LIFE, AND ITS BEACH

MY FRIEND, HUNTER, WHO WAS NICE ENOUGH TO TAKE HUXLEY AND I TO MONTROSE BEACH SUNDAY AFTERNOON, MAKES HIS WAY OUT OF LAKE MICHIGAN WITH MY PUP. A FELLOW SOUTHERNER … AND BEACH LOVER … THE HOURS SPENT ON THE SAND SEEMED TO DO HIM JUST AS MUCH GOOD AS IT DID ME.

“I need a crowd of people, but I can’t face them day to day. Though my problems are meaningless, that don’t make them go away. I need a crowd of people, but I can’t face them day to day.” NEIL YOUNG, “ON THE BEACH”

Zombies.

Every one of them.

As I made my commute downtown this morning, I was hit with that oddest of sensations.

It being a Monday, there was the normal sense of agony as everyone made their way to offices downtown and beyond. But today there was an added level of anxiety in the atmosphere, masked by an eerie silence, as I passed the throngs of people pouring out of Millennium Station. Heads down, hurriedly moving about like scattering cockroaches as a light is flipped on, most walked as if in mourning.

And I was one of them as I contemplated my return to another day full of dread following joys of this weekend. Ah, the weekend … that wonderful heat-filled-sunshine-radiating-get-me-outside-then-back-into-an-air-conditioned-apartment 48-hour period that just passed.

The first of the “summer” here in Chicago.

Following weeks of stormy weather, cool temperatures and the odd 60-degree day, Mother Nature decided to reward our patience with a week filled with digits in the 80s and slight chances for rain. Saturday was quite calm as the weather began its transition.

But Sunday … Ah, Sunday.

The minute I stepped outside to walk Huxley, I knew what a wonderful day it would be. Removing my thin sweater at 9 a.m. as we made our way around our Uptown neighborhood was the first sign of wonderful things to come. By the time we made it back home, the warming rays of sunshine had encompassed every fiber of my being, and the resulting switch in mood was palpable.

The complaints over the “sweltering” heat began early for some around me, yet I continued to revel in temperatures normally reserved for March back home in Mississippi. The window unit, left in a bout of laziness at the end of last summer, was switched on in the house as I watched my 15-pound dog pant profusely when we returned from our walk … Which left me wondering if I was the only one relishing in the quick switch outside.

I soon discovered I wasn’t.

Hundreds of canines and their smart owners covered the sand at Montrose Beach Sunday afternoon, as it seemed every dog lover had the same idea in the 80+ degree heat. Splashing through the knee-deep water and walking along the sand with my pup and some friends, Hunter, David and then Joel, I began to regain some of the spirit a lack of Vitamin D seemed to have sucked from my body. Now, I am left hoping the feeling garnered from nearly two hours spent with my toes in the sand will last.

As I sit at my desk today, facing the open window, it is taking every ounce of strength I have not to go crashing through it just to get outside.

But, since I would rather not spend the week covered in stitches, I’ll be patient.

I’ll move like all the other zombies, towards another warm weekend.

Yep. No turning back now … Summer is here.

GET HUXLEY IN THE BACKSEAT OF ANY CAR, AND HE CAN SOMEHOW FIGURE OUT WHERE WE ARE GOING. LIKE ME, HE WOKE UP IN THE BEST MOOD ON SUNDAY, WHICH ONLY CONTINUED AS WE MADE OUR WAY TO THE BEACH THAT AFTERNOON.  THE JUXTAPOSITION OF MY PANTING PUP AND HUNTER’S WINTER GLOVES STILL IN THE BACKSEAT SHOWS HOW WACKY THE WEATHER HAS BEEN HERE IN CHICAGO RECENTLY.

IF YOU EVER WONDER WHAT PURE JOY LOOKS LIKE, THIS IS IT FROM A CANINE PERSPECTIVE. I HAVE OFTEN SAID THAT FOR HUXLEY, THE BEACH IS LIKE HEAVEN ON EARTH … AND IF ALL DOGS ACTUALLY DO GO TO HEAVEN, I HOPE, FOR HIS SAKE, SAID PLACE WILL BE THE BEACH FOR ALL ETERNITY.

THIS VENDOR SHOWED DEDICATION LIKE NO OTHER AS HE PUSHED HIS ICE CREAM CART THROUGH THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE ALONG THE SAND SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THE JINGLING BELLS HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH A JAUNT TO THE BEACH, AS DOZENS SELL THEIR WARES ON WARM DAYS.

DOZENS OF DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS CAN BE SEEN IN THE LENSES OF HUNTER’S WAYFARERS AS HE SURVEYS THE BEACH. AND I THINK HE WILL AGREE WITH ME WHEN I SAY THAT THE WATER WAS ACTUALLY QUITE WONDERFUL … FOR A LAKE ANYWAY.

AS THE CLICHE GOES, “STICK A FORK IN HIM …” AFTER A QUICK SHOWER UPON OUR RETURN FROM THE BEACH, HUXLEY WAS DONE FOR THE DAY. AND RIGHTFULLY SO, AS HE SEEMS TO COVER MILES OF SAND DURING OUR AFTERNOONS AT MONTROSE HARBOR.

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