#72: The Fall of Roam

October 12th, 2012

I call it Eagles weather because I don henleys.

It’s autumn in Chicago, when the leaves turn shades non-colorblind people tell me aren’t brown and the squirrels get fat in time to die. The nights get colder, the days get shorter and some of the currency exchanges might put paper pumpkins in the windows if they can be bothered.

It’s when the C’s on sporting goods change from red to orange.

So now it’s time to get the hell out of town. At least for a day.

The girl and I are headed off to the wilds of what Chicagoans call downstate, even though it’s north of here. We’re heading to the magical Northern Illinois land I called home for the first nearly 18 years of my life.

We’re going to look at trees that aren’t caged in cement. We’re going to eat apple donuts.

We’re going to scratch that wanderlust itch that hits Chicagoans of means once a year when they’ve just got to get a pumpkin from a place that smells like hay.

Chicago is beautiful in the fall in its own little way. People break out the heavy coats, which is nice. Sweaters look good on people. Old Polish guys’ mustaches start coming in thicker and fuller in preparation for the coming cold.

But the beauty is a rare one for Chicago — one where it gets outdone. Nothing compares to Northern Illinois or Southern Wisconsin in the fall, in my biased opinion. Nothing hits me better than those apple donuts.

So we wander in fall. We roam the region. It’s not just to see the trees and cart back pumpkins we could have gotten from the Jewel. It’s a last walkabout before we hunker down for a cold Chicago winter, where even the meek, gray sun seems to peek out only to swear at you.

Chicago is still home in winter — what other place could be? But fall is the last time people can get out for a day trip, the last time getting in a car for a few hours is anything but an unnecessarily icy risk.

We go, we get the pumpkins and drink the cider in perfect Eagles weather before we slouch back home for a four-month slumber.

Next year, we’ll do it again.

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