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Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

I knew I was in for a treat as soon as we opened the door. With a name like Copper Hen Kitchen and Bakery, I was intrigued which did not recede as followed the hostess to a table.. Walking past a bakery case under exposed beams and rough walls, the Copper Hen appeared to be a congenial spot and it was, indeed. The oversized napkins – more dish towel than napkin – added to the allure. That our daughter, Katy, had eaten there before with a friend and they thought I would like it touched me and added to my joy in the experience.

There was much on the menu that tempted me, but, the Farmhouse Salad had my name on it! I have seen many salads in my internet and cookbook wanderings of late with poached eggs atop. Poached eggs are something that you either like – or don’t (I do) and this was a perfect opportunity to try one on salad greens with roasted mushrooms, cashews, ricotta, nuts (I think they were cashews) and a light vinaigrette. I only wished I had ordered a side of toast, but, got along quite nicely as I “licked the platter clean” in this delectable farm-to-table restaurant in Minneapolis.

 

Sated, Katy and I left the Copper Hen and made the short drive to a bookstore I have been wanting to visit. I don’t remember who first suggested Birch Bark Books, but, if you are reading this, thank you, thank you. A sign on the door asked that visitors not take photographs. I will try to paint a picture in words of Birch Bark Books, a cozy, neighborhood independent establishment. Birch Bark is overflowing, in a warm and welcoming way, with a wide offering of books. From cookbooks to mysteries, outstanding children’s selections to poetry and books on nature, there is truly something for everyone at this unique shop, which also sells native artwork, jewelry, baskets, cards and much, much more. The store and is adorned with items that speak to the land and its people.

From Birch Bark’s website:

“We exist to keep real conversations between book lovers alive. We exist to nourish and build a community based on books. We are a neighborhood bookstore, and also an international presence. Our visitors come from Minneapolis-St. Paul, from every U.S. reservation and Canadian reserve, and from all over the world. We are different from all other bookstores on earth!”

Birch Bark Books is ” . . .  a locus for Indigirati — literate Indigenous people who have survived over half a millennium on this continent. We sponsor readings by Native and non-Native writers, journalists, historians.”  It is an amazing local establishment in which I felt both at home and in awe.

Birch Bark Books is owned by author Louise Erdrich. I invite you to explore Birch Bark’s website by clicking the link below to read more about the store, the interesting history of the building, an online shop and photos, which include the birch bark canoe that hangs from the ceiling of the store.

Of course, I could not leave Birch Bark Books without a book.

Have you read anything by Louise Erdrich?

 

https://birchbarkbooks.com/ourstory

http://www.copperhenkitchen.com/menu

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“Some single trees, wholly bright scarlet, seen against others of their kind still freshly green, or against evergreens, are more memorable than whole groves will be by-and-by. How beautiful, when a whole tree is like one great fruit full of ripe juices, every leaf from lowest limb to topmost spire, all aglow, especially if you look toward the sun! What more remarkable object can there be in the landscape? Visible for miles, too fair to be believed. If such a phenomenon occurred but once, it would be handed down by tradition to posterity, and get into the mythology at last.”

-From “Autumnal Tints” by Henry Thoreau; 1862

 

One of our most memorable moments was on a fine October day, ten or so years ago, at Walden Pond. You can read about it here. On that remarkable day, Tom and I walked and talked and didn’t talk, seeing the original site of Thoreau’s cabin and a reconstruction of it. The air was crisp and clear and the scenery mystical. The photo on top was taken on Walden Pond on that long ago day.

Across the pond, a singular tree accented the landscape and glowed like no other. When Thoreau’s quote popped up in my internet wandering, I immediately thought of the scarlet tree at Walden Pond.

Thoreau’s quote and our Walden Pond walk came to mind once more as Tom and I walked, much closer to home, at one of our favorite spots, Lake Katherine. It was the same sort of cool, crisp October day, with the sun shining, powder puff clouds sprinkled here and there, the soft crunch of fallen leaves at our feet  – and the brilliant mythology of Autumn before us.

