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A Hot Day In A Cool Garden

Tuesday probably wasn’t the most comfortable day to be walking around outside, temperatures were in the high 80’s and humidity way up there, but the rain had finally cleared out and I wanted to see the Butterfly Exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

While I was waiting for the exhibit to open, I wandered over to a part of the garden that I have never visited before. This area is primarily for kids. They have a learning center there and a play area. The Cove is a platform by the lake where they can study life along the water’s edge and a group from summer camp were looking for frogs.

Back to the butterflies. Butterflies and Blooms is a really cool opportunity for people to see rather more exotic butterflies than the ones we usually get in our own gardens. There are also some beautiful flowers to enjoy.

After more than an hour of walking round and round the butterfly enclosure, I decided to head over to the English Walled Garden for a little shade and a drink of water.

By this time I had used up just about all of my energy and decided to make one more stop, at the Circle Garden before heading for the exit.

I think this little bird had the right idea. He, at least, was keeping cool on this very hot day.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Getting Away

Another timely choice of theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge from our guest hosts this week, Rusha and Bert, who would like to see our take on Getting Away. We haven’t been far afield for some time but we did manage to get away on a trip to Wisconsin this past weekend. It’s amazing how many activities you can pack into a single day when the moving force is a three-year old.

Our youngest granddaughter started the proceedings with a demonstration of her ballet skills. I think she has quite an interesting technique.

Next she showed us how to have fun at the beach. Her choice of venue on this occasion was Bradford Beach, just north of Milwaukee, and I was able to get one or two interesting shots while we looked for shells and feathers, including one of the historic water tower nearby and an impromptu exercise class that had been conveniently set up next to the bar. I had to admire their enthusiasm and I joined them in spirit if not in body.

Our final stop of the day was at the Milwaukee Zoo, where we got some useful tips on feeding the goats. In between trying to stop our tour guide from climbing into all the animal enclosures I did manage to snag some shots of a Cinereous Vulture, one of three, who demonstrated clearly why it was unable to make it in the wild.

Also in the same enclosure were a couple of Southern Ground Hornbills. I’m not sure if this was part of a courting ritual but one of them seemed intent on impressing its partner with a dead rodent. She clearly wasn’t interested so he hopped nearer to the fence to show us. I could imagine him thinking, “What’s not to like?! as he waved his trophy around, looking for some sign of appreciation..

A little further on we came across two grizzlies, one of which appeared to be playing a game of hide and seek.

The last shot of the day was of a peacock chick. I’d never seen one before so I was quite pleased to be able to capture this image.

After all that, our tour guide was showing signs of fatigue and it wasn’t too long before she was fast asleep in the back of the car as we made our way home. I was feeling quite exhausted too and although it was great to get away and see the family, I have to take issue with that old saying about a change being as good as a rest.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Vanishing Point

This week, Cee has chosen Vanishing Point as the theme for her Black & White Photo Challenge. There are several sections of the walk around Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg that provide a ‘vanishing’ perspective. I always wonder what I’ll see when I get to the other end or around the next corner.

The images were captured last year. We are expecting a blizzard this evening and these paths will probably be under several inches of snow by tomorrow so it will be a while before I walk them again.

Preparations

Despite the current pandemic, life goes on. Preparations must be made for future events such as Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The last time I was there they were planting thousands of bulbs which will eventually provide a colorful display of flowers in every area of the garden but more especially in the Crescent Garden.

They were also getting ready for their annual outdoor holiday display of lights, which I see from their website is already sold out. It certainly helped to make up for the lack of flowers on this trip. From what I could make out, part of the display will include installations depicting star constellations which would explain why they had the moon dangling from the bridge to the Japanese Garden.

