the White House, another double decker-bus parade and a "sea of red" celebration in Grant Park. Oh hell, what I am saying, they all deserve it. As I said, Grant Park NOT Soldier Field and PLEASE slow down the buses! Rest your vocal cords, "He Scores!" Pat Foley, and let's crank up some of that Chelsea Dagger. "That's hockey, baby!"
#4 Gorgeous rainbows of color in the form of tulips sprout in the planters along Michigan Avenue. You can't walk down the street and not have a bounce in your step and a major attitude adjustment. You may even be tempted to put on a pair of shorts. Oh wait, maybe not if you have those pasty white legs that have been hiding since September.
#5 The Chicago River bridges are raised in a staggering engineering feat to open boating season. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, recreational boats make their trip from winter storage out to Lake Michigan and into their harbor homes for the summer. Drivers may get annoyed, but it certainly is a sight to see for the rest of us.
#6 Baseball season begins on the North and South sides. The crack of Kyle Schwarber's bat hitting a home run that smashes an unsuspecting automobile windshield outside Wrigley Field is the sweetest sound in Chicago sports. Well, maybe the sound of a triple overtime goal in a Stanley Cup playoff win by Andrew Shaw is just a bit sweeter.
#7. The Streets and Sanitation salt trucks and plows are put in storage for the winter. Need I say more?
#8. Water Taxis begin taking commuters and tourists from Ogilvie and Union train stations south to Chinatown and north to the Michigan Avenue bridge. Commuting has never been more relaxing and stress free. And who doesn't like a boat ride?
#9 Chicago Journeyman Plumbers use almost fifty pounds of vegetable dye to turn the Chicago River into a neon green fantasy pool in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Although the river is only green for a few hours, it's been a Chicago tradition for over fifty years and draws thousands of revelers of Irish ancestry and those pretending to be.
#10 Everyone just seems happier. There is a deep feeling of satisfaction that we survived another brutally cold and snowy winter and now it's time to put the winter coats and boots away, shed our layers and kick up our heels. Of course compared to winter 1977-78 this one was a cinch. Get outside for some much needed vitamin D and celebrate spring because the clock is already ticking.