Chicago Summer In The City: Come On, Let Your Colors Burst

No matter how booster-ish you are about your hometown, there is one thing about Chicago that brooks no argument. This city knows how to do summer. Take for instance, Saturday night’s fireworks display over Navy Pier — seen in the photos below — that marked the Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start to summer. Now this would have been fun enough if it had been a one-off. But instead, every Saturday and Wednesday night between now and Labor Day (weather permitting), we will be able to look out the window of our apartment five miles away and see… this.

We happened to arrive in Chicago on a Wednesday when we moved here last year, totally oblivious to the Navy Pier’s schedule. Since almost all of our belongings were on a van taking the scenic route around the Northeast, we were sitting in the only furniture in the living room — a pair of those canvas folding chairs that you take to picnics and outdoor concerts — when suddenly… fireworks!

It reminded me of the final scene in Barry Levinson’s movie “Avalon,” about a first-generation Jewish family in Baltimore, which ends with a flashback of the now-elderly patriach arriving on a boat on July 4, 1914, and disembarking under a mantle of fireworks. Even under the far less dramatic circumstances of our move to Chicago, it was quite a welcome!

The way in which Chicago comes to life when the weather warms was one of the first things that struck me during one of my early family visits with Barb, as this city started to exert would became a magnetic pull.

We arrived in town, appropriately enough, on Memorial Day, and it had been one of those years in which winter’s chill had only reluctantly released its grip more than halfway through spring. We meandered down Lake Shore Drive and got off at Fullerton, smack in the middle of Lincoln Park, and sat for a while in a traffic jam made up mainly of people headed to the zoo and the nearby beaches. And we noticed that there were people everywhere. Walking, running, rollerblading, biking, with many of them wearing as little clothing as they could get away with.

Now the Drive and the park are practically in my “front yard” and I am alternately writing this and staring out the window at the lake, liberally dotted with sailboats and motorboats and jet-skis. I’ve got issues, like everyone else, but I’d really have to try in order to be unhappy here.

So I’ve decided to add a feature to the blog that I’m calling Chicago’s Summer in the City. Yes, borrowed from the song released in 1966 by the Lovin’ Spoonful. I’m sure I could have strained to come up with something more original than that, but seriously, when you’re writing about summer in the city, why bother?

Along with the fireworks, the last signs of spring verging on summer have fallen into place. Our rooftop pool is open for the season, as are the Chicago Trapeze School, located at the south end of Belmont Harbor near our apartment, and Fullerton Street Beach, a pop-up place that serves wood-smoked barbecue at a spot yards from the lake. And this city known for its street festivals held its first one this weekend. Next weekend, I’ll be attending Sausage Fest (yes, I know this is a double entendre) outside Wrigley Field, because the food sounds great, of course, but also because it is a fundraiser to fight prostate cancer, something with which I’ve had an unfortunate acquaintance.

My wife Barb has been incredibly busy with family matters since we moved, so we’re determined to make this the Summer of Barb (and to make it more successful that the Summer of George on the old Seinfeld show). So the fireworks show last night was the nightcap of our Summer of Barb kickoff.

First, I made breakfast: scrambled eggs with light havarti cheese, sauteed ham and red peppers. I popped over to the recently opened Saturday farmers’ market a few blocks away at the Nettlehorst School, where I picked up some local lettuce, asparagus, strawberries, cherries, peaches, green onions, cheese (including some Cajun-flavored cheese curds – yes, we live close to Wisconsin) and a bag of dandy pretzel rolls. Everything is delicious, though getting peaches and cherries this early kind of raises my worries about the whole global warming thing.

Then Barb and I took the short bus ride to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Unlike today, with temperatures in the mid-90s, yesterday was actually a bit on the cool side. Nonetheless, we made a mental note to come earlier in the day next time, because most of the animals were pretty lazy. I love watching the big cats. But the tiger, while a magnificent and potentially terrifying beast, is a cat, after all, and here’s a photo of one taking a midday snooze.

The lion was awake, but not exactly active either.

