Follow @neilsteinbergYou know what’s not causing this freakishly warm February?
Whoops, I mean “climate change.” The term “global warming” fell from favor because every time it snowed some congressman would gleefully sneer, “Twelve degrees outside! Some warming, huh?”
So while it’s possible that this heat wave is a symptom of our steadily warming planet, it isn’t part of the mountain of science proving mankind’s complicity. One piece of evidence isn’t proof. Which doesn’t keep those hoping to justify themselves from pretending otherwise.
The explanation for this mid-winter week of springtime — 71 degrees predicted for Wednesday — that I’ve been offering to friends is: It’s my fault.
This is how I did it. On Dec. 10, after years of resisting, I finally buckled to my wife’s pleas and bought a snowblower. A massive, orange, steel, assembled-in-Wisconsin Ariens snowblower, with a halogen light and its own little shovel for clearing the chute. I think the little shovel sealed the deal for me.
If I were Fox News I’d finesse the story so that as I muscled the thing into the garage, the sun came out and it never snowed again. In truth, which always puts bumps in your tale, I used it four times the first week, for minor snowfalls. But never again.
Follow @neilsteinbergIn the years I didn’t have a snowblower, I assumed that once I had one, it would make me an advocate for blizzards. That the machine sitting idle in the garage before a dry driveway would be a rebuke. But that isn’t how it turned out. The machine is, as my wife points out, “insurance” and it’s working fabulously.
The difference between me and those pointing out that science has been wrong before, historically, so climate change must therefore be wrong too, is that I’m joking and they’re not.
I wish I were Fox News, so I could shift to the hours spent strolling the Chicago Botanic Garden in this great weather. But on Friday, the severe stomach bug going around felled my wife like an tree. I’ll spare you the details, but it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say Friday I canceled my appointments and didn’t go outdoors except to walk the dog. On Saturday, the 90 minutes I slipped outside to do the raking neglected last fall, I worried about being out of earshot.
Sunday the bug hit me, though less severely, mild enough that I manfully headed to the Goodman Theatre to see “Uncle Vanya.” I figured, if life is misery, as Chekhov implies, I might as well distract myself. The amazing thing is, it worked. Maybe Slavic cynicism kills the norovirus. I enjoyed the play, forgot I was sick, felt better about life in general, and later was able to not only enjoy my wife’s homemade chicken soup, but offer up my favorite line from the play, “It’s been such a long time since I’ve tasted noodles.”
While the intellectuals in “Uncle Vanya” drape themselves over chairs and mourn their lost youth, failed careers and thwarted loves, the peasants are happy if the tea is hot. “Looking at this table in front of me, I am capable of experiencing extreme bliss,” says Telegin, who has nothing. “The weather’s wonderful, the birds are singing . . . what more could we ask for?”
What more indeed? While I’d never poach on Hedy Weiss’ preserve and review the play, which opened Tuesday night, I’d be negligent to not mention the ensemble cast is fantastic, under the flawless direction of Bob Falls. So many subtle moments, noticed even though I sat toward the back of the theater in case I had to bolt for the restroom. Marton Csokas, playing Astrov, the doctor who increasingly finds life’s meaning in vodka, early on casts just the slightest perfect little glance of yearning at the vodka bottle, and if Csokas wonders whether anybody noticed, somebody did. Bravo.
The parts of the world sliding into a ditch will still be sliding on Thursday. We can despair about them then. For today, get outside, walk briskly, eat your noodles, wash your hands, and try to see “Uncle Vanya,” extended until March 19.