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Pull Up A Seat – Wishful Thinking

With the temperature at -3F and a wind chill factor of -30F, all I can do is dream of warmer days at the Chicago Botanic Garden. But as my dear old Mum, ever the optimist, always used to say, “Never mind, dear! We’re one day closer to Spring.”


For more on the Pull Up A Seat Photo Challenge at XingfuMama go to Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge 2019-Week 4

Hard To Believe

In view of all the dreary, grey days that we’ve experienced recently, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the sun has actually put in an appearance from time to time.  One such occurrence presented itself last week and I took advantage of the opportunity to go for a walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg.

The one slippery spot that I came across during this trek was the observation deck that overlooks the pond, but luckily I had hold of the railings otherwise I might have had difficulty obeying the sign.


The Volkening Heritage Farm area is closed until March1st (unless you call ahead to gain admittance) but, leaning over the gate that blocks off the path, I got a good view of the horses enjoying some welcome sunshine outside the barn.

 

There were quite a few people at the Center, parents with their children, photographers, nature lovers and walkers, all making the most of the relatively fine weather, as the footprints on the paths and trails attested. We were all smiling, clearly pleased with the way the day was going and obviously hoping that the sun would continue to shine down on us, at least for another hour or two.


The sun stayed out at least long enough for us to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.  Now we are back to cloudy skies and the threat of snow later on today, but looking on the bright side, this may present us with more photo opportunities.


A Different Light

A few days ago, when 2018 was rapidly drawing to a close, the sun finally came out so I decided to take a break from the routine that we have settled into these past few months and go to the Chicago Botanic Garden for a much needed long walk and a breath of fresh air.

Usually, when I go to the Garden it’s early in the morning but on this particular day I wanted to catch the last of the Christmas lights so I waited until later in the afternoon which enabled me to see things in a slightly different light.

The air was crisp and clear but there was little or no wind which made pleasant conditions for walking. It’s been a while since I went around the garden in Winter and it was interesting to see the stark lines of the trees and shrubs and the exposed walls amid a light dusting of snow, especially in the English Garden.


Heading over towards the bridge that leads to the Japanese Garden, I passed some geese pecking away at the grass. I’m not quite sure what they were finding to eat there but evidently it was enough to hold their interest.

Two bridges, both leading to Evening Island, cast long shadows in the afternoon light, and the bells rang out clear from the Carillon Tower.

The sun caught the top of the new copper sheathing on the roof of the Regenstein Center and as it dipped below the trees, the Christmas lights began to appear. Not only was I seeing the Garden in a different light but life in general. Now that my mother-in-law is in hospice care at her house in Chicago I have come to realize how lucky I am to still be able to get about and visit places like this. To have the ability to come and go as I please is an extraordinary gift and one that I hope I never take for granted.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

During our recent trip to Minnesota we were pleasantly surprised when we made a last-minute decision to visit Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul.  The conservatory was our main focus but when we realized that the zoo was right next door, we thought, “why not.” The fact that there was no admission fee for either place made a visit there even more enticing.


Besides the splendid plant collections inside the conservatory, there was a beautiful Japanese Garden and a spectacular show of water lilies outside the Visitor Center.

Although the zoo may not be as large as some, it had an amazing collection of animals in natural enclosures that allowed for some nice close-up photography opportunities.



 

 

 

Both the zoo and conservatory are operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department and are open year-round.

I can highly recommend a visit to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It’s a great place for family fun as it also includes a small amusement park and carousel.



Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Small is Beautiful

This week, Amy has chosen ‘Small is Beautiful’ as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  I didn’t need to search the photo files for this one. The choice was obvious. Our youngest granddaughter, just a few days old, small and beautiful.  For more on this photo challenge go to #11: Small Is Beautiful.

A Day At The Races

Summer wouldn’t be complete without at least one day at the races at Arlington Park.  Our granddaughter loves animals and especially horses so Arlington was high on our list of things to do during her visit.

I will say this, however, that a trip to Arlington may, on the face of it, seem like a cheap day out – parking is free and entrance to the Park is reasonable on certain days – but once inside, beware.  Apart from the obvious temptation to have a bit of a flutter on the gee-gees, the price of food and beverages is ridiculously high! I could have bought a decent bottle of wine for the cost of a small bottle of water and a thrifty shopper could have fed themselves for a week on what I shelled out for ice cream (the first thing the kids ask for when we go somewhere like this.)

Still, the high price of feeding and watering the troops was well worth it, just to see these beautiful creatures step daintily past as they made their way out of the paddock, hopefully with the winning jockey on board.

The horses aren’t the only things racing about at the track.  There isn’t an awful lot of time in between each race so we must decide which horse we like according to name, color of the jockey’s silks or the even more scientific method of sticking a pin in the list of runners, then run up the steps to place a small wager, out again and down the steps to view the horses in the paddock to make sure our choice is still alive and kicking, then back up again so we can go down to the rails to cheer the winner home. It’s quite exhausting!