One exception was the jaguar, spending the afternoon indoors and gnawing on a bone with great determination to extract every last bit of meat.

The ducks, at least, were alert, but they don’t seem to care much what the weather is like.

After the zoo, we made a short visit to the nearby Notebaert Nature Center, then home, where I fixed a dinner of barbecue-sauced tri-tip roast beef with roasted asparagus and a salad made up mostly of stuff I’d gotten at the farmers’ market (including a cranberry cheddar that’s already on next week’s shopping list). My (successful) cocktail experiment for the evening was a Hemingway daiquiri with Death’s Door white whiskey from Wisconsin subbing for the white rum. Then bloody marys and fireworks.

Not a bad first day of summer. More adventures to come. I hope you’ll come back and join me.

Spring in Chicago: A Long, Long Walk For Asparagus

After the chilly weather of April that stretched into the early part of May, it looks like spring has finally arrived for real. Chicago had an official high temperature of 90 today, a first this year, though — as the name of this blog reminds — it was cooler by the lake shore.

Signs of spring are all over. The air conditioning, thank goodness, has been turned on in our apartment building. The rooftop pool likely is a week away from opening, but the deck is open. Here what Wrigley Field looked like this afternoon, through the haze and the scratchy plexiglass that is there to prevent the kind of bad things that can happen when you’re hanging out on a roof 400 feet off the ground.

There is lots of baseball (this photo taken Wednesday night at the game between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies), most of it bad, but that unfortunately is also a sure sign of spring in Chicago.

The boats are back in on the lake…

… and so are the birds.

And now, the farmers’ markets around the city are opening up. Possibly the best known is the Green City market, located at the south end of Lincoln Park (the actual park, not the neighborhood), and since I never got there after we moved last summer, I wanted to make a point of getting there early to check it out this year.

I also have a few pounds accumulated from the winter and the sedentaries associated with a big writing project I am just wrapping up, and since I’d already taken some pretty good strolls, I figured I’d walk down there and earn the barbecue brisket dinner I’d put on the menu for tonight.

I did, because it’s kind of a long walk. Two and a half miles, according to my best GoogleMaps estimate.

I can see this market is going to be a very big deal as the growing season progresses. For right now, it’s still mid-May in the Upper Midwest, and produce was a bit scarce.

I don’t regret the trek because I need the exercise, it was a beautiful day and there was little reason for concern that the NATO protestors would make a priority of Occupying Lincoln Park. Still, under normal circumstances, that would be a pretty long walk for a couple of pounds of asparagus, a bag of spring mix lettuce and a couple of containers of admittedly delicious feta cheese from (guess where) Wisconsin.

They did have stands selling fresh local meats and fish, though I decided that I needed cold packs for that given the temperature pushing 90. I will remember that for the future, because truthfully, when you’re walking that far on a hot day, cold packs are not a bad thing to have.

I will be back, for sure. But on the bus ride home (no, I didn’t do the five-mile round trip on foot), I passed what looked like a thriving farmers’ market in a schoolyard just a few blocks from where we live. For the next few weeks, at least until there’s a bigger choice of produce to be had, I think I’ll stick to the market closer to home.

By the way, the brisket, seared on the stovetop, then slow roasted in the oven with a late slathering of barbecue sauce, was delicious. I served it with a home-concocted version of elote, a corn dish that is a Mexican street food and which I first sampled at the White Sox ballpark when we attended the game last Tuesday. Nothing fancy about it: corn (on or off the cob) seasoned with salt, pepper, butter, a little mayonnaise, lime juice, and if you like (and I do) a sprinkling of chili powder. Comfort food to the max, and totally addictive.

I’ve gotten way behind on the Cooler on the Lakeshore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown, so I guess this is as good a place as any to catch up. According to Weather Underground…

On Wednesday, May 9: Chicago Midway reported a high of 60, a low of 46, and a trace of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 75, a low of 59 and .58 of an inch of rain. That’s a lot of rain. Point Chicago.

Thursday, May 10, Chicago Midway reported a high of 65, a low of 45, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 70, a low of 56 and no rain. Virtual tie, but edge to D.C.

