weather

Morning

Rain falling through oak trees.
A crackle of thunder opened my eyes and grey rain fell in sheets through the trees, which were sometimes still and sometimes writhing.  Pebbles and disks of snow bounced to the ground, incongruous.

Tonight, a nearly full moon has risen through a clear sky and these same now-silent trees.  An owl of some kind is bleating with its mate in the dark, a sound new to us and strange.

Conditions at O’Hare

Conditions at O’Hare

We are at O'Hare waiting to board a plane to Boston for our niece's wedding.

We are at O’Hare waiting to board a plane to Boston for our niece’s wedding.

Even when we were in the cab, we could see the storm moving in.  By the time we reached the gate, a dramatic cloud was overhead.

Even when we were in the cab heading to the airport, we could see the storm moving in. By the time we reached the gate, a dramatic cloud was overhead.

The heavens opened.  Departures were halted.

The heavens opened. Departures were halted.

It really came down.  There was plenty of thunder and lightning.

It really came down. There was plenty of thunder and lightning.

I would rather be bored and on the ground than in the air at such times.  I was once in a plane that was hit by lightning.  Not fun.

I would rather be bored and on the ground than in the air at such times. I was once in a plane that was hit by lightning. Not fun.

The rain is tapering off, but I imagine we'll be here for at least another hour.

The rain is tapering off, but I imagine we’ll be here for at least another hour.  Fortunately, there is a Berghoff Cafe right near our gate.

Tipping into spring

Gulls on the North Pond in Lincoln Park, Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

There is always a day that proclaims winter to be over, when the universe nudges the earth irrevocably toward spring.  In Chicago, today was that day.  The trees are unmistakably budding, and the North Pond is suddenly crowded with birds.

The grass beginning to green near the Nature Museum, Chicago © 2013 Celia Her City

The grass near the Nature Museum is turning an unfamiliar shade.  Daffodils are suddenly blooming or budding.

Crowds flock to the Lincoln Park Zoo on the first nice day, © 2013 Celia Her City

Crowds flock to the zoo, unhunching their shoulders.  Having shed a few layers, their steps are lighter.  Chicago is suddenly eager to be outside.  Winter’s senseless trials are forgotten, and enthusiasm flies high.

Holding together

Holding together

On this, the first day of spring, bitter cold grips Chicago.  The sun shines through a fierce wind, giving a false impression of a jaunty scene.  In truth, we are barely holding together, much like the Hancock, which, to Celia’s wind-raked eyes, looks surprisingly flimsy, its sloping faces held together with a web, too carelessly strung.

The river today

Chicago River steaming on a frigid day, © 2013 Celia Her City

The temperatures have dropped in Chicago, from 60 earlier in the week to nearly zero today.  The river this morning was giving up its heat to the sky.

I love the closed-in, rectilinear look of this cityscape.  So many surfaces, each with its own distinctive patterns and scale.  Reflections inside the bus add to the vaporous dreamy feel.

An anchor in time, an anchor in weather

An anchor in time, an anchor in weather

All humans need an anchor.  Even the most footloose world travelers have some invisible ties that enable them to be free.  In the face of tumult and change, each of us learns to find reassurance and create order, whether by praying, playing the piano, or rearranging a room.  My manicurist tells me that she gets rid of stress by going shopping.

One of my anchors lies in my husband, who (unlike myself) is very habitual and has a keen sense of time.  The latter is a trait common to people who trade commodities as he does.

Perhaps his occupation also explains his keen interest in the weather, which for many of us supplies the day’s best occasion for contemplating the metaphysics of the universe in which we live.  Will it snow tomorrow?  Will the cold snap hold?  Will there be enough water to keep the Mississippi navigable next spring?  And if not, why?  The connections we make between weather and the human and cosmic order are almost as myriad as the times humans have used talking about the weather as a means of connecting with one another.

Nonetheless, I find it a little funny that we monitor the weather and find it reassuring.  We have thermometers in many of the rooms of our house, as well as a barometer (for measuring changes in atmospheric pressure) and a hygrometer (for measuring humidity) outside.  These instruments put numbers on what we are feeling, and somehow that is comforting because it suggests mastery and understanding of something that is actually uncontrollable, chaotic, and unknown.  If we feel low on a particular day, we can blame the barometer, and gird ourselves for the unexpected when it registers “Change.”