Everyone knows that the Brits love to talk about the weather - and we rarely give it a glowing report. It’s either too cold, too hot, too wet or too windy. It’s our ‘go to’ topic of conversation. We’ll find solidarity with complete strangers at the bus stop through our shared bemoaning of a squally spring or a washed out Wimbledon. The British media will warn us of the complete collapse of society if the temperature dips below freezing and an inch of snow can shut schools amid a health and safety panic.
When we arrived in Chicago in January, we braced ourselves for temperatures we’d never before experienced. Minus 22 was enough to freeze the inside of my nostrils and the bottle of water in my coat pocket. We spent weeks swaddled in thermals and more layers than an onion. But the thing I noticed was that life just carried on. Roads were cleared of snow drifts, pavements were salted and there was just one school snow day. Everyone seemed to retain a chirpy optimism: it’s not been a bad winter, you’ll love the summer etc.
As we headed into April, I started to look for signs of the end of winter: buds and blossoms that brought the promise of a new season. As if on cue, my birthday on April 11th was the hottest day of the year - a gorgeous 72 degrees. I literally skipped through my morning dog walk - inhaling the warm breeze, basking in the sun- I may even have frolicked a little! Time to exfoliate, buff and moisturise the winter skin away - time for sandals, strappy tops and sunblock.
In my quest to be summer-ready, I immediately reassessed my wardrobe- it was lumpy with heavy knits and weighed down by padded coats. My summer clothes appear to be a casualty of the move and I’ve yet to locate them among the still-unopened boxes in the basement. So, with gay abandon, I ordered cropped trousers, a Bardot top and wedged espadrilles.
But as I write this, just days later - the temperature has dropped by 40 degrees! Not 4 degrees, not 14 degrees but FORTY degrees and I’m back in my thermals. So now I’ve got a bone to pick with Chicago! Where the heck is spring?
To be fair, I was warned. It’s not just the Brits who talk incessantly about the weather, but I think I just had selective hearing. I thought they were joking when they talked of snow in May! So here’s what I’ve learnt about the weather in Chicago - 1. There is no spring, apparently we jump from winter to summer. And 2. When Chicagoans kept telling me how long the winters were, they weren’t lying.
There’s one final thing I’m hoping I’ll learn very soon and that is that when the summer does eventually arrive, it will have been worth the wait, but I won’t be swapping the thermals for strappy tops just yet!