Friday, May 11, Chicago Midway reported a high of 78, a low of 48, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 73, a low of 52 and no rain. Point Chicago.

Saturday, May 12 Chicago Midway reported a high of 67, a low of 51, and .25 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 78, a low of 52 and no rain. Point D.C.

Last Sunday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 69, a low of 53, and and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 80, a low of 62 and no rain. Beautiful day in Chicago, but to be fair, point D.C.

Monday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 78, a low of 46, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 73, a low of 62 and .24 of an inch of rain. Point Chicago.

Tuesday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 84, a low of 56, and a trace of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 79, a low of 67 and 1.22 inches of rain. Easy one for Chicago.

Wednesday: Chicago Midway reported a high of 63, a low of 52, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 83, a low of 62 and no rain. Point D.C.

Thursday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 71, a low of 49, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 77, a low of 61 and no rain. Edge D.C.

Friday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 85, a low of 57, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 76, a low of 55 and no rain. We’ll give this one to Chicago.

That brings the overall score to 158-130 in favor of D.C.

 

Storm Photos: Gotta Work On Those Lightning-Fast Reflexes

Our weather here in Chicago has been pretty crummy lately, with most of the past few days interrupted by rain, including some pretty hefty thunderstorms. On the other hand, this has given me an opportunity to feed my latest obsession, which is trying to catch lightning, if not in a bottle, then at least with my camera.

I have managed, though patience and a bigger portion of dumb luck, to capture a few lightning bolts in still photos. But this dandy Sony NEX-3 camera I have also takes HD-quality video, so I decided during last night’s storms to see what I could catch with that. The results are pretty interesting.

The following are stills captured from the videos I took. Most of the lightning while I was at this was cloud to cloud…

… but I did manage to capture this bolt from the black…

The problem with capturing lightning is, of course, that it comes and is gone in a flash. In this sequence, the sky is dark…

…. then is totally ablaze with white light five one-hundredth of a second later…

…. but this faux-daylight is gone in one-hundredth of a second, replaced again in very short order with complete darkness.

I plan to keep working on this. This being Chicago weather, I am sure that I will have ample opportunities.

The Lake Shore View: On Little Cat Feet

I’ve gotten way behind on the Cooler on the Lakeshore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown. But catching up gives me an excuse to repost this photo I took Tuesday night of fog creeping in off Lake Michigan.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
– Carl Sandburg

After a much-too-chilly April, the temperature today finally crept back into the 80s. One more very warm day tomorrow, then a gradual decline into the 60s. But it looks like we may at last be escaping that meat-locker weather that made my first visits to Wrigley Field this year such an endurance test.

Here’s the Smackdown. Hopefully some prettier days to photograph soon, which will encourage me to keep up better. According to Weather Underground…

On Sunday, April 22, Chicago Midway reported a high of 51, a low of 42, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 57, a low of 46 and 1.27 inches of rain. That’s a lot of rain! Point Chicago.

Monday, April 23: Chicago Midway reported a high of 58, a low of 36, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 50, a low of 42 and .10 of an inch of rain. Point Chicago.

Tuesday, April 24: Chicago Midway reported a high of 64, a low of 38, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 64, a low of 42 and no rain. Point Chicago, for good behavior.

Wednesday, April 25: Chicago Midway reported a high of 62, a low of 50, and .05 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 71, a low of 44 and no rain. Point D.C.

Last Thursday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 55, a low of 39, and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 65, a low of 56 and .03 of an inch of rain. Point D.C.

Friday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 52, a low of 39, and a trace of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 64, a low of 48 and no rain. Point D.C.

Saturday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 50, a low of 44, and .20 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 56, a low of 45 and .12 of an inch of rain. Pretty crummy both places, but a little worse in Chicago.

Sunday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 58, a low of 44, and and .11 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 71, a low of 46 and .03 of an inch of rain. Point D.C.

Monday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 63, a low of 51, and .39 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 67, a low of 50 and no rain. Point D.C..

