10 signs of Chicago 'Fallification'

It’s hard to believe earlier this week we were in shorts, T-shirts and flipflops. I was warned the seasons changed quickly in Chicago but I didn’t imagine temperature-wise, it would be from one day to the next. Especially when nothing happened on September 23, the Autumnal Equinox. I know we’ll probably have a few more short-sleeve days before the real cooling down, but here are my 10 signs Fall has well and truly fallen. Even if the leaves haven’t yet.

A glimpse of what's to come

A glimpse of what’s to come

1. Frenetic road surface repairs. Fall is the season of smells: woodsmoke fires, burning leaves – and fresh asphalt. The pace of re-paving seems to have picked up and I can understand why. The countdown to winter has begun and I’m going to pay attention to those hardworking guys out there  – when they all disappear, we’re in trouble.

2. I’ve already started wearing my Defcon 3 puffer coat. You know the light one, the one that would masquerade as a full-on winter coat in many a city or continent but which here is just the first stage in the build-up to the big fella, the Defcon 1, the top-to-tail, head-to-toe comforter cocoon. The one we’ll probably need next week when winter begins.

3. The first coloured lights have been installed in the trees in Lincoln Park Zoo. And I’m guessing they’re not just for Fall Fest but also for the winter wonderland that is Zoolights during the Holiday season. With over 2 million lights to put up, you can’t blame them for starting a little early.

4.  There are daily predictions in one news outlet or another about how cold our winter will be. Or won’t be. Or will be. Or won’t be….

5. Roofing, guttering and tuckpointing. The signs have actually been there for a while – on the vans of the many workmen who are chipping and tucking and fixing in my street as frenetically and for exactly the same reason as the guys in no 1. This time I’ll read them – as I probably need to call them now to book for next year.

6. Oktoberfests. This says Chicago Fall in 2 ways for me – firstly everyone wants one last chance to have a street party and drink a beer in the sun before they go into forced hibernation. Secondly, given it’s Chicago, just to make sure they can have one last street party and drink a beer in the sun, many of them take place in September. Please note, our block is holding ours this weekend but I’m thinking of serving hot mulled wine given the temperature is going to be in the 50s. So dirndls and Defcon 3 coats.

7. Runners. And more runners. And more runners. It’s taken me a couple of years to understand why there seemed to be more runners at the end of the summer when the bathing costumes had been packed away with the sunscreen. Ah yes, the Marathon. And then afterwards, poof!  Just like magic, they’re all gone.

8. The garden furniture is being put away. Except for one chair. Perhaps it’s got a broken leg, perhaps it’s a little too rusty to be used next year. But it has a purpose – it’s being given a second chance as a great Chicago institution. It’s this winter’s ‘holding your shovelled-out street parking spot’ chair otherwise known as ‘dibs’.

9. You see the city skyline in a whole new light(s). And for a lot longer. Because it gets dark so early.

10. And perhaps my favourite – you can walk along the lakeshore beach with your dog, and when you come back that way again, quite often your footprints are still the only ones there.

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  • This is very accurate and very depressing at the same time. I feel like it was just July 4th.

  • In reply to phillyjoe:

    Just regained full use of fingers phillyjoe after being outside all day yesterday for Oktoberfest. Nothing like the low 50s to erase all memories of the summer of '15.

  • Runners: It avoids the problem one year that it was about 90 degrees on the regularly scheduled day for the Chicago Marathon, although the Kenyans should have been able to cope.

    You could have moved to upstate NY, where Oktoberfest is usually early September.

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