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.
After the pumpkins had served their purpose on the front doorstep for Halloween, they were moved to the back garden where they took on the appearance of frosted donuts after a light dusting of snow. Then the squirrels moved in. It’s good to recycle!
Continuing with the ‘alphabet with a twist’ theme for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, this week’s topic is the letter k. If a word has only three letters and one of them is a k, there’s a pretty good chance that the word might be elk. And what better place to find elk than in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. These majestic creatures are not native to the area but, because of the name association, a small herd of elk are kept in a protected part of Busse Woods Forest Preserve. They are cared for by the Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff and Busse Woods Forest Preserve wildlife experts.
The original herd of 10 elk was brought in by train from Yellowstone National Park in Montana in 1925 by local resident William Busse. The best time to see them is either early morning or at dusk. They spend a lot of time amongst the trees but when they do come out into the open field they’re a beautiful sight.
We had, initially, been disappointed upon our arrival at the Chicago Botanic Garden to find that only one section of the greenhouse was open to the public. I’d forgotten about preparations for the upcoming Orchid Festival in February. Apparently we were the only ones that weren’t aware of this since we were on our own, wandering around among the cacti. This turned out to be a good thing as it’s usually quite busy in there during the winter months and, not having to feel obliged to move along and make room for other people, I was able to take my time and capture plenty of images. Having driven all the way to the Garden I wasn’t about to go home empty-handed (photographically speaking.)
If you follow my blog on a regular basis you will know that I don’t spend too much time reading labels and notices when I’m taking pictures so I can’t tell you what most of these plants are called, other than to say there were a lot of spiky things and succulent things.
There were a lot of lovely flowers too, that helped to brighten an extremely gloomy day, although I really shouldn’t complain about the weather as it’s been an exceptionally mild winter here in the Chicago area so far.
Please join me for another walk around the greenhouse in winter in a future post and thanks for stopping by.
The hawk has been hanging around here for the past few weeks, making daily passes over the garden and scaring the other birds out of their wits. Today he finally caught something.
Just as he was picking over the bones, a rabbit inadvertently hopped up behind him. The rabbit took one look at what was happening, decided that discretion was the better part of valor and shot off. The hawk spotted it and gave chase. Despite being my arch enemy where the garden is concerned, I’m hoping the rabbit got away
It never ceases to amaze me how our local wildlife is able to survive the brutal weather conditions that we have experienced this winter. With several feet of snow and temperatures in the teens and well below for much of the time, they have managed to find a way to stay alive.
When I see those fragile little creatures going about their daily lives, searching for food and water, struggling against what seem to be insurmountable odds, I feel ashamed of myself, cowering behind the window in a heated room, complaining about having to hop into the car and drive down to the store in the snow to pick up our weekly grocery purchases.
I know there is something about their physical make-up that allows them to withstand the sub-zero temperatures and blizzard-like conditions; fur, feathers and all that, but even so, I can’t help feeling there’s more to it than that.
There’s got to be a certain amount of ingenuity involved and what better master of his craft than the squirrel. When it comes to figuring things out he’s a genius. You can almost see the wheels in his little brain spinning round has he formulates his plan to make the most of every opportunity.
He has worked out that, rather than trying to find a way into the bird feeder to get at the seed, it’s easier to just rip the bottom off the thing and have the contents pour out all over the ground.
I can imagine the others egging him on, the mice and birds cheering as he shinned up the pole and flung himself at the tube, hanging upside down while scrabbling to remove the last obstacle to a successful raid accompanied by the ecstatic cries of “Alright!!!” from an enthusiastic audience of finches, juncos and cardinals.