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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Memorable Events

This week, Ann-Christine has suggested Memorable Events as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This is usually the time of year when I have a hard time coming up with fresh material so it’s nice to be able to go back into the photo files for this one, although I still prefer to share images that haven’t been used before. It’s always satisfying to know that a day’s shooting has been reasonably successful and last year I had some memorable moments at Brookfield Zoo when I was fairly confident that I’d come away with at least a few good shots.

During much of the pandemic, the gorilla enclosure had been closed so I cheated a bit with the first shot, capturing instead an image of the new statue that had just been installed near the entrance.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Double Dipping

This week, Tina has suggested that we try Double Dipping for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I take up where I left off last year, at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. I had intended to use these images for Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere challenge, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to double dip.

Like the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Anderson Garden is designed around its many water features which include everything from gushing waterfalls and large koi-filled ponds to meandering streams and secluded spots where the sound of water trickles from bamboo fountains.

There is plenty of wildlife to see, in, on and around the water. The koi are easily persuaded to rise to the surface with a handful of special food purchased at the Visitors Center.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serene

This week, Patti is keeping things Serene for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. To my mind, there is nothing more serene and peaceful than a Japanese Garden. The following are some of the images that I captured on my most recent visit to the Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford, one of the most tranquil and beautiful of its kind in the Illinois area.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – PowWow Portraits

This week, Tina has suggested that we Choose our own theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. In this, the season of goodwill, I thought this little story was rather apt.

I often wonder what my Great-Grandmother would have made of these portraits. She and my mother were very close, right up until her death just days before my mother got married in 1936. She shared many stories about her life and this is one that my mother passed on to me.

In 1873, when Alice was only 16 years old, she, her husband and two-month-old son boarded the Hibernian and set sail from England for a new life in Canada. From what I can make out from records that I obtained from Ancestry, they lived somewhere in the Cobourg area of Ontario.

I don’t know what conditions were like in Cobourg at that time but the family was probably only just making a living and, after three years, Alice was already expecting her second child. She recounted to my mother how one day a North American Indian came to their door with what she at first took to be a knife. I can only assume that she had good reason to be, as she recalled, terrified, but when she realized that it was only a spoon and that he had come in the hopes of obtaining some food, they readily shared their meal.

Being the family historian, that story has always intrigued me and for a long time I wanted to visit an American Indian Pow Wow just to get a sense of the traditions and customs. This year was our second opportunity to experience a Pow Wow and the gentleman in the last picture very kindly offered my daughter, granddaughter and myself shelter from the freezing rain under one of the organizers’ tents. We were very grateful and at that moment I felt like our family history had come full circle, with one good turn being repaid by another.

Wishing you all the blessings of the season.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Celebrating

This week, Amy asks us to show what it’s like to be Celebrating for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. The Native American Pow Wow is a sacred social gathering, a celebration of the American Indian culture. This year, the 68th Annual Chicago Pow Wow was held in October at Schiller Woods, and although the weather was chilly and wet on the day that I visited, the lively drumbeat and energetic dancing eventually saw the sun shine on this well-attended event.

Intertribal dancing, where everyone is invited to join in, is more of a social dance resembling a pleasant walk in the park with a friend. It is interesting to note that the Pow Wow this year was held on the same weekend that President Biden declared October 11th Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and it was nice to see a Maori dancer among those in the circle.

Competition dancing is a whole different thing and takes a good deal of energy and stamina, especially when you consider the weight of the regalia that some of the dancers wear. With intricate footwork, bells jingling and the fast beat of the drums, the dancing gets underway and it is quite an impressive sight.

The regalia must be appropriate to the dance and some of the designs are absolutely stunning! I can only image the hours that are spent on beadwork like this. The Pow Wow provides a unique opportunity to preserve the rich heritage of American Indian traditions and share those traditions with other cultures. The Pow Wow brings everyone together.

The fancy feather dances are my favorite, with competitors twirling and displaying those colorful plumes. So much of the Native American culture is bound up with nature. Even the rain that was falling at the beginning of the proceedings was considered a blessing, although I found it difficult to look at it in that light as I sat shivering on a wet hay bale. But thankfully things warmed up and dried out later in the day.

There is often a significant cash prize at stake for the winners of these dances so they are hotly contested. But no matter what the outcome, everyone has cause to celebrate a successful Pow Wow. After months of careful planning, drummers, singers and dancers at this 3-day event provide a stirring display.

Water, Water Everywhere – At Gooseberry Falls

I’m not sure if I’ve participated in this challenge before but I thought Jez’s WWE photo challenge would be a good opportunity for me to share some pictures that I took up at Gooseberry Falls, about an hour’s drive north of Duluth in Minnesota, last month. The Falls are easy to access and consist of three levels, upper, middle and lower falls.

The Grove

Taking advantage of some unseasonably warm weather on Monday, I decided to do some photography at The Grove, a nature reserve, not too far from home, in Glenview, that I had first visited a couple of years ago.

The Grove, preserved and maintained by the Glenview Park District is an outdoor history and nature museum on 150 acres and includes an interpretive Center that houses a nice collection of turtles, snakes and other animals and birds, and several educational buildings such as the Blacksmith shop and a log cabin.

Also on the grounds is The Kennicott House, home of horticulturist and educator Dr. John Kennicott who settled on the property in 1836. His son, Robert Kennicott founded The Chicago Academy of Sciences.

I don’t know why I haven’t visited The Grove more often other than the fact that I am more used to places like Spring Valley and Crabtree Nature Center and get in a bit of a panic when I get lost on unfamiliar trails, even if I’m not more than a long stone’s throw from civilization. I have a terrible sense of direction and tend to resemble not so much a seasoned, experienced hiker as a nervous Hansel & Gretel following a non-existent trail of breadcrumbs. However, I decided to throw caution to the wind and risk a foray out to the back 70 acres and was pleasantly surprised. There was still plenty of autumn color and the trail took me through a variety of woods and wetlands.

I came upon a garter snake beside the boardwalk, wrestling with a toad that managed to hop away as the snake looked up to check my progress. The snake gave me a disgruntled look and slithered away while the toad, no doubt thanking his lucky stars, remained hidden under the boardwalk.

There are a lot of very old trees on the property, many of which have either been blown or cut down. I saw and heard quite a few chipmunks squeaking and scurrying about among the fallen branches and there was a continual rustling of leaves as squirrels foraged about looking for winter provisions.

I had been wondering if there were any deer in the woods and as I stopped by one of the many small pools along the trail, I was rewarded by a sighting of three of them, two females and a young male busy looking for food. They were on the alert but didn’t seem bothered by the fact that I was so close and I tried not to give them any reason to be alarmed. They crossed my path a couple of times as I was heading back to the parking lot.

Before I left, I stopped to have a look around the Redfield Estate which is also on the same property. Both The Grove and the Redfield Estate have been deemed National Historic Landmarks. Our eldest daughter was married here at the Redfield House in 2019 and it proved to be the perfect venue, inside and out, for this family celebration. I’ve promised myself that I will be a more frequent visitor to The Grove in future.

Polar Bear Week

Apparently the first week of November was Polar Bear Week so here are a few shots from the polar bear files. Better late than never! All these images were captured at various times throughout this year at Brookfield Zoo except the last one which is an old favorite of mine, taken at Lincoln Park Zoo, and one that I drag out of mothballs every once in a while to give it an airing.

If we don’t do something about global warming pretty d….. quick, the only place you will be able to see polar bears will be in zoos like Brookfield. The conservation work they do will give bears like this a fighting chance but only if we all do our bit. Because of climate change, polar bears have been classified as a vulnerable species.