It is only the first day of spring, but I’ve got summer on my mind. I live for that season that in Chicago usually comes around in mid-June and can last all the way through mid-October. I spend the winter months bundled up and dreaming of that first day I can spend an entire Saturday at North Avenue beach with my friends. So as a very early celebration of all the warm weather I know is on its way, here is what summer means to me:
Summer means carefree weekends spent on the beach with volleyball nets, coolers and picnic lunches. It is not caring how many brats or how much ice cream you eat because you know you’ll bike or run it off immediately. Summer means spending hours at the park playing tag, lava monster and blisters on your hands from countless back-and-forths on the monkey bars. It dining al-fresco while watching women in dresses and kids on skateboards pass by. Summer means going on a long run and laying in the grass afterward while your sweat dries up and leaves a salty but accomplished residue on your warm skin. It’s lemonade stands, ultimate frisbee games, reading on a park bench and late night bike rides through downtown. It’s hard-fought softball games with the North Park Covenant Softball Team and post-game backyard hangouts with good teammates and cold brews. Summer is free yoga in Millennium Park on Saturdays and free concerts at Jay Pritzker Pavillion on Mondays. It’s grilling bratwurst, halloumi and asparagus on the Humboldt Park hill on Sunday evenings while gazing dreamily at the Chicago skyline. It’s biking to the perfect spot between North Avenue & Oak Street and jumping off a ledge into Lake Michigan’s crisp water, and taking the John Hancock and The Drake towering above. Summer is friends, freedom, the warmth of the sun on your skin and 711 Slurpees at least once a week. It’s when you know a jacket isn’t needed to go outside and when you can basically live in your swimsuit. Summer is classic rock blasting from a garage radio while you wash your car in the driveway and lining a sidewalk to watch a small-town parade on the 4th of July. It’s waking up to the sun and falling asleep to an approaching thunderstorm. Summer, it’s what I look forward to every November through May.