Hi, Chicago. There will still be afternoons in Hyde Park.
I know you’re probably deep in ice and snow and seasonal depression by now, so here’s a note to remind you September afternoons will be back some day.
There will be warm late-summer days where you’ve got a free 40 minutes before the event you’re covering, where you wander to a little Greek diner on the corner of 57th and Blackstone. There will be outdoor seating areas where you sit in the sun, roll up your sleeves and wave off a sluggish, lazy fly from the table, a bug as sun-warmed and well-fed as you’re about to be.
There will be people walking dogs as an excuse to meander the neighborhood, not as a grim obligation to be completed as soon as humanly and humanely possible. There will be gentle bird chirps and a smiling woman to take your order for iced tea and a burger for you to munch on as you lean back in the warming afternoon sun.
There will be french fries.
You’ll see U of C kids stroll by, walking their bikes. You’ll eavesdrop on the questions the middle-aged couple also in the outdoor seating keep asking the Chicago cops on lunch break. You’ll hear the breeze through fat, thick leaves. And you’ll feel the glow of the sun on your rolled-up sleeves as you take that first sip of iced tea.
I’m sure there will be days ahead of snow and slipping on sidewalks and streets lined with lawn chairs. I’m sure there will be parkas and those Hannibal Lecter-style winter masks so common since we saw them on traffic cops and wanted our own.
I’m sure your feet and fingers will be cold for hours even after you get home and make a massive cup of tea.
But it’s OK, Chicago. I want you to know that. Because late-summer lunches in Hyde Park will be back, and trips to North Ave. Beach in the thick of June. And airshows and beer gardens and lying on the grass in the park under a tree and realizing you just woke up there. There will be bikes and shorts and the desire to take clothes off instead of adding on and on.
You’ll be back under the sun eating a hamburger and sipping iced tea with no thought in your mind that winter ever existed.