It’s tulip time in Chicago.The daffy parrot tulips are full on, so it’s late tulip time. Looking for something in my photo library just now, I stumbled on this picture of silly tulips that used to pop up smack in the middle of the way back of the yard in Slaterville. Someone’s long ago flash of color in a grown-over flower bed I guess.
I kind of loved them, these loud and blowsy bulbs, mowed around them, let the leaves grow and die out on their own. Along with the blue and white violets and tiny grape hyacinths sprinkling out around them into the green, they were like our own spring ephemerals. Riotous and special.
No telling who planted them or how far back. Had the little house next door that had been lifted off its foundation and rolled over there once stood here? Was this the corner of a shed once, with no footprint left save this little strip of spring?
Now that we’re gone, too, I wonder what has taken hold from my old garden, which roots will outlast new owners with brown thumbs, lawn mowers, digging dogs, dry summers, and deer. I wonder if the planter of the red and yellow tulips ever looks back. Because I sure miss that patch of green, dammit.
My Mom & Dad love Christmas. They made our home so beautiful, it was like a fantasy to me. Decorating our tree with glossy painted wooden ornaments collected over 3 tours in Germany, kid-crafted styrofoam balls with school pictures tacked on, my Dad’s paper & fuzzy bearded Santa made when he was about 5, and the funny angel on top was the big event, but floating through the many weeks was the music. Holy music, Jingle Bells, their choir songs played at the piano, and John Denver and the Muppets. (We are an unabashedly John Denver-loving home.)
As I play Chrstmas tunes for my little boy, songs bubble up on Padora from those Christmas specials we all waited for and watched together with glee (and played on records over and over), happy-sad tears come to my eyes and I can’t explain to him why. He doesn’t understand homesickness yet, and hasn’t sang “Silent Night” 1200 times yet, either.
I miss you, Mom & Dad, but in the yearning is the feeling and the anchor and the faith you gave me, burning bright. We love making traditions for Pete that I hope he’ll still treasure 42 years from now.
On the best of days, this really is the time of year when “everyone seems like a part of everyone’s family,” but at the heart of it is my own. I love Christmas and I love you!
Now that I have a brood box (base part of a beehive) in my basement, and am avidly looking for a safe spot in the city to install it and move in some bees, I’m especially excited to read about community apiaries in places like Pittsburgh. Chicago is bee-friendly, and I’m hopeful we can get our hive a spot in a community garden soon.
Deep in the defunct industrial zones and backyards of Buffalo, N.Y., there’s a buzz developing — quite literally, in the form of secret beehives. Across the city, a small network of under-the-radar beekeepers has formed. They keep hives in backyards, vacant lots, and even on garage roofs.
“Two years ago, I was just kind of wandering around one of the smaller, cottage neighborhoods that we have here, and I noticed one woman with all this bee art covering her garage,” says Alexandra Farrington, a beekeeper in Buffalo. “I asked her if she kept bees. First she asked if I was a cop, and then she said, ‘Well, if you promise not to tell … yeah, I’ve got a few hives on the roof of my garage.’”
While Buffalo has no laws explicitly banning the practice of beekeeping, many neighbors view the critters as a public nuisance. Keepers worry that enough complaints might add up to local legislation that would…
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Nah, still here in Chicago. But today I came across a song that put me in a Gram Parsons frame of mind.
Jim James (in disguise as Yim Yames) doing a slow burn cover of a song I dearly love. (How did I miss this?)
This song became an instafave the moment I heard it years ago on the “Return of the Grievous Angel” tribute to Parsons, performed with soul and sexy swagger by Raul Malo and the Mavericks. Juicy.
But here is the man who gave it to us. The record version always sounded so tame to me compared to the cover. But listen to Gram & the Flying Burrito Brothers jam live. Maybe I haven’t appreciated the original enough. Better late than never.
Let me know what stuff you love to see and hear remade, revamped, remodeled, reworked. Cause the good stuff, it’s worth keeping.
The lake ice is melting and it’s something to see. I would have been walking anyhow, but A Tidewater Gardener’s Winter Walk-Off inspired me to take my camera. I don’t do this in Chicago really. Wielding large electronic devices out by yourself invites mugging. Sucky but true. But on a sunny 50-degree Friday, photos were in order. Ice melts fast.
To begin with, I’m breaking Rule #1, which is “don’t show your own garden.” But Bud hasn’t made an appearance here in so long! He didn’t join me at the lakeshore, but he did some wading in the yard.
I drove to 51st Street, the northern border of Hyde Park, and started at the north end of Harold Washington Park. This is the model yacht basin. Never have we seen a yacht afloat. But hundreds of waterfowl do foul it pretty good. This doesn’t stop people using it as a giant dog park when it’s drained and snowed over. The basin is ringed in crab apples, spectacular in springtime. You can see the 51st St. pedestrian bridge that crosses over Lakeshore Drive to the edge of Lake Michigan. That’s where we’re headed.
The view south from the bridge.
And the view north.
Signs of activity.
Running water. (looking right)
Right under my feet into the lake. (looking left)
I should have made you a pano of these.
Looking south toward the Point, scene of open-water swimming, moonrise playgroups, campfires, George Lucas’ wedding, and recent coyote sightings.
Shoreline management is rather brutal. The ice dunes in the distance are several meters high.
Thar she blows! You know, it isn’t technically called the Sears Tower anymore, but Willis Tower sounds like somebody’s little brother.
Without scale here, you can’t tell the ice is a few meters deep.
Everything is ripe for tagging. I think this says, “Know Live Gain”?
I prefer the art in the old quarried stone blocks.
And finding some names quite dear to us.
Are you still here? We are almost to Pebble Beach, everyone’s favorite unofficial, un-lifeguarded swimming beach. We like it in part because no sewers drain here, as near other public beaches. The concrete barriers suffered in that polar vortex, it appears.
I didn’t ask the beachcomber what he was looking for with his tiny shovel and toothbrush.
After the beach the walking at water’s edge starts to break up and get rough and overgrown, so we tend to go back to the Lakeshore hike and bike path, (even though with beagle and baby, we are hazards to the rabid triathletes in training, and they to us. We stay on the grass as much as possible.) The outhouse is a work of art.
This is where I turned around to head back and pick up my boy from preschool close by. It was so good to be out in warm sun, however briefly. It snowed the next night, and the days since have been crappy and wet and cold. But today Bud and I found snowdrops lurking under an east-facing shrub. Snowdrops. Take that and good riddance, lake ice.
Thanks for the boost, Les, and for gathering gardeners virtually as we sweat out this long winter.
I feel proactive! I pull out weeds!
In honor of my new inhaler, and my garden friend and famous author Kris, and the fact that I never blog anymore, here’s a ditty, and it’s not even Monday. Now everybody breathe in!
Maybe it was that college job taking care of plants in malls, banks, and businesses for my sister’s company that put me off house plants forever, or maybe the poor rosemary was just too close to the floor vent. The Venus flytrap, sad to report, also bit the dust. A tropical plant on a windowsill in a bloody cold Chicago winter is bound to suffer. Or maybe I just overwatered it. The postmortem was skipped.
My mom and sisters have gorgeous plants inside. Mine die. Well, the non-succulents die. So far we are keeping alive a few small jades, a zygocactus, some hens & chicks I didn’t want to unpot, and one surprisingly tough eyelash begonia. All brought from NY, and all that would fit in the car. I owe them that.