Thursday, December 3, 2009

Remembrances of Things Green...

The trip up to the Midwest was uneventful - just like you want them! I drove the speed limit, stopped every couple hours for snacks, gas or bathroom breaks and it took nearly exactly 30 hours over 2.5 days - just like Google Maps predicted. The Highlander worked great, though the "check engine" light came on in Oklahoma. I got a shop to do a computer readout and the catalytic converter was triggering it, so may have to get that looked at eventually. But the mileage stayed up near 25mpg the entire trip except the first tank which had some mighty headwinds, so a good trip!

You know, in our now frequent trips to Illinois, you subconsciously remember how it was and sort of expect it to be the same when you return, especially in the 2 months since we were last here. And the temps in Tucson even a few weeks ago were approaching 90, so it is easy to forget that we are approaching winter rapidly. A walk through Tekakwitha Woods yesterday before picking up Melinda at O'Hare drove that point home quickly. Hardly anything green remains, except some of the grass along the paths through the prairie that was full of flowers and insects 8 weeks ago. Now it was shades of brown and grey, though there were signs of wildlife - tracks of deer, and paths through the dried goldenrod and Queen Anne's Lace to trampled places where they've bedded down.

I followed the path down through the forest path to the Fox River, now visible for a considerable distance through the now bare trees. Again, except for a squirrel or two and what I think was an owl from a long distance, no signs of life. But down by the river, something I've not seen before - signs of beaver! At least from the downed saplings and a girdled tree or two, I'd say it was beaver. I looked, but didn't see any footprints in the mud along the river, so don't know how recent the signs were, but the sapling brought down looked recent. And there, huddled down in the tooth marks of the downed sapling, a single ladybug, one spot of color in the grey world... It immediately brought to mind my last walk at Tekakwitha just before our return to Tucson. I went out with the macro lens and ended up shooting bugs until I exhausted the camera battery. One of the last pics was of a slightly different variety of ladybug - big and bold in a sea of green.

I continued on to the Fox River Bike Path and crossed the Fox at one of my favorite places where summers past I've photographed cedar waxwings, great blue herons and egrets. Visible midstream in the distance are the first couple of islands making up Five Islands Park in the Kane County park system. Also visible are the lights of The Hideaway restaurant, billed as one of Al Capone's hideouts built on the river for a quick speedboat getaway should the cops come calling. It was cold, grey, and dark, even though only 4:30. Time to get on to O'Hare and pick up Melinda...

This morning continued cold outside, but snug inside thanks partly to the new insulation we've installed in parts of the house. Checking our e-mails, we still have a great view of the Fox River from the comfort of our sun room. While admiring the snow flurries this morning, Melinda spotted a group of white tail deer crossing the yard. I was only able to get a shot of one peering over a handrail at us before they headed over the hill, waving their white flags of a tail as they departed.

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