|The Air Force Thunderbirds at the 2011 Air and Water Show (JWB, 2011)|
Every summer there seems to be a time when the sands run low on the season, and I think more and more about flipping the whole thing over to watch another season slide by. In recent years that moment seems to come with the last day of the Air and Water Show. When they start to dismantle the elaborate set-up that stretched nearly all the way from Oak Street to Fullerton Avenue, it seems as if they are carting away summer along with all the porta-johns and venders’ tents.
Back in another life when I was heading back to the classroom for another year of selling ideas to young people and dragging home a rucksack full of essays every night, the break came in the middle of August.
At least in retirement I’m able to milk the season for another couple weeks.
This morning I got up before 6:00, and it was still dark outside. Several hours later I got on my bike and rode down to the Chicago Architecture Foundation to give a tour. The beaches, filled with folks just a couple of weeks ago, were deserted. Tomorrow it will be September, and the break with a long and often glorious summer will be complete.
It’s always sad to see the summer slipping into the past. That’s especially true in a Midwestern city where the contrast between the locust-lined boulevards of July and the stinging spray of a February ice storm seems so pronounced.
There’s a world of difference between a cutie at the North Avenue beach, playing volleyball in a bikini and the same young thing on the 151, wearing a parka and calf-high Huggs.
It was a great summer. Just look around . . . there’s ample evidence of that. There was a nearly perfect combination of sun and rain. It’s hard to remember the last time we got to this point in the season with everything so filled with life. Stroll through the garden in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the display around St. Gaudens’s Storks at Play is breath-taking.
Even those crazy palm trees down at the Oak Street beach are still reasonably green.
So we’ll ratchet it back a notch or two and wait for the trees to change and the leaves to fall. The nights will be cooler, the sun will set earlier, and we will remember the days we spent in the sunlight even as we look forward to watching those volleyball games down at North Avenue again.
We'll be a year older, but the age of those good looking kids down there in the sand never changes.