Right red

 

Where do you go to find your own myths of nature?

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I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been – Winnie the Pooh

So, I did!. I walked away from the computer, the garden, the laundry and such, adjusted my newly installed magnificent driver’s side mirror, repositioned my car’s seat and rambled off to the elegant La Grange Theatre. Oh, it was a journey, for certain, for are not all walking aways filled with challenges?

 

The first challenge was my own winding road. The bridge to be crossed is being repaired and down to one lane with a temporary stack of poles and lights  giving drivers the green when the way is clear. I sat for at least 5 precious minutes waiting for the light to turn green, with no car coming the opposite way during the entire wait. Then, a freight train, a very slow moving freight train, ate up another 5 precious minutes, followed by much traffic juggling for parking spaces, turn lanes, pedestrians, and bicyclists who all felt that the road was their very own (when, really, wasn’t it just mine?)

I parked the car in the very last available spot, then I walked as fast a I walk these days and entered the gilded theatre! Ticket in hand, in I went, to the opening strains of a woodsy tea party awaiting Christopher Robin for a sad goodbye as woodland friends gathered in the 100 Acre Woods and were brought to life by the magic of imagination.

I found a seat, which wasn’t hard as there were but a dozen or so “walkers away” in the theatre; a group of women in front of me, a few more mid-section, an older fellow with a soft drink in one hand, a big container of popcorn in the other, and a mother with her preschool aged child across the aisle from me. The little girl was the bow on the gift of this movie. I could hear her uttering her fears in the scary parts, crawling onto her mama’s lap, and her infectious squeals of laughter were as if on cue from the movie’s director, as Tigger bounces, Eeyore laments and Owl pontificates. Quiet moments and mad-cap scenes made all-the-more delightful by this young darling.

Christopher Robin is a story of finding one’s self while battling the hufflelumps and woofles of life, all on a weekend when the overworked, adult Christopher must work on a way to cut costs for the suitcase company he works for with others’ jobs on the line, while his boss goes off to play golf, and his wife and daughter are off to the Robin cottage in Sussex.

In-the-meantime, long forgotten Winnie cannot find his best friends and misses the long-gone Christopher Robin, who surely would know how to find them. Winnie does, well, what Winnie does, which is to walk away from where he is to find Christopher.

What a beautiful, funny, sad, thought-provoking movie this is. To think, I might not have gone off and walked away had it not been for the fact that yet another certain young girl, who owns my heart, but who lives far, far away, remarked to her mommy upon seeing Christopher Robin that she thought Yia Yia might enjoy it, too – and I did. I most certainly did, and I think that you might as well.

“Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” – Winnie the Pooh

https://movies.disney.com/christopher-robin

(movie trailer from the official Disney site)

 

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Well, not really cracked. That would have been easier to deal with.

The mirror actually fell off, as I was driving on an interstate highway at a high-speed on Sunday afternoon. The route was riddled with lane closures, necessitating maneuvering in which a driver’s side mirror was needed.

I noticed something a bit odd with the mirror early on Sunday. It was, well, it was bouncing around, jiggling a lot, an over-caffeinated looking-glass, if you can imagine that!. Odd, but, functional and I could see cars approaching on my left adequately and safely.

By mid-afternoon, on my way to meet Jennifer and Jason, the mirror joggled again as I accelerated, then, just as I needed to merge into the lane to my left (as the lane I was in was ending with orange cones and stripes and road construction detritus), I heard a snapping sound and could see the mirror was slipping out of its mooring. With no shoulder lane to move to, still at highway speeds, in one of those split seconds of astonishment, the mirror gave up the ghost and sped away at a wind-swept speed in the opposite direction!

