It’s raining as I write. A dark, low, rumbling thunderous rain. Not frightening. The sort of rain that rolls in like a vacuum and cleans away the winter dust. It has been an ugly, long week of rain, tornado warnings and high winds, and yet, we soldier on here, not flinching in our schedules, not hesitating to make our plans for the day, for the week, for the future.
What if it rains? What if there is a tornado? What if there is a flood?
Then we’ll deal with it.
Somehow. We do. We just do. That’s spring in Chicago. It follows the blizzards and bitter, frigid temperatures of our winters, and will usher in the blistering, smoldering, humid heat of our summers. Midwesterners are tough, strong people. We have to be to deal with our weather. Some of us complain about it. I do. Loudly. Often. But it doesn’t stop us. It happens so often that it is part of the daily round. Something expected and planned for. We wear our weather like a badge of honor. It makes us rugged and brave. It shows our courage. The weak would move. The weak DO move. It isn’t easy to tolerate the barrage of ever changing attacks.
The weather here changes you if you let it. It molds you and shapes you the way water wears at the surface of stone. Over time, you build callouses to all the drama that the weather provides. You move on. You make better provisions. You learn to plan ahead. To strategize. You become unfazed to the trauma that would affect your To Do list. You simply move on to Plan B -because you have a plan B.
A recruiter once told me that in his opinion, people from the Midwest were the hardest working people in the States. They learned how to work around things. They learned how to pitch in and get things done. If you doubt it, watch and see how quickly the Midwest can mobilize and band together after a winter storm or tornado. Families and neighbors pull together and get the job done. It isn’t a question of IF. They just figure out HOW and they just DO it.
My youngest son graduated from 8th grade this weekend. We had a large family party in the backyard, complete with two Weber grills fired up with a selection of meats, salads and pasta on the buffet and choices of dessert. On the patio, my eldest son’s Karaoke company had set up the evening to be a entertaining night of Karaoke, singing and fun for all of the kids and kids at heart. Despite the fact that Severe Thunderstorm’s had rolled through in the morning, dousing everything with buckets of water and sweeping through with the fourth wind-storm of the weekend, we continued on undaunted. When it looked as if ten minutes after he set up his equipment the storms were going to return, we pulled out the giant tent from the garage, set it up in moments, and continued on with nary a break in the action. The party and the singing continued on around us.
As I looked around, singing, dancing, laughter, chatting, were the actions taking place around me. No one gave a fig about the weather, the grayness of the skies or the humidity in the air. We focused on what was good. We focused on what was fun. We were focused on family.
That’s the way it is here. The worse the weather gets, the more we pull in tighter. The more we cozy up to each other. The weather reminds us of what is important. Pitching in. Helping out. Team work. Family. The rain, the snow, the heat, they wash away the trivial and leave us with the important things to worry about.
We know how to figure it out. And we do it together.
At nine O’clock, we pulled down the tent and put the karaoke away. Just in time, as if waiting for permission, the winds picked up and the sky unleashed it’s next bucket of rain for the evening. We gathered inside, with the back door open listening to it fall. My husband and son stood in the doorway, watching as the energy lights flickered across the sky in the dark, the rumbling of thunder, rolling low and deep. Their hushed voices chatted as the rest of us listened to soft music, finishing our wine. The air was warm, washed clean from the spring rain, the mist reaching into the house, filling the air with the scent. All was peaceful, loving, content.
Yes, It changes you to live here. You become adaptable. Flexible. Strong. Appreciative of the good moments. The moments when the rain is soft and clean, bringing a man and son together in the night, a memory I will watch in my mind for a long time.
Appreciative of family, of being able to bend with the wind, still laughing, still playing….waiting hopefully… for the sun.