I’m surprised each year by my local adventures around Illinois. As a traveler, I used to say one of the best things about living in Chicago is O’hare and access to anywhere around the world. But, on a day when a local midwest discovery means a dramatic landscape, that feeling of excitement and wonder becomes the same, as if I was somewhere else in the world. Today, I am satisfied with just being here.
Petals begin to close with the last light at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The lily pond shimmers like in a fairy tale, as the sun drops toward the horizon.
Standing barefoot with tripod and camera, I look up to see Bob in blue coveralls. I’m caught red handed, standing in the middle of the waterfall. “I'm the caretaker. What are you doing here?" I ask if it's okay to stand in the water. He replies "I've just never seen anyone here. No one comes here except four turtles.” North Park Village Rock Garden. A forgotten oasis in Chicago.
Beauty. Found in the imperfect.
Black-eyed Susan. Joe Pye Weed. Trees. Water.
West Ridge Nature Preserve clears the mind.
Sa Ta Na Ma. Sanscript words.
Sa is the beginning. Ta is life. Na is death. Ma is rebirth.
Meditation transforms the soul.
Wetland grasses rise over shoulders. Waterfowl declare their flight across the sky. This is Black River Marsh Koehler-Andre State Park. Time lingers before sunset along the boardwalk. A quarter mile turns into hours. And, the golden hour turns into blue. Nautical twilight gracefully ends each day.
Step inside the gate to find an adventure and garden with elements, for the artist to play. The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond circles around what may be Monet. Light, shadow, texture. Look under the surface, where reflections don’t get in the way.
A day of adventure. There are only a few rules. Tune into not knowing. Don’t overthink. Arrive at a place you might not have expected. That’s what happened this morning. One plan set the night before turns into a new plan the next day. The intention. Feel good. The goal. Play. (And, shoot photos.) The rest is open for surprise.
I leave the beach cheerful and satisfied. As the nature trail leads me past the tall American dune grasses anchoring deeply into the sand, I try to remember my plant identifications. Are these grasses, rushes or sedges? The path pricks at my bare feet. But, if I stop to put on my sandals, the mosquitos will attack.
Looking up, I notice a tree start its evening descent into a silhouette. Light shine on a flowers back. And, the sky deepen into Parrish blue. A picture becomes more important than a hungry mosquito. A day of adventure is complete.