I was able to get to my destination, implementing only right turns and remaining in left lanes as much as I could and did not have far to go, but, dear reader, I will tell you that it was more than unnerving. There is a reason for these mirrors and I realized how much I relied on them as I unconsciously kept looking to see what was on my right, only to find a black slate staring back. I wondered if this was what Alice saw, heading through the looking-glass.

Tom was able to put a temporary mirror on (whatever would I do without him?) and a replacement mirror has been ordered and on its way. In-the-meantime, I am limiting my driving, staying on side roads, and waiting for my new mirror.

Can you imagine my frightened “scream” as I looked out and saw the image above in my driver’s side mirror?

Have you ever experienced an unexpected car malfunction?

 

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. . . more precisely, three miles.

I was lost. I could hear voices and I knew “kinda sorta” where I was, but, lost none-the-less. Not-to-worry. I was safe, had my cell phone, and this gaping natural marker to lead me back to where I needed to be.

My proclivity to veering off-road once again steered me into an adventure – this time in Lyman Woods. In my defense, I was scoping out the location for a possible field trip for our garden club. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. These woods are in plain sight on a fairly well-traveled road. I had visited once before, discovering a charmed woods and a Little Free Library, which you can find more information about here.

So there I was, on my way home from church, when my car impulsively turned into the parking lot of Lyman Woods and onto the path to the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center which has a green roof and is on a plot where one of thirty or so houses once stood. While visible from the street, it does not have the look of most nature centers in this area. I find it not only refreshing, but, forward thinking in its purpose and style.

This is the walkway up to the Interpretive Center, from a parking lot that cautions visitors to not let their cars idle, a sign of caution and care for the environment and the preserve I was about to enter.

The roof is carpeted in prairie plants and serves several environmental purposes, including reducing storm water runoff. Here’s another look as well as the interpretive signage. The center hosts a variety of programs for children and adults throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From beekeeping, to habitats for butterflies, hummingbirds and hummingbird moths, migratory birds, deer, coyote and more, these woods are a substantial refuge surrounded by well-travelled roads, a university, a large hospital complex, high-rising business buildings and luxurious home

Before I got lost in the woods, I was lost in this garden plot, packed with flowers and vegetables, beehives and scarecrows! I stood for quite some time, and I hopped about in my happy dance as goldfinch flitted about and a hummingbird rested upon a wire. The bee population was active, as were several hummingbird moths. I would love to try the honey harvested here and will go back and look for some in Autumn.

 


 

 

 I decided to take a short walk after a delightful couple and their small child showed me to way to the marsh telling me to “just follow the path then turn right and then left and there is the marsh where migrating birds come“.

I passed the tree with yawning stump, taking some photos  – just because – and wandered about, a leisurely stroll on a warm Sunday afternoon, the canopy of trees sheltering me and a soft breeze to keep me company.

I found a bench looking out toward the marsh, but, no pathway to it. No matter, I kept walking, and walking and walking. A stout rabbit watched me along the path, hopping into the brush when I got closer, surely wondering what this lady with a camera was doing. Well, taking photos, of course, along the prairie teeming with life and woods with their primal sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I passed the back of the university and doubled around (or so I thought) past a wetland and then reaching the very end of the trail. Not THE END, of course, for I needed to work my way back to the beginning. Good thing I took so many photos. They became my Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs as I wandered past the wetland and university’s back yard, the bunny path and the prairie. I heard the wail of siren bringing someone to the nearby hospital and saw the lush view of the marsh, made a slow turn at a junction, walked a bit more and then, there it was, the stumpy foot of the tree that seemed to be spilling out words to me “oh, hey there, lady wanderer, here’s the way back” – and it was!

I love these simple moments of discovery and adventure and respect those who have found ways to save these living sanctuaries.

How about you? Have you wandered somewhere new lately – or somewhere familiar that rides the tides of time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The door opened and there they were!

It seemed like forever since we had been with our Up North family. Late at night from far away, they tumbled in with boxes and bags and suitcases, and with all the pent up energy that had been stowed away during their long car drive. Hugs and kisses and then they, and we, all bedded down for the night and a week of being blissfully busy.

