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Monday, December 3, 2012

Florida in Chicago

You can take your side on global warming and maybe it is a cycle but it sure is weird to still be biking on December 2nd and be hot wearing long pants and see a Santa at Winterfest sweating buckets under his beard and heavy red suit and the Dickens revelers wilting under the heavy wool and top hats because Florida has now come to Chicago and there is no doubt that things have changed. I am a perfect barometer for Global Warming...how long does the biking season last in Chicago?  November is the drop dead date for biking. After that it is too cold. Not anymore.

December 3rd and I went biking this morning and I was hot. The amount of people in shorts and T shirts putting up Christmas lights is weird. We are not Florida. We expect cold and we expect snow and sure we have had some variations, but this...this is not normal. We do not expect to be cutting the grass on December 2nd but that is exactly what I had to do yesterday. And I am not a lawn freak. I could care less if the lawn is not cut all the time but dandelions had come back and the grass was getting really long.

Even the bugs are confused. I have seen the return of bees and flies. Granted they are slow moving bugs but they have no reason to die. The temperature hit sixty seven today. Yeah. Ok. Fluke weather. Cyclical. Yeah sure its cyclical. That is the mantra of disbelievers, but if you connect the dots it is not cyclical it is really scary. We have had three hundred and thirty days of above average temperatures. We are now having a week of temperatures in the high fifties and sixties. And while I enjoy biking outside, I do feel out of sync.

We associate cold and snow with Christmas. Yet we have no urge to go see Macys windows and sweat. It just does not go together. Midwesterners are creatures of habit and people are still wearing down coats and vests and hats and gloves. But they stumble around bewildered that the weather has not cooperated with their lifelong rituals. Summer clothes have been packed away, patio furniture stowed, wood stacked on back porches and snow blowers brought out from the back of garages. But these habits now are out of sync for our new mild climate.

The truth is that we have passed some sort of point of no return. The climate  is not going to change, it has changed. And you may say it is cyclical and that may be, but it sure feels like someone turned up the thermostat after a hundred plus years of burning fossil fuels. So there really is no need to retire and move south anymore.

Florida has come to Chicago.

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Books by William Hazelgrove