The official user's manual for sunshine

Dissimilar Summers: You Know You’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Fireworks, Memoirs & Miscellany Add comments


When the sounds of dinnertime are punctuated by motorcycle thunder and ambulance wails
As opposed to tornado sirens and trips to the basement with the family cat and radio

When the debate is whether to avert the murky swamp by switching on the air
Versus cranking it at all times to freeze out the blast furnace blowing

When a parade of happenings crowding a calendar with reminders
Makes the summer job “just for something to do” impossible

There’s a festival or a block party or an exhibition every weekend and every day here
And there’s fireworks once and one summer concert tour a hundred miles drive away there

Here we have to wait seventeen years to be deafened by many minute cicadas
There it’s a constant chorus of them, cranky joy-buzzers the size of hummingbirds

If we’re lucky, Chicago shares one day each of spring and fall,
but winter and construction seasons are forever
Kansas springs early, summers hot, dry and hard—
its sun cracks soil and asphalt with equal mercilessness

In Chicago, one-way streets can send you in circles for days
Whether designed to keep locals apart or confuse outsiders is anyone’s guess
There’s a jigsaw puzzle of suburbs as you move away from the lake (and you always know where that is)
Whose streets and addresses seem crafted deliberately to lose non-natives

In Kansas, there are two interstates, and the only traffic they’ve seen
Occurs when a semi hits an antelope on the turnpike
Or when a green sky pitches baseball size hail or
Heralds something worse

Sure, the Dorothy jokes wear thin,
But when your favorite Oz-obsessed local weather woman
Slips on those ruby red shoes each Halloween,
Then it’s all well worthwhile.

—Craig Bechtel may have grown up in Kansas, but he was actually born in Kentucky, something he’s quick to remind Illinoisans that he has in common with Abraham Lincoln

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.