I feel inordinately blessed that our grandchildren feel at home and comfortable with us and that they settle in swiftly while upping the ante of energy, at least as far as this granny is concerned.

Life is grand!

So it was, on that very first day, that breakfasts were eaten, the garden explored, bikes and scooters employed and impending adventures discussed, bringing us all to the Morton Arboretum to track down the infamous trolls guarding the grounds.

Wow! He’s big!

Uh, this one is going to eat Ezra!

Papa rescued Ezra, who found a rather large footrest to settle upon for a bit.

“Yia Yia, do you know that flowers look better in a picture when you show them with your hand?” said Kezzie. Our citizen scientist and budding photographer then proceeded to demonstrate how. .

 

Such a sweet boy, waiting for his treat to arrive.



Kezzie, the afore-mentioned citizen scientist, noticed something moving in the grasses at the pond just outside the large expanse of windows in the Visitors Center. What’s a gal to do when she sees such a thing? She takes her Yia Yia’s hand and leads her around the pond to find it – and we did! All markings lead to a Black Capped Night Heron. Searching for the heron mushroomed into an enjoyable walk, looking at flowers and for turtles, hearing crickets and spotting dragonflies. Eventually, a search party (Papa and Auntie Jenny) were expedited to search for us – and found us!

 

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Following a rather busy June and early July, I decided to make the most of some much appreciated down time to just be me.

This, of course, translates easily into me wandering off to explore nature.

So it was on an overcast Saturday afternoon that the I opted for a walk at the Dean Nature Sanctuary in Oak Brook.

The sanctuary is a wildlife habitat – hidden in plain view. It was through the generous endowment of one of the early founding residents of Oak Brook, Dorothy Dean. With the assistance of the Conservation Foundation, Dorothy Dean generously donated this expanse of land to the Oak Brook Park District.

The story of this sanctuary is an interesting history lesson as well as a unique example of land preservation and stewardship. It also provides insight into the personality and foresight of Dorothy Dean, who used the advance of the Illinois Tollway system to her – and now our – advantage and resulted in the large pond at the site which is a refuge to waterfowl and wildlife. The story is rendered with more perfection than I can do here on my little blog. I encourage you to click on the link below to learn more.

Under the threat of rain, I parked the car, and scurried to one of the paths to make a quick loop around the pond and to rejoice in midst of a riot of prairie bloom! Cone flowers and bergamot, Culver’s root and brown-eyed Susan were bending in the breeze – or stretching toward sunlight, while a

 pair of mourning doves shared a branch high atop of tree.

As I walked, I noticed plant stems bending ever-so-slowly to the will of pollinators; bees and wasps and butterflies spreading the secrets of summer. From stem-to-stem they worked their way among the blooms of the sanctuary, while a heron stalked the edge of the pond and red-winged blackbirds taunted each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I often walk the paths of the Dean Nature Sanctuary, it seemed particularly special for me on Saturday afternoon. I enjoyed getting some exercise, clearing my mind, and observing the living things surrounding me. A dog was walking its master while a gaggle of pre-teen girls passed by, giggling at something on one of their phones. Something splashed loudly in the pond and a hawk circled overhead, looking for dinner, I supposed. I needed to head home to do the same so headed to my car feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Later, at home, checking out the website for the Dean Nature Sanctuary, a visual caught my eye. Oh! Bee Parks Honey. The Oak Brook Park District was selling honey harvested from the Dean Nature Sanctuary! I prefer to use local honey whenever I can, as you may recall, and dug a little deeper into the site. I sent an email to the Park District, and promptly received a very nice response thanking me for my inquiry and informing me that I could buy the honey at the park district office. All honey money (my term) will be used to support their universal playground project. I wish them well in this endeavor. Parks that are accessible to everyone benefit all of us.

Guess where I went the next afternoon?


https://www.obparks.org/history

 

 

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