#304: Signs of Spring

April 7th, 2014

I saw the first one today, loud and chirping outside my new place. Bold and bright with plumage fluffed and unfurled to help attract a mate, he bobbed his head right, then left, then right again on lookout in the afternoon sun.

I moved past quietly, so as not to startle him. He cocked his head at me for a moment as I passed.

I smiled. Spring is here. I have seen the first pedicab driver.

As I went by the bike-rickshaw driver with the fluffed and waxed hipster mustache, I smiled. It was spring, finally, finally spring.

The signs of spring are different in an urban environment. No flaxen fields full of butterflies here. Instead, the turning of the seasons are marked by the return of pedicabs, smokers lingering outside buildings and dog walkers not cursing their pets for keeping them outside so long.

Unhealthy looking joggers are a sign of spring. These aren’t the lean and toned freakshows who get handsome by going all winter long. These are the fair weather joggers. The tubby and panting.

These are the people who let their legs lay fallow all winter in favor of cars, cabs and marathon cable television programming. Now they come, huffing and puffing, out of shape and out of practice wheezing down the road because it is spring, spring, spring.

Spring in Chicago is the shunk, shunk, shunk noise of the folks down the block playing bags as a little charcoal grill burns to readiness. It’s the daylight happy wanderers and the evening outdoor drunken breakdowns of who said what to who and I can’t believe she said that what a bitch.

The rat scurrying down a darkened alley is a sign of spring too.

It’s spring in a beautiful, ugly town. It’s spring in a place where we’ve forgotten what spring is. The endless winter ended. Now we step into the sun, taggers and yuppies, homeless and hipsters, wanderers, workers and all the rest that make up this odd Chicago and say, “Oh yeah. This is why we live here.”

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