Meanwhile, over at Brookfield Zoo, they were draining the ponds in preparation for winter and getting ready for their ‘Holiday Magic’ light display. Outdoor displays like this are an excellent way to lift our spirits while wearing masks and maintaining safe distances between fellow visitors. I just hope the weather cooperates.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Inspiration

This week, Tina has chosen Inspiration as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. With so many places closed down, travel restrictions in place and family gatherings limited because of Covid, and trips to the city put on indefinite hold because of increasing violence, I’ve been finding it hard lately to get motivated enough to get out and take pictures. I decided to look to the younger generation for some inspiration. Youngest granddaughter loves going to the zoo and great-grandson adores dinosaurs so yesterday I took my cue from them and headed over to Brookfield Zoo where by happy coincidence they are featuring a dinosaur exhibit. I think the kids would have approved.

Although the place was quite busy, most people wore masks and practiced social distancing and it was good to see families out there enjoying themselves, taking a break from all the turmoil that health, politics, social injustice and natural disasters has thrown at us this year.

Although the zoo itself is open, not surprisingly, all the indoor exhibits are closed which meant no pictures of gorillas in Tropic World and only a limited view of the bears. Add to this the fact that most of the animals were sleeping (when aren’t they?) and with the usual challenge of trying to get a decent shot through the intervening fences and wires, it proved to be an interesting exercise in zoo photography.

Despite so many of the attractions and services being unavailable, the zoo more than made up for it with the addition of the Dinosaur Exhibition. These prehistoric giants looked quite at home in their various settings and the animatronics and sound effects had all the kids (and some of the adults) squealing with excitement.

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Winter

This week, Ann-Christine invites us to share some Winter images for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I have to admit that I am a creature of comfort and rarely stray too far from home during the winter months. The older I get, the less appealing the idea of getting togged up in boots, scarf, mittens and heavy winter coat becomes.  These shots, three at the Chicago Botanic Garden and one at the Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg are a few in my very sparse collection of typical winter photos.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Autumn

This week, Patti is looking forward to Autumn for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. For so many reasons, autumn is probably my most favorite time of year. Primarily, I love the colors, and then there’s the cooler weather, not to mention less biting bugs and irate red-wing blackbirds. Of course, any time of year is great at the Chicago Botanic Garden but autumn is a very special season full of bright flowers and glowing foliage.

Autumn is one of the few times in the year that most of our family is able to get together and there is nothing more fun than our Family Fall Festival which is usually held at our daughter’s house in Indiana. She really puts on a terrific show with festive decorations that include Halloween characters, many of which are animated. The kids love it!

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is the ideal place to visit in autumn when the trees are at their most colorful. A membership to the Chicago Botanic Garden gets you into the Arboretum for free and you can spend the day taking in the sights.

And what would autumn be without a trip to the pumpkin farm. This one is in South Barrington, Illinois, but we also visit a couple in Indiana and Wisconsin. They are a little more low-key but usually just as enjoyable.

And finally, one of my all-time favorite Halloween shots. “Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog,” and a Big Mac to go, please.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Cropping The Shot

This week, Patti suggests that we try Cropping the Shot for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  One of the most useful tools in the image-processing arsenal is the cropping tool.  I can’t tell you how many shots I rescued from the trash with a little judicial cropping.

I can even ‘zoom in’ by the simple expedient of the cropping tool, giving me a closer look at something way off in the distance, as I did with this shot taken at Arches National Park in Utah.

And if I’m really lucky I can get four shots for the price of one with the aid of the cropping tool, as I did with this image that was captured along Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, each picture focusing on a different aspect of the overall scene; the more leisurely pace of the bike path, the hustle and bustle of the traffic on the Drive and the work going on aloft.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – All Wet

When Tina suggested All Wet as the topic for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, I didn’t have to go any further than the sea lions at Brookfield Zoo in my photo files.  As a non-swimmer I’ve always admired their graceful movements in the water and even on-shore their ungainly bodies seem to have a certain elegance of posture as they bend and curve to catch the sun’s rays.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Morning

This week, Ann-Christine has chosen Morning as the subject for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.  Things have settled down into a fairly dull routine here which is why I’m looking forward to being able to get out and about again. The Chicago Botanic Garden is probably the first place I’ll visit once the lockdown is eventually lifted and it’s reasonably safe to venture out, preferably first thing in the morning before the crowds get there. I have a feeling there will be quite a few of us with the same idea. Have a good morning and stay safe, everyone.