You might find a whiskey bottle on a sidewalk

Moving back to the city

We’re giving Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker another chance, hoping they’ll do something, anything, other than settle for basking in their personality cults and raising taxes rather than fixing the broken political infrastructure. I like her. He knows what I think of him. We’ll see.

## ## Betty only had a few days to find a place, and there were places available in the sky palaces downtown, and along the lakefront. I won’t tell you where we live, because I don’t want lefty trolls putting my home address on social media, as they did when we lived in the burbs.

We’re not in any place fancy. We’re in a neighborhood. I love the neighborhoods. The bakeries, the butcher shops, the odd little storefronts. The density. The heat on your neck in August. The dibs in winter.

With the economy shot to pieces, our sons may move in later. We have room. I’m not asking for much, just hoping to keep my job. You’re hoping to keep working too. Who isn’t hoping, and worrying?

“You might consider this your ‘Year in Provence,'” said a friend, referencing a notable book that spawned a bad TV show.

That one is about a retired English couple. They move to France and have many gourmet adventures including a three dessert lunch. They meet many colorful French characters offered up in stereotype, and those underground truffle dealers. They have that lovely French countryside as their landscape.

Me? I have an alley. And just as we moved in, I looked out my open window to see an old woman staring at me from her back porch a few feet away.

The thing is, I don’t need the French countryside. Give me a summer night on a back stoop, a beer, cigar and my beloved Chicago Fire streaming on a laptop. Or the Chicago White Sox on the radio. I’m easy.

But the best sports town in America has absolutely no sports. We do have “The Last Dance,” but we know how it ends.

I’m looking down on the alley now. Yes, the yards are small. The density takes some getting used to, how it works on your body, the compression of space, people living closer together.

We no longer have our great big backyard with the 27×27 vegetable garden in the corner, the perennial beds, the roses and all that grass for Zeus to run down rabbits. Here there is no garden. Here we have no place to grill. There is no dirt.

But almost every morning at dawn, I see something spectacularly beautiful a few yards over: An old couple comes out to tend their garden. She does most of the work. He watches.

She’s tiny and moves slowly. Sometimes she stops, puts her hands on her knees to catch her breath. Then she continues.

Her garden is perfect. Her flowers have popped, and she has sticks of bamboo and jute to support the growing stems. Her vegetables made it through the frost. A cat comes out to watch over her. The old woman looks up, waves at me, smiles. I wave back.

A brown hawk veers across the alley and wheels into the trees.

Zeus likes our walks. There are many nicely done front yards. And yes, some ratty ones. Some garbage cans overflow in the alleys. You might find a whiskey bottle on a sidewalk, and city posters about not feeding rats. But most neighbors try to keep things clean.

You do see a few political signs still pegged into the ground. Zeus knows just what to do. He’s such a smart dog.

Overall, it’s a nice neighborhood. The people seem nice. The parks are nice and clean.

We had hoped to jump into city neighborhood life, eat at great local restaurants, share a bottle or two of wine and walk home tipsy. The coronavirus shut that dream down too. But someday the taverns will open up, and the lakefront. Someday.

The street parking is tight. In the winter when it snows, Judge Dibs will find out whether this is a neighborhood of people who proudly enjoy the fruit of their own labors, or if this is a neighborhood of anti dibs Karens and other collectivist shamers.

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