Tag Archive | Illinois

A Photo A Week – Reflections at Cantigny

The subject for Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge is Reflection and I seem to have captured one or two at Cantigny Park in Wheaton without even realizing it. Quite often, I’m not fully aware of everything that’s in the picture when I take the shot so sometimes it’s nice when something unexpected shows up, especially when I can use it for a photo challenge.


For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Reflection.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Once-Familiar Path

My photo files are overflowing with images of paths in various forms and places, both town and country, but today I made a trip to Crabtree Nature Center specifically for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge as I wanted to document a path that really had some meaning for me.  Mum and I used to visit Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington quite often, but in the eight years since she passed away I have rarely gone back there. I don’t know why. There are plenty of other places that we used to go to together that I still visit regularly but for some reason I feel uncomfortable taking this once-familiar path alone.


All living things change over time, and I was curious to see how Crabtree had fared during the intervening years. Would it have changed that much? I used to know this path like the back of my hand but would it still be like it was when we came here to see the spring flowers or rustle through the autumn leaves, very often talking nineteen to the dozen but also sharing a companionable silence as we made our way through the fields and woods.

As was nearly always the case, I was greeted at the head of the path by several chipmunks, chattering and skittering about among the dead branches. That much, at least, was still the same.

There are two paths that wind their way around Crabtree, covering only a small part of the one thousand acres that make up this sprawling nature reserve. Phantom Prairie Trail is about 2 miles long and Bur Edge Trail, the path that we usually took, is approximately 1.5 miles, the first part of which skirts Sulky Pond.  I was rather disappointed that there was no sign of any migrating birds. I had expected to see a few egrets at the very least but everything was totally still and silent on the pond.

The foliage on either side of the path had become overgrown, covering what once used to be a hide overlooking the pond, and the little causeway at the top of Bulrush Pond where we used to sit for hours sometimes, waiting to see a family of water rats or a beaver, offers very little view of the water now.  However, I did manage to find a turtle well-camouflaged with pond weed and a frog who gave me the cold shoulder.

Even in the last week of September, the mosquitoes were still rampant in the shade under the trees so I was glad to get to the other side of Bulrush Pond and out into the sunshine. I noticed that they have added quite a few more seats along the path but there was always one here where we loved to sit and talk or just look out over the pond.

The path zig-zags through tall grass and spent summer flowers, the milkweed pods bursting open to spread their seeds in the first passing wind, and one or two faded butterflies flitting about among the autumn asters.

 


The path gradually curves back towards the entrance to Crabtree. The observation platform that overlooked neighboring fields has gone but other than that there is very little that has changed.  The big difference now is that my best friend is no longer by my side to have a laugh or wonder at all the things that we have seen, like the time we turned and discovered a deer following close behind us down the path or coming across a huge snapping turtle lumbering back to the pond after laying her eggs or the time we found a nest of snakes among the fallen leaves.



Perhaps I’ll return to Crabtree one day but for now it was enough to have travelled down and become reacquainted with that once-familiar path.

For more on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, which was set for us this week by Tina Schell over at Travels & Trifles go to #12 – PATH

 

A Photo A Week Challenge – Water

Nancy Merrill is looking for water for her Photo A Week Challenge and luckily my trip to Elgin on Saturday morning resulted in some pictures of the Fox River. Who would think that this……….

could so quickly turn into this.  The river by the Veterans Memorial Park and flowing over the dam by the Kimball street bridge.


For more on Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge go to Water.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Twisted in the Wood

There is something incredibly beautiful and dramatic about trees unadorned by their leaves, especially when they are gnarled and twisted with age.  Twisted in Arches National Park, Utah.

Twisted driftwood on the sands at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

Twisted in springtime at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.


Twisted in autumn at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.  The clouds seem to mirror the contortions of the branches.


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

Weekly Photo Challenge – Rise/Set

Sunrise and Sunset. To be quite honest I haven’t seen too many of either, especially the sunrise, or at least, not photogenic ones. And it seems like we’ve been given this topic as a challenge so many times that I’ve exhausted my supply of images on that subject. Luckily, the few that I have seen have been well documented and although I have used these scenes before, each of the following views is slightly different from the pictures I have shown previously.

Included in this selection; sunset from our garden – sunset in Oglesby, Illinois – sunrise on the road in Nebraska – sunset over a smoky Salt Lake City after the wildfires in California – sunrise in Lowell, Indiana – sunrise from Mackinaw City, Michigan – sunset from Mackinaw City, Michigan and sunrise (or sometime a little after) in Ashland, Wisconsin.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Rise/Set

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Leaves or Trees

This week, Cee is looking for leaves or trees for her Fun Foto Challenge so here is my take on the subject.  Like many people, my favorite time of year for viewing trees is in the Autumn when the colors are at their brightest.  Although the Chicago Botanic Garden is not chiefly known for its variety of trees, there is still plenty of fall color to be seen.

One of my favorite times to visit Morton Arboretum in Lisle is in the Spring when the blossom is on the trees.

Another good place to see Autumn color is at local Forest Preserves such as Busse Woods in Schaumburg.

Looking at trees from a slightly different angle at River Trails Nature Center in Northbrook.

Trees are remarkably resilient, finding a foothold even in the most inhospitable of places such as this rock in The Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois.

Even in death, trees hold a certain fascination for me, telling their history through rings and roots.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Leaves or Trees

Cave in Rock

During our visit to Marion last month, we were feeling rather adventurous and decided to make a small side-trip to Cave in Rock State Park.  The cave, for which this park in southern Illinois is named, overlooks the Ohio River.

We had done a lot of walking along woodland trails during the previous couple of days and I must admit that I viewed the river and its rocky bluffs as a welcome change of scenery.

The bluffs towered above us as we made our way along the path towards the cave and I was once again reminded of how unpredictable nature can be, when I remembered the news that morning concerning a fatal rock fall in Yosemite National Park.  I felt extremely vulnerable walking under those great overhanging limestone rocks.

As far as caves go, this one, measuring 55ft across, is not that large, but it has an interesting history.   American Indians had already used the cave for thousands of years but the first European to discover it in 1729 was a Frenchman who mapped and named it “caverne dans Le Roc”.  During the late 1790’s the cave was a hideout for a gang of bandits, headed by Samuel Mason, that preyed on commercial boats using the river. Local lore even tells of Frank and Jesse James using the cave as a hiding place. Later, settlers founded the nearby town of Cave in Rock and it became the site of the ferry that crosses the Ohio River.

I’m not a huge fan of caves. My imagination works overtime in these places and I find them claustrophobic, rather like walking into an extremely large MRI machine. The last time I was in one was many years ago when I went with the Girl Scouts to Eagle Cave in Wisconsin. So it was with some trepidation that took the first few steps into this one and as our only source of light got smaller I felt more and more apprehensive.  What if there were bats!!  Eek!

 

But, I told myself, you can’t take pictures if you don’t get in there!  So on I went. There were no bats. In fact there wasn’t much of anything except a lot of graffiti scrawled across the rock.  It wasn’t easy to get a picture that didn’t include some childish desecration and, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there’s no way I will memorialize these idiotic scratchings by photographing them.

It was good to emerge into the sunlight again and I felt like I could breath a little easier, standing on the banks of the river.

I thought I’d check out the path in the opposite direction, which took me past another smaller cave that had been blocked by some huge tree trunks, whether by nature or the hand of man I wasn’t sure. No matter.  One cave per day was enough for me and this one didn’t look very safe so I was happy to finish the expedition and return to the car.

For those of you interested in visiting, Cave in Rock State Park has a restaurant and lodge as well as playground and picnic areas and plenty of hiking trails.