Spring in Chicago is shy at first. The ivy at Wrigley is still brown sticks in early April, and we have to wear winter gear to the ballpark sometimes. But on that first warm day of the year, even before the leaves have appeared on the trees, the whole city promenades on the streets. Everybody giggles, not knowing what to do with themselves.
Then one day all the trees are blooming with green, red and yellow tulips sprout from dreams, the warm southern wind brings all the sailboats back to their harbors on the lake, and anything and everything is possible.
We don’t think of the gray landscape of winter in the middle of July, but that frozen memory sticks to everyone’s tongues like an icy flagpole. We live for summer in Chicago and can’t stand being inside between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
From the lake beaches jammed with family picnics to the parks and country clubs humming with fun, the city is energized with thousands of things to do at every luscious minute. Chicago has 217 distinct neighborhoods, and every one it seems has a festival or block party going on all the time. The days are endless, and the city soaks in the rays in its bathing suit and sunglasses.
Fall is a paradox, a colorful tease, an ending and a beginning. We need a holiday to remind us that summer can’t last, and the leaves will fall in blazes of protest. But fall is a new school year, a new Bears season, a new harvest.
Chicago comes together in the stands at Soldier Field and at Thanksgiving tables. And despite the passing of the summer greens and the coming snow, many Chicagoans say fall is their favorite season—there’s something sentimental in they way the leaves cling to the branches, in the way families come together to rake them.
By the time the last leaf has fallen, we’ve turned our attention inside. Winter is why Chicagoans have a special attachment to their cozy homes. We like to have a welcoming base to hibernate in.
And we may complain about the notoriously cold months, but winter is filled with sublime beauty: the snow-covered boughs in the park, the stillness of the frozen lake, the vapors rising from the buildings downtown, the holiday lights in all the neighborhoods. While summer makes us appreciate our fortunate wealth outdoors, winter makes us appreciate friends and family—what matters most, and what’s closest to our hearts.