Tuesday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 64, a low of 52, and .32 of an inch of rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 84, a low of 60 and .15 of an inch of rain. Point D.C.

So a nice start for Chicago went south in a hurry. D.C. leads overall 150-121.

The Lake Shore View: Signs Of Chicago Spring, In Lake And Sky

Last July, on the day after we moved to Chicago, we experienced an epic thunderstorm. For a lifelong weather junkie, it was exhilarating to watch from the 30th floor as vivid cloud-to-ground lightning flashed across a panaroma of dozens of miles.

It was a little frightening, too, especially when it started to hail heavily (this was the same storm that inflicted severe damage to greenhouses at the city’s Garfield Park Conservatory). At that time, we were still waiting for the moving van to arrive from the East, and our apartment was completely empty save for two canvas folding chairs and an Aerobed. The hailstorm created the sensation of being trapped in a box suspended 300 feet off the ground while being pelted by small stones.

Ever since, I’ve wondered if I’d ever master capturing photos of lightning, especially since I bought the cool camera (a Sony Nex-3) that is responsible for most of the photos on the blog. Last night, I got a chance to try as a spring storm lit up the skies around midnight. While I’ve got a lot of work to do to get this just right, here’s what it looked like out the western windows.

Shooting toward the lake is more problematic, as the reflection off the water turns lightning into more of a blinding flash. Most of my attempted shots produced nothing but pure white lightning. Here’s one that at least kept a little scenery for perspective.

The weather forecast suggests I may get some more opportunities to practice tonight. It comes complete with a severe storm watch, so be careful out there.

There are, however, an increasing number of the more benign signs that spring is nigh, for real this time.

For instance, there are….

… some boats docked in the marina at Belmont Harbor! And as you can see in the background above and more clearly here, it’s also sailing-class season.

So how’s the weather been? Let’s catch up with the Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown to find out. According to Weather Underground…

Last Sunday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 66, a low of 45 and a trace of  precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 74, a low of 48 and no rain. A close call, but a slight edge for D.C.

On Monday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 63, a low of 41 and a trace of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 69, a low of 53 and a trace of rain. Another  narrow win for D.C.

On Tuesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 46, a low of 34 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 68, a low of 45 and no rain. Well, that’s a no brainer.

On Wednesday, I had a ticket to the Cubs game. You know where this is going. Chicago Midway reported a high of 54, a low of 32 and no precipitation. But Washington Reagan National reported a high of 56, a low of 40 and .01 rain. Close enough to cut Chicago a break.

On Thursday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 63, a low of 32 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 63, a low of 42 and no rain. The point goes to Chicago on the “above seasonal average” rule.

On Friday, Chicago Midway reported a high of 66, a low of 40 and no rain. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 67, a low of 45 and no rain. Point Chicago (see above).

And on Saturday, I finally got a little warm weather for a baseball game, and we dodged the threat of rain. Naturally, this was a home game for the South Side Chicago White Sox and not the Cubs. Chicago Midway reported a high of 67, a low of 54 and .16 of an inch of  precipitation (almost all of that very late at night). Washington Reagan National reported a high of 75, a low of 46 and no rain. Point: D.C.

All that edges D.C.’s overall lead to 139-115.

Guess It Will Be The Beer Barrel Parka For Cubs’ Opening Day After All

So if you read my post last week about the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day weather prospects and thought that the eight-days-out forecast of 64 degrees was overly optimistic — you’re a genius. With every day that has passed, the prediction has gone down… and down… and down. And now, the National Weather Service predicts a high of 45 degrees for Thursday’s opener; the Weather Channel pegs it a bit more generously as 52 degrees.

But sunny! Sunny is good. The Cubs’ opening game in 2003 was postponed. By snow.

Temperatures in the 40s are actually pretty much the norm for Cubs’ home opener. I trained for this game, my first Opening Day ever at Wrigley Field, by sitting outside in a cold rain for four hours at the Michigan State-Northwestern football game late last November. So 45 degrees and sunny? Ha! Bring it on!

