Unlike winter, which just showed up one day like an unwanted guest and parked itself on the couch, spring has been dragging its feet. I saw the first signs about a month ago when my crocuses began to poke through the snow. But still ... there was snow. I wasn't entirely convinced that spring would ever arrive or that I would ever leave the house again except to go to work and buy food.
My cats were more hopeful than me (or perhaps that's instinct). Instead of huddling on my bed like they had all winter, they began to venture downstairs and sprawl out on the living room floor in the sunbeams sneaking through the blinds. I followed them, leaving my dark office where I'd spent the winter beside a space heater, and set up my laptop on the dining room table. I opened blinds and eventually windows. The cats and I were restless; all of us yearned to go outside.
I started making as many excuses to leave the house as I could.
Screw the elliptical in the basement; I'm going jogging in the cemetery! Yeah, I jog in Forest Home Cemetery. Hey, it's close to home, it's peaceful and away from traffic, and I'm respectful. Besides, when I went on the cemetery tour last fall, Rich Vitton from the historical society mentioned that cemeteries were designed as parks. There is a lot of interesting stuff to see in that cemetery - just ask my fiancé. I dragged him along on a jog and showed off the things I'd learned on last fall's tour.
I've also been letting myself wander when I run errands. Why not take an hour to browse the shops on Madison if it's nice out, right? It's such a pleasant experience - except for those drivers who still refuse to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Of course my favorite outdoorsy thing to do is work in my garden. It's so rewarding to clean out the dead stuff and get the ground ready for new plants. I made the most bizarre discovery while doing so: a celery plant is growing in one of my beds. I didn't plant it, but somehow there it is. Aside from the random celery and the flowers and herbs that are coming back from last year, I'm waiting until May to do my planting because on May 9 at Green Home Experts, and May 16 at the "What's Blooming on Harrison" Festival, both of which are in Oak Park, the Forest Park Community Garden is having a plant sale and I want to support them.
The only bummer about working in my garden is it's constantly covered in garbage. That's because I live along Desplaines Avenue. But I've heard about Forest Parkers going on walks to pickup garbage in their neighborhoods. What a lovely way to get outside and take care of your community.
There is only one thing about spring that's been bugging me. It's not the allergies - winter colds feel much worse. Or the rain - I'll take that over snow. It's the birds. Did you notice they start chirping at 2:30 a.m.? That would be precisely the time I get home from bartending and am trying to sleep.
But even the noisy critters redeem themselves. My fiancé took the most adorable picture on earth this weekend: two Canadian Geese parading around a parking lot with their freshly hatched goslings.
Welcome, baby geese. Welcome, spring.
Stephanie is the author of "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" and "Ballads of Suburbia." She's a proud Forest Parker who holds a master's in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.