The Pit HTML version

Chapter V
That year the spring burst over Chicago in a prolonged scintillation of pallid
green. For weeks continually the sun shone. The Lake, after persistently
cherishing the greys and bitter greens of the winter months, and the rugged
white-caps of the northeast gales, mellowed at length, turned to a softened azure
blue, and lapsed by degrees to an unrumed calmness, incrusted with
innumerable coruscations.
In the parks, first of all, the buds and earliest shoots asserted themselves. The
horse-chestnut bourgeons burst their sheaths to spread into trefoils and flame-
shaped leaves. The elms, maples, and cottonwoods followed. The sooty,
blackened snow upon the grass plats, in the residence quarters, had long since
subsided, softening the turf, filling the gutters with rivulets. On all sides one saw
men at work laying down the new sod in rectangular patches.
There was a delicious smell of ripening in the air, a smell of sap once more on
the move, of humid earths disintegrating from the winter rigidity, of twigs and
slender branches stretching themselves under the returning warmth, elastic once
more, straining in their bark.
On the North Side, in Washington Square, along the Lake-shore Drive, all up and
down the Lincoln Park Boulevard, and all through Erie, Huron, and Superior
streets, through North State Street, North Clarke Street, and La Salle Avenue,
the minute sparkling of green flashed from tree top to tree top, like the first
kindling of dry twigs. One could almost fancy that the click of igniting branch tips
was audible as whole beds of yellow-green sparks defined themselves within
certain elms and cottonwoods.
Every morning the sun invaded earlier the east windows of Laura Dearborn's
bedroom. Every day at noon it stood more nearly overhead above her home.
Every afternoon the checkered shadows of the leaves thickened upon the drawn
curtains of the library. Within doors the bottle-green flies came out of their
lethargy and droned and bumped on the panes. The double windows were
removed, screens and awnings took their places; the summer pieces were put
into the fireplaces.
All of a sudden vans invaded the streets, piled high with mattresses, rocking-
chairs, and bird cages; the inevitable "spring moving" took place. And these
furniture vans alternated with great trucks laden with huge elm trees on their way
from nursery to lawn. Families and trees alike submitted to the impulse of
transplanting, abandoning the winter quarters, migrating with the spring to newer
environments, taking root in other soils. Sparrows wrangled on the sidewalks and
built ragged nests in the interstices of cornice and coping. In the parks one heard
the liquid modulations of robins. The florists' wagons appeared, and from house