Ahh, March. Spring is finally here! (Cue sound of screeching brakes). As every veteran of Great Lakes season changes will tell you, spring in Chicago (at least meteorologically) doesn’t really start until June 15th. And then it only lasts for a few hours. But we are hearty stock, so despite the fact it can snow on Memorial Day, we have timehonored rituals that remind us that despite the weather, we’re sprung.
1 Time Change
The collective sigh of relief we all exhale on that spring-forward Sunday tells us that the long, dark confining slog of another urban winter is behind us. There’s something so liberating about the sun’s mid-evening departure. We now perform this federally mandated act in March when it almost feels too early, like opening Christmas gifts on Thanksgiving, giving us little to look forward to in April (see Thundersnow).
2 Opening Day
Depending on your Major League preference, opening day is a time-honored tradition of preparing to make that World Series run again or simply acknowledging that next year is finally here. Either way it’s always cold, at least on the North Side. There is something almost mystical about the fact that Cubs openers have featured snow, even if the Sox opener was a week prior in sun-drenched 60-degree temps. The Wrigley opening day looks less like a scene from The Natural and more like a scene from Doctor Zhivago. Every year the curse seems more plausible. WLS Radio’s Roe Conn takes us through seasonal splendor. Welcome to spring in Chicago, bundle up!
3 Smelt Fishing
Honestly, this one I don’t get. Every April, hundreds of intrepid fishermen descend on the concrete shoreline casting their nets into a lake of dreams in the hope of pulling back a treasure of tiny fish that look a lot more like something scampering across a recently illuminated kitchen floor than a delicacy of the sea. Save your angry emails and letters; it’s me, not you.
4 The First Nice Day
Giving double meaning to the phrase, “hope springs eternal,” the first nice weekend day of the spring (sunny and 62) brings out all of the beautiful people. Oak Street, Armitage and yes our namesake, the Boul Mich, are crawling with disoriented crowds seemingly hatched from Fabergé eggs. On display in their finest spring and summer fashion, unfortunately 62 is really 42 within a half-mile of the lake—a fact tragically missed by those with bare skin bulging from tank tops and shorts.
Following the first stretch of sustained springlike air, the meteorological gods send us the reminder, “This ain’t exactly South Beach.” By mid-March, Texas-bred low-pressure monsters roll up the Mississippi River Valley and just over Chicago meet the last blast of arctic air… LOOK OUT! At least the piles of heavy accumulate look downright cinematic when lit by ionic discharge. Don’t attempt to shovel it, though—it will melt by the time you’re released from the hospital from any resultant injury or illness.
6 Easter Brunches
Regardless of your religious proclivity, God endorses this excursion. Downtown hotels, restaurants and private clubs fill with those hoping against hope they can eat their way toward breaking even, despite triple-digit price tags. However, these events (mostly buffets) are well worth it, especially if you line your pockets and purses with Ziploc bags.