I don’t understand what I’m looking at anymore. It’s 6:30 in the morning on April 9th–I repeat–APRIL 9th and the branches outside are all white. There’s a dusting of snow on top of cars and the ground. Light snow is still falling from the sky.
In Game of Thrones, winter is coming. In Chicago, winter is staying. Winter has unpacked its suitcase, canceled the return flight. Spring is tied up in the basement, duct tape across its mouth, a dead bouquet of flowers at its feet.
And this is usually when the winter historians chime in: Actually, we’ve had snow in April before. We’ve even had snow on Mother’s Day. I remember back in 1922, the entire city was under a glacier, and there were Woolly Mammoths roaming Clark Street.
But I don’t take comfort in remembering how bad previous winters were. To me, that’s like getting a really bad stomach bug and your parents calling to say, “Hang in there, remember the chili dog incident of 2008?” Sure, the perspective is nice, but I’d rather not be thinking about either event; I’d rather be on a beach right now sipping from a bottle of Pepto Bismol.
I throw perspective out the window and go with a “winter amnesia” strategy. This strategy involves forgetting what winter is and convincing myself that it only runs until the end of February. I think if I truly sat down and said, “Ok, so Midwest winters run from November through the end of April… that’s one, two, three–wait, that’s half of the year?” I think the only next logical step is a move to California, Arizona, or Florida.
Now, to be fair, I respect winter. And I respect winter’s pursuit of “The Ultimate Streak.” For those unfamiliar with winter’s motives, you have to understand that winter has a lifelong goal of logging a small bit of snow in all 12 months of the year. That’s why you’ll see winter sometimes strike on Halloween; sure, it’s the 31st day of the month but it still counts as a victory for October. Same thing with the rare snow in May.
Winter is like a golfer trying to win the career grand slam or Cher trying to log a hit song in every single decade.
November, December, January, February. Those are easy. Winter is showing off at that point, smacking home runs out of the stadium.
But, come March, winter begins to slow down. Winter can only deliver one or two haymakers. That’s why some of the biggest snows of the year take place in March, it’s essentially winter saying, “This might be my last shot of the year, so dammit I’m going out with a bang.”
There has always been a mutual respect between us and the winter. We let winter chase “The Ultimate Streak” and winter has always agreed to a couple of key cease fires. For example, there is supposed to be a truce on St. Patrick’s Day. Doesn’t matter if it’s been under 10 degrees all week, Winter is supposed to shut it down for the day, let us dye the river green, take selfies in our t-shirts.
That didn’t happen this year. And there’s been no April truce either. Winter is off the rails at this point; it’s no longer chasing The Ultimate Streak, the new goal seems to be gobbling up entire seasons. I think all we’re going to see from Spring is a short performance at the end of May. It’ll be Spring nervously stepping on stage, “I’m singin’ in the rain, I’m singin’ in the rain, what a glor–” Alright, thanks for coming in. Summer, you’re up next.
We are not equipped to fight winter in the middle of April.
The zipper of my winter coat broke sometime in the middle of March. To be honest, I don’t know how to repair a zipper. I feel like the solution is either some paper clip attachment or going to a shady backroom at the dry cleaner.
But I wasn’t concerned. April was only a few weeks away. There’d be no need for a functioning zipper or a full winter coat for at least seven months. My solution was to put the coat away, hope that it would magically heal itself during the offseason.
The other thing is you don’t want to bring your boots back out of retirement. There is no bigger admittance of defeat than lacing up a pair of Wolverine boots a week after Easter. It’s better to be in denial; go out there in a pair of Sperrys, socks and sandals, flip flops, anything but the winter boots.
At this point, I feel like I’m Dwayne Johnson in those commercials for the movie Rampage.
Winter used to be my friend, a kind gorilla at the zoo. But something happened. He’s grown into a King Kong-sized monster, hellbent on destroying the city. Our only chance is to try and reach the heart, try and plead to that softer side. An appeal of friendship.
So here goes. Winter, if you’re listening, which I think you are because it’s started to snow even harder, but hey, we surrender. It’s been a truly impressive display of power. I’m not pulling out the history books because, well, honestly I don’t want you to feel like you need to one-up anything. This has been the worst–er, I mean the “best” winter of all time. If you’re still chasing The Ultimate Streak, hey, more power to you. But why not take the rest of April to refuel, store up everything you have left in the tank. Let Spring take over at the wheel, and then you can go for a big strike on May 1.
And you know what, no winter has ever landed a punch in June. I’d be fine with that trade too. Let us have an early start to summer in May and then you, like a 50-year-old Rocky Balboa, can go into extensive training, go study from the winters of Siberia, pick up some new tricks. I’m telling you, if you land a snow in June, you will be remembered forever. Doesn’t that sound more appealing?
Look, we’re waiving the white flag… which is really just the Chicago flag covered in snow. We surrender. Can we have April back?
Thank you for reading this post. I’ve been working on some other projects in March and April, but honestly when I woke up this morning freezing and saw the snow outside, writing this was like therapy to me. Like winter is supposed to do, I’ll be going back into hiding, store up ideas for May.
But, in the meantime, I am releasing something I call the “secret stash” every Wednesday in April. It only goes out to my email subscribers. So if you’d like to be part of that, just enter your email in the box below (or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). I think you’ll really enjoy the series.
And then one quick writing plug: if you’re looking for a new novel to read, consider giving Toilet Bowl a try. I like to think of it as Casablanca meets Saved by the Bell. It’s a story about love, friendship, and how to overcome internal worries and fears. I’ve included a trailer below.
Secret stash folks, I’ll see ya Wednesday. Everyone else, see ya back here in May. Happy… shoveling? 🙁