I’ve got to keep this short, so here are some pretty spring pictures taken on the streets of Chicago yesterday. Yes, D.C., we have flowering trees, too.

The Moon, The Lake and The Big 10 Basketball Tournament

Before I get to the subject at hand, which is the first day of the Big 10 men’s basketball tournament, a couple of photos. I hope this isn’t getting tiresome, but there just are days when I look out the window and see things that are breathtakingly beautiful. Tonight, with a clear sky and a full moon illuminating Lake Michigan, was one of those times.

Now, about the basketball… reviewing today’s games in the order they occurred:

Iowa 64, Illinois 61

The first-round matchup between these two teams was appropriate, because each of them defied the expectations held for them at the start of the season — Iowa in a positive sense, Illinois negatively.

Illinois was viewed as a solid middle-of-the-pack team with an outside chance of contending for the Big 10 championship and seemed to verify that early on, as the Illini won their first 10 games, started the conference schedule 11-2 and then won four of their first five Big 10 games, capped by a 79-74 home win over Ohio State, the team favored to win the league title.

Iowa, with a new coach (Fran McCaffrey) and a lack of experienced talent and leadership on the court, was widely viewed as a candidate for last place, and seemed to confirm that early on too. The Hawkeyes were 8-5 in a weak pre-conference schedule that included a loss by 16 points, at home yet, to the Campbell Fighting Camels of the Big South Conference. Iowa then started out the Big 10 season with three wins and six losses that included a 29-point whacking by Ohio State in Iowa City and a 34-point road loss at Michigan State.

But the end of the season was a dramatically different story for both teams. Illinois nosedived, losing 11 of its last 13, and one of its wins was a bizarre 42-41 mess of a home game against Michigan State in which Draymond Green, the Spartans’ star player, was sick and then was knocked out of the game by an injury. Iowa, on the other hand, was 5-4 down the stretch (despite losing at Illinois for the Illini’s only other win) — not spectacular, but enough to boost their Big 10 mark to 8-10 and a tie with Northwestern for 7th place in the now 12-team conference.

Illinois led today’s game, 31-27, at halftime, and led by as much as seven with a little less than 17 minutes to go. But then, as so often this season, the bottom dropped out. By the time a 25-10 Iowa run ended more than 10 minutes later, the Hawkeyes led by eight. Although Illinois teased its fans again by closing to within one on a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, they could not come all the way back.

Though Illinois could still draw a bid to the second-tier National Invitational Tournament with its overall record of 17-16 (6-13 in the Big 10), it faces a major period of transition. It is widely presumed that the school will part way with Coach Bruce Weber, who had a decent nine-year run but never again approached the heights of his second year, when the Illini went 37-2 and played all the way to the NCAA final before losing a close game to University of North Carolina. Meyers Leonard, the 7-foot-1 sophomore center, has skills that are a work in progress, but his height has drawn interest from the NBA that could prompt him to leave early for the pros.

Iowa, led against Illinois by senior guard Matt Gaten’s 20 points, has to turn around quickly to play Friday against Michigan State, which is seeded number 1 in the tournament after tying for the regular season Big 10 championship with Ohio State and Michigan.

The Spartans are 24-7 overall and 13-5 in the league, but will be tested by a two-game end-of-season slump that saw them lose by 15 at Indiana and by 2 at home to Ohio State in a game that deprived MSU of an outright regular season title. And this will be Michigan State’s first full game without freshman starter Brenden Dawson, who suffered a knee injury in the Ohio State game that required surgery and has him sidelined for the post-season.

Indiana 75, Penn State 58

Nothing much to say in detail about this wholly expected outcome in a game between Indiana — a traditional power whose resurgence after several bad seasons produced an overall record of 25-7 and a Big 10 mark of 11-7 — and Penn State, a team that tied for last in the Big 10 with a 4-14 mark (12-20 overall).

Indiana was led in scoring by junior guard Jordan Hulls, who had 20 points, and freshman center Cody Zeller, who had 19. Zeller also was one of three Hoosiers who pulled down 10 rebounds. Junior guard Tim Frazier led Penn State with 26 points, but the load he had to carry was evident in the fact that he attempted 24 field goals, hitting nine.

