Autumn Calling

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I wish autumn was longer. Of course, I could just as well say I wish the days didn’t get shorter, or the sun would rise just a little more to the left, but still, I do. The transformation seasons here in Chicago are the city at its most graceful, shrugging off the heavy coat of winter in the spring, and slipping it back on again in the fall.

There is that crispness that belongs only to autumn, found on fresh, new mornings, which doesn’t last. It gives way to more and more frigid air, until the freshness is dried right out of it. And the leaves, showing off their fiery colors, quickly escape the trees, finding new homes underfoot and on the roofs and windows of parked cars.

But perhaps the brevity is what makes it so beautiful. Maybe it’s the truth that autumn is the embodiment of transience, we are watching change with each day. Winter hulks over the city for months, planting itself firmly, refusing to budge. Summer makes its presence known and revels in all the novelty it brings.

But fall and spring, they’re seasons on the way to something else. And they seem to know it, so they give us all the glory they have to offer, fast and delicate, before they are gone.

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An Open Window

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Well, I’m pretty excited. That Aunty Ida announcement is coming tomorrow, and so is the start of a contest, complete with prize! So yay! Visit tomorrow and see what I have in store. It should be fun, I think. Come back, and bring your friends.

On an entirely different note, I opened my window today, something I haven’t been able to do much during the day with the facade work, but this morning it rained, a serious kind of rain, with thunder and lightning. Eventually it tapered off, but the platforms stayed grounded, so there are no saws, no drilling.

The traffic is amplified by the water under the wheels, the roads are still wet, and it looks like it will rain again, as though it’s only a matter of time. It’s soothing, though, the noise, unlike that I’ve had to get used to, it’s like white noise, the kind you never quite hear.

The air smells clean and fresh, and the day seems unhurried, unconcerned whether more rain comes or it doesn’t. The breeze isn’t as strong as I had hoped before I shoved the sash upward, but it seems like a wind that’s waiting for further instruction, not yet clear if it needs to pick up or not.

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Today I’m in a Fog

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Yesterday there were intermittent storms, and today, it’s fog. Thick, bright, nearly white fog so dense It’s all I see when I look out of the the window.

Talk about having your head in the clouds.

It’s strange, this translucent blanket over the world. It looks almost as though my windows have turned to that glass that changes its own opacity electronically. The future is truly amazing, but I digress.

Where the rain seemed to enclose everything, draw everything together, the fog wedges it all apart into sections, the seen and unseen, the close enough to be visible, and the far enough away to feel as though it’s part of another world, one impossible to imagine through the wall of tiny droplets.

But the sound isn’t muffled. There’s no air of waiting, like there was with the storm. No, it’s business as usual out there, even when no one can see what lies 100 yards ahead.

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The Storm Makes an Entrance

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I love watching a storm come in. Well, as long as I’m not going to be caught in it, that is.

But it’s amazing to see the sky lose all color until it’s a sea of whites to grays to blacks, layers of smudges across the sky. Hear the air grow quiet, the sound muffled, as it seems like all of nature is waiting, waiting for those first drops, for that first crack of thunder.

The air feels different, heavier, full, and then it’s like the clouds are toying with us, leaving us to wonder when. Not yet, not yet, but still they look impossibly heavy, as though the weight of them will crash them right back down to earth.

The light changes, loses itself in the clouds, and everything below looks like an early color photograph when the colors weren’t too sure of themselves.

Then I can see the rain in the distance, blurring everything between me and it, softening the lines. And I know that soon, soon, it will be here too.

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June Undecided Sky

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There’s a moment, when the sky grows dark and grayness takes to the air, where it can go either way. It can rain, or it can not rain. You may sit, half-tensed and not even aware of it, waiting for that first crack of thunder.

I can see it, sometimes, the sheet of rain coming in the distance, spreading a haze of water a bit at a time until suddenly the whole air is filled with it. Sometimes the rain makes things quieter, muted.

Some days it starts and goes on like that for hours, going in rounds of misty rain and huge, intense drops. And other times it’s here and gone in a moment, an indecisive drizzle finished almost when it started.

But the funny thing is that the sky looks the same, sometimes. Heavy, waterlogged. It’s what the sky will do with it we never seem to know.

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Spring for a Day

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Yesterday, it was bright and springy, the air a mix of cold and warm, just enough to be refreshing. The sky was a freshly-scrubbed blue, and the sun a reminder that it could bring heat along with light.

Stretches of sidewalks were dry, as though the snow had never been there at all, it was all a long, gray, arctic dream. I felt hope, for the first time since November, that maybe the end of winter was near.

It was not a long-lasting hope.

No, today the sky is a dull cap of clouds, and huge swathes of ice still cling to the brown, muddy earth. It’s supposed to rain, and then snow. More snow. Again.

But maybe yesterday was a  promise that, no matter how bleak things might seem, the spring will always work to force its way through. It just might take a while.

Is It Anything But Winter Yet?

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Everything looks icy today. The ground, the lake, the sky; it’s all a uniform shade of dull white, the kind with enough gray in it to make it heavy.

It’s been a long winter, and there is yet more to go still. I’m told the groundhog saw his shadow. I don’t think we needed his prognostication.

After weeks and weeks and weeks of it, it awakens something in you, something ancient beyond the humanity of us, something that makes you want to take to a soft bed with a pile of blankets and a television loud enough to drown out the wind.

 

Cold is a Matter of Degrees

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Well, it’s happened. Fourteen degrees sounds warm. Yes, 14. Not 40. At this point, 40 degrees sounds like tank-top weather.

After days with highs with a minus sign in front of them, two digits next to one another sounds mighty toasty. Of course, my feelings on that point might change when the wind is scraping off the top layer of my skin, but still.

Stupid polar vortex.

Perhaps the cruelest part is the bright sunshine, sunshine where the sun is little more than a paper disk in the sky, mocking us. It’s hard to remember in days like this what it is like to run out out the door without layers, without a coat, without my extra-long scarf that might be a little too long.

But spring will come. Eventually.

Sometimes, I Really Wish I Could Paint

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Heading down the Drive yesterday, the lake a combination of ice and icy blue, a world of pinks graduating upward, the city stalwart against the chill, and the trees each coated in a soft blanket of frost, I lamented, not for the first time, my inability to paint.

I can take photographs, sure, but it wasn’t an option and the time was fleeting.

And a photograph wouldn’t have captured all of it, the tone, the mood, the colors you can sense but don’t actually see. That is something painting can do, to take what is real, what we can know, and make it clearer. Record it in the way it was remembered rather than the way it was.

Snow and Snow and Snow Again

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It snowed again last night. The dire predictions piled up like the not-yet-fallen snow was supposed to, lots of snow, traffic-snarling snow.

We’ve had snow like that, you see. Recently.

So I tucked in and the wind howled, and I prepared to open my blinds to a world of white and car-trodden gray, under a flat sky. Nope.

Not this time, weather.

Only a polite covering and passable streets and fluffy, light clouds in the sky.