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March X – Chicago Magazine

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Remember spring? He visited Chicago on Monday afternoon. At the West Ridge Nature Reserve, near Western and Peterson, people fished, cycled in shorts and held their little ones by the arms to walk around the sleeveless pond. On Tuesday morning we woke up from a gray sky, rain and the temperature was neither heat nor cold 47 degrees, which is an inversion of the previous high of 74 degrees.

March is the most endless month in the Land of the Great Lakes, because it promises spring, but does not give in full. Birthday came at 10:33 a.m. Sunday, but no one can say for sure that spring is here. The only greenery in the reserve was a garbage container in the park area. Most likely, we are going through a cold, difficult transition between the seasons, which offers neither entertainment of what we leave – sledding, skating, skiing – nor the one we expect – sailing, rollerblading, playing on the beach. People who move to Texas because they can’t hack the weather in Chicago like to complain about winter. But in the winter on the street there is something to do, and you can congratulate yourself for doing it in 10-degree weather. There is no fun or fame in unbuttoning your Lands ’End Squall jacket, opening your umbrella and going to the bus stop. March, not January should drive people to the tropics.

The novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who grew up in Indianapolis and later lived in Cape Cod, called this time of year “Unlocking” – a preparation for spring, but not the time of year. Indeed, buds appeared at the ends of the branches, but they had not yet opened the leaves inside. Even birds know this: diapers, sparrows, tonagra and thrushes return from Mexico and South America only in April and May.

“The poetry of the four seasons is wrong for this part of the world, and that may explain why we have been in such a depression for so long,” Vonnegut writes. Vonnegut was usually depressed, whatever the weather, but a sad March gave him a good excuse. “March and April are not spring. They unlock. What else can be a tough March and just a little less tough April? ”

Villa Keter was also annoyed by March. In her novel Shadows on the rock, about a French settlement in Quebec, she wrote, “It was a long, slow spring, March, April, early May, that was testing. By that time, the winter shops were over, people were tired of improvisations, and not a single bud. “

The name March comes from Mars, the Roman god of war. But March is not a very good month to start a war. Tanks and artillery can get stuck in the mud. Russia started the war in late February. They have it bad. The Anglo-Saxons, who at this time of year it is rougher than the Italians, had a better name: Hyld monathwhich means a stormy month.

In a children’s proverb, March is described as “entered like a lion, will come out like a lamb,” meaning that it begins in the harsh winter and ends in the mild spring. This implies predictability and a steady transition to spring, which is not part of the nature of the moon, at least here. One of the strongest blizzards in Chicago occurred on March 25-26, 1930, when the city fell 18 inches. Elizabeth Bishop began her poem “End of March” with the lines “It was cold and windy, almost no day / stroll along this long beach”. The bishop lived in Maine, but we can expect the same here. More than any other month March contains weather all year round.

As Vonnegut and Keter noted, April often continues the spring teasing with which March began. Four years ago, the Cubs canceled the match on April 8 because Wrigley Field was covered in snow. During the infamous false spring of 2011, the high temperature on April 28 was 46 degrees. By the time the warm weather finally arrived, in early May, less than four months remained until September.

When will we see spring again? This is not in the calendar. The 10-day forecast, which is valid until the first week of April, shows that the temperature does not exceed 54 degrees. As William Cullen Bryant wrote, quite right, March, “past few talking / Wild stormy month! praise be to Thee. However, Bryant liked March because “in your reign of explosion and storm / Smiles many long, bright, sunny days / When the winds change soft and warm / And the sky puts on my blue.”

At least we had one such day in March.

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