Oh, My Beautiful Chicago

I was getting on the elevator in my building, chatting with the couple who got on with me (not everyone in my building is as awful as the pair I wrote about previously), and the gentleman mentioned the weather.

“Is summer in Chicago always this short?” he said. For anyone who might not live here, the past two days were hot. Not, “oh that’s what the sun feels like after eight months of cold,” hot, but “oh, that’s what the sun feels like when you live corona-adjacent” hot. Officially, they claimed 98 degrees, but my car said 102, at least on Tuesday (and my car was panting as it told me). When I told H, my little 8-year-old friend, that I thought it was an oven out, she was delighted. “I can’t wait to go back out in the oven,” she told me.

Today, it’s 56 degrees. We had raucous storms overnight, and instead of blazing June skies, it’s looking a little more like a depressed day in March, when the weather isn’t sure if it will ever pull itself together.

Thus the reason for the comment from my neighbor.

“No one’s ever told you that Chicago has 27 seasons?” I said.

“There are two seasons,” he retorted, dusting off the Chicago standard, “winter and construction.” It’s funny because it’s true.

It’s also disheartening because it’s true.

“No,” I said, “There are really 27. There’s winter. And then there’s deep winter. And then there’s winter when it thinks about being spring but changes its mind…”

The two of them had the good sense to find that amusing.

There was something so Chicago about the exchange. We watch our weather like other people follow sports, there’s probably a bookie somewhere who will give you some action on “cool Sunday morning and sunny, hitting a high of 85 and then going down to 46 overnight.” Actually, that bookie probably wouldn’t risk long odds on it.

But there’s a sense of pride underneath it, a badge of enduring it. An attitude of “we can take it, and we will take it,” to get those days when the city glimmers under skies that look imaginary.

It’s almost like our city with its changeable weather likes to see her citizens friendly and chatting, so she’s determined to give us something to chat about.


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