June 11, 2008


I talk about the 5:7 ratio of sailing to non-sailing months in the year, which is technically accurate but, realistically, that five month sailing season window is bookended by several weeks of dicey weather. What we really have is three and a half to four months of good sailing season, so we experience a lot of self-imposed pressure to enjoy every sailing opportunity that a Midwest summer will allow. This means feeling obligated to be aboard every weekend and many weekday evenings.

I know, boo-hoo, right?

The problem is Chicago.

Chicago dishes up more fun per square inch than any place I've ever lived, especially in the summer. This town gets absolutely dizzy enjoying its terribly few months of gentle weather. Combined with the fact that, even when nothing special is going on (that never happens, actually), Chicago is just a fascinating place to wander around. Open the map, choose a neighborhood, jump on the "L" and go explore.

So it was with some consternation, along about Season Three, that I realized our summer weekends were becoming a little too one-dimensional for my liking. A little too sailing-centric. We'd fly out of bed on Saturday morning, tear through the farmers' market and the Jewel collecting ingredients for Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch aboard, process the resulting provisions into some sort of semi-prepped condition, throw it all into a bag, pack our clothes, then barrel off to the boat, where we would plant ourselves until Sunday evening, while all things Chicago played out without us on the other side of a 500 yard span of water.

Finally, one Saturday morning before the madness could gain too much momentum, I blew the whistle and called a time out. We took a deep breath, sat down over a breakfast at Butch's (their Eggs Florentine...outta this world), and hammered out a new approach to the passion that we can both live with. It includes taking time to enjoy land-based activities that define the city lifestyle, like art fairs and jazz clubs and al fresco lunches and just wandering down an interesting street.

Last weekend it meant a stroll through the Printers Row book fair ...

... including a little music appreciation with a local troubadour ...

... admiring a handsome row of red brick ...

... plopping down on a chair in the street and getting lost in a book ...

... hoping to catch a cooking demo, or maybe some sort of obscure literary discussion, instead I wound up in a tent with these guys talking about the comic book publishing industry, which is quite robust, apparently:

Something I wouldn't have had the opportunity to consider if I'd gone straight to the boat.

Later that weekend, we found our way to the Bluesfest. That's another post.

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