Things usually go very smoothly at Arlington.  I’m always impressed by how efficiently everyone does their job, from the stable lads and the people who maintain the track to the person who plays the bugle (or is it trumpet?) before each race.

We did quite well that day. Three winners out of seven races which, for us, is about par for the course. And the pleasure we got from seeing our granddaughter meeting one of the horses face to face so to speak, rounded out our trip to the races very nicely.

A Day At The Zoo

We recently hosted two of our grandchildren for a visit during their summer vacation and the first place our granddaughter wanted to go to was Brookfield Zoo. We’re always happy to put our membership to good use, so off we went.  The zoo covers a large area, some 216 acres, so there was plenty of walking involved, with lots to see and do.

 

The giraffes, largest animals in the ‘Habitat Africa! The Savannah’ exhibit, are always a favorite. The last time we were here we caught one of them in a scuffle with a pair of geese. Things were more peaceful this time. I’m always fascinated by the way these graceful creatures deal with the advantages and disadvantages of their height.


The featured attraction at the zoo this summer is the ‘Amazing Arachnids’ exhibit.  Display cases housed in a large tent hold a wide variety of these scary spiders most of them well hidden from view. Only the larger ones were easy to spot, if you could get near enough to get a look in.  The zoo is especially busy just now and a certain amount of patience is required if you want to see these creepy-crawlies up close.

The bears, meanwhile, were snoozin’ and cruisin’ in the summer sun, which was kind of surprising given how hot it was. You would think that they’d be favoring the shady areas (like the rest of us) with those thick fur coats they’re wearing but that didn’t prove to be the case.


When the ‘Tropic World’ exhibit opened in the 1980s it was, at that time, the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the world. It’s still a popular feature at Brookfield especially when there are young Western Lowland Gorillas getting up to all kinds of antics.

Large birds were much in evidence in all areas of the zoo, including a penguin that wasn’t the least bit camera shy, a couple of pelicans taking it easy by the Formal Pool, an emu that we got to meet up close and personal at the Hamill Family Wild Encounters exhibit, an eagle that appeared to have discovered something interesting in the undergrowth of its enclosure and a peacock that was just showing off in all directions.


After spending many hours walking around the zoo, our pace had slowed down to that of this tortoise so we figured it was about time to call it a day.

 

The Sweetest Flower of All

We recently took a road trip to Texas to celebrate the birth of our youngest granddaughter and I thought that it would be interesting to take pictures of our garden prior to leaving and compare them to how the garden looked when we returned two weeks later.

The beginning of June is the most colorful time of year in our garden and I knew we would probably miss seeing some of the flowers that were on the brink of blooming, but there were enough of them out to wish us a cheery farewell. The peonies were in full bloom and irises of all types and varieties were looking quite spectacular despite losing many to iris borers this year.


Blues and pinks and purples were well represented, with flax flowers, bluebells, salvia Caradonna, Baptisia australis, pinks, weigela, heuchera Coral Bells, Johnson’s Blue cranesbill and aquilegia all making a fine show.


The poppies, including my favorite Turkenlouis, were continuing to burst open but I figured I’d probably miss the pink Carneums.

A lot can happen in two weeks!  Apparently we had quite a bit of rain while we were gone and the weeds had taken over. There were still a few remnants of the flowers that had been blooming when we left and some that had come and gone while we were away. However, the garden was not without some fresh color.

Apart from all the weeds that have invaded every part of the garden, some of the plants that are supposed to be here have run rampant and there is also quite a bit of deadheading to be done; a lot of work ahead of us, no doubt. But all the toil will have been well worth it as we got to see the sweetest flower of all, our little Texas treasure.


 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – Liquid Ripples

The topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Liquid and comes fortuitously for me as you will see, later in this post.  Water can have a very calming effect and, with everything that’s happening in the world today, we could all use a few moments of tranquility to reflect, which is why, instead of heaving seas, raging rivers and tumbling waterfalls, I’ve opted for more peaceful scenes. The first two images were captured in Snowy Range Pass, Wyoming.

The next two pictures were taken at Sylvan Lake and Palisades State Park, South Dakota, perfect places to sit and meditate.

Wisconsin also has some very scenic spots in which to enjoy some relaxation time.

These gently rippling waters lead me to an opportunity to share a link with you that I sincerely hope you will try. My eldest grandson, someone of whom I have written about in several of my previous posts has recently started a podcast called Exit The Echoes. I cannot say enough good things about this young man, who recently became a father for the first time, and I am more than happy to give this new venture a mention here on WordPress.  The subject of his latest episode seemed to fit in so well with the pictures that I had in mind for this post, so please, if you can, spare a few minutes of your time to listen to  Meditation: Ripples And Echoes and I’m sure you will enjoy his liquid tones.

These last two pictures were taken at Whitefish Point, Michigan and Council Grounds, Wisconsin.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Liquid