Indiana, seeded fifth, moves on to play 4th-seeded Wisconsin (23-8 overall, 12-6 Big 10) in what appears to be a very even matchup. The teams played only once during the regular season, with Wisconsin scoring a 57-50 home win on Jan. 26.

Minnesota 75, Northwestern 68 (overtime)

Northwestern is one of the few Division I basketball programs that has never qualified for the NCAA tournament. After the Wildcats came close in recent years, this season began with high hopes that this would be THE year. But the loss by 7th-seeded Northwestern to #10th seeded Minnesota appeared to snuff out those already flickering hopes.

What has to be especially galling to Northwestern fans is how painfully close their team (now 18-14 on the season) came to being very, very good. Along with a signature 81-74 upset over Michigan State at home in January, Northwestern lost three times in overtime, including both their games with eventual Big 10 co-champion Michigan; came from way behind to tie eventual co-champion Ohio State in their next to last regular season game, only to lose by two at home; also lost at home by one against Illinois and by two against Purdue; and lost by just five at Indiana.

Minnesota, which now has an overall record of 20-13 despite going 7-12 in the Big 10, was led against Northwestern by guard Andre Hollins’ 25 points. The Golden Gophers now play #2 seed Michigan, which won the only regular season matchup between the team by 61-56 in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day.

Northwestern was led by 24 points by sophomore guard JerShon Cobb, who was hindered by injuries for most of the season, and senior John Shurna, the school’s career scoring leader, who had 21 but was held without a field goal for the last 13 minutes of the game.

Purdue 79, Nebraska 61

Purdue was as inconsistent during the regular season as its 10-8 Big 10 record (6th in the conference) would suggest. But the Boilermakers still overmatched Nebraska, which finished its first basketball season as a member of the Big 10 tied for last place with Penn State at 4-14.

Purdue cinched this victory with runs of 15-0 in the first half and 28-13 in the second half. Five Purdue players finished in double figures. The Boilermakers move on to a much taller challenge in the second round against Ohio State — though they gave the Buckeyes all they could handle before dropping an 87-84 decision in Columbus Feb. 7, their only meeting in the regular season.

As tough as this season was for Nebraska, they now face the prospect of rebuilding. Guards Bo Spencer (22 points) and Toney McCray (13 points) , the Cornhuskers’ leading scorers as they were during the regular season, both are seniors.


The Lake Shore View: When The Weather Goes WMD

I’ve had a bit of fun with the weather since we moved to Chicago last summer. And it would be easy just to note that March came in like at least a lion cub: chilly temperatures, stiff cold breezes, a snow shower here and there.

But just a couple of hundred miles or so to the south and east, the same weather system that brought nuisance weather to Chicago spawned dozens of tornadoes that are reported to have killed at least 38 people and wreaked destruction from the sky as devastatingly as a fleet of bombers.

It was a reminder that tornadoes — an extreme rarity in Washington, D.C., where I lived for 30 years, and in the New York City area where I grew up — are more of a sad and scary fact of life in the nation’s midlands, where I am entering my first full spring as a resident. And this tornado siege came unusually early, as we are still about 16 days away from the vernal equinox that will signal the official start of spring.

So please keep the people who were victimized by the tornadoes in your thoughts, and if you can spare it, please make a contribution to the American Red Cross or other agencies providing relief. For those of us who think we’ve had a really bad day if we got caught in traffic or our train broke down or our flight was delayed or the cable guy kept us waiting, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to have an average rainy day suddenly turn apocalyptic.

I’m certainly not going to complain about having mediocre weather in Chicago, under the circumstances. At one point this afternoon, the sun tried, without much success, to compete with a shower of barely perceptible snow.

Let’s catch up here on a few days of the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown. According to Weather Underground…

On Monday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 40, a low of 27 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 64, a low of 34 and no precipitation. Point for D.C., obviously.

On Tuesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 47, a low of 25 and .08 of an inch of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 56, a low of 40 and no precipitation. Closer, but still point D.C.

On Wednesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 60 (that’s 19 degrees above average for the date, a low of 35 and .19 of an inch of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 56, a low of 40 and a swampy 1.44 inches of precipitation. Point for Chicago.

On Thursday, Chicago O’Hare was way back to normal, reporting a high of 39, a low of 35 and a trace of precipitation. Washington Reagan National went way in the other direction, reporting a high of 70 (19 degrees above normal), a low of 46 and .05 of an inch of precipitation. Point D.C.

On Friday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 41, a low of 35 and .19 of an inch of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 55, a low of 40 and .34 pf an inch of precipitation. Crummy in both towns, but D.C. was warmer.

That brings D.C.’s overall lead to 118-94.

The Lake Shore View: Just Another Chicago Sunset

Got behind on the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs D.C. Weather Smackdown. So I’ll use it as an excuse to post these photos of yet another beautiful Chicago sunset. (For those of you who are kind enough to read this blog regularly, these were taken from the living room. From my old perch at the kitchen window, the sunset has already gone north behind our building.)

The weather spiel will follow the pix.

In the Smackdown… according to Weather Underground…

On Tuesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 41, a low of 33 and .07 of an inch of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 50, a low of 32 and no precipitation. Point for D.C.

On Wednesday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 42, a low of 32 and a trace of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 63, a low of 43 and no precipitation. Point for D.C. [I have to remark here that while Chicago had incredible fall-like weather last August, D.C. has had crazy spring-like weather this February. Just have to tip my hat to that.]

On Thursday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 39, a low of 28 and .11 of an inch of precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 67, a low of 47 and a trace of precipitation. Point for D.C. Fore!

On Friday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 35, a low of 25 and .24 of an inch of precipitation. [This is a bit deceptive, because this was the day when the suburbs got a bunch of snow and we got a dusting by the Lake Shore. But it is what it is.] Washington Reagan National reported a high of 57, a low of 46 and .32 of an inch of precipitation. Pretty crummy, too, but way warmer. Point D.C.

On Saturday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 29, a low of 19 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 47, a low of 35 and a trace of precipitation. Point D.C.

On Sunday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 52, a low of 22 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 49, a low of 34 and no precipitation.Finally, a point for Chicago, prevented a sweep. That brings D.C.’s overall lead to 114-93. Well, we knew the winter — even though it’s been unusually mild by Chicago standards — would be rough in this contest.

Gracie the Cat’s Audience Awaits

Fans of the Cooler on the Lake Shore blog might have noticed that I’ve gone out of my way in recent weeks to protect the privacy of our household’s biggest star, Gracie the Cat. It really is hard for her to get the requisite 18 hours of sleep each day when she is being plagued by paparazzi.

But I understand that the embargo may be a bit excessive. In this business of personal blogging, you have to give the people what they want. Some people want to read my wide-ranging thoughts on sports, food, drink, the weather, living in Chicago or whatever. And some people wish I’d just shut up and publish more photos of Gracie the Cat.

This one’s for you folks. Since we’re doing nature photography, I’ll throw in a few waterbirds from a walk by the lake yesterday. And I’ll wrap with a little catchup on the Cooler on the Lake Shore Chicago vs. D.C. Weather Smackdown.

There was still a bit of ice on the surface in Belmont Harbor yesterday morning. It’s gone now. I suspect the birds are pretty happy about that.

Not going in that cold water… hey, we’re not dumb!

And in the Smackdown… according to Weather Underground…

On Sunday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 37, a low of 26 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 45, a low of 35 and .08 of an inch of precipitation. Although this looks like an edge for D.C., that was the day the city dodged predicted snow, and it sounds like it was a pretty crummy day.

On Monday, Chicago O’Hare reported a high of 43, a low of 25 and no precipitation. Washington Reagan National reported a high of 50, a low of 34 and no precipitation. Oh, well, harder to put a thumb on the scale for Chicago here. We’ll call it a split, bringing the overall score to 109-92 in favor of D.C.