Photos by photographer Michael Brosilow
Hello again, friends, readers and fellow Chicagoans. Spring has come in a rush this year, has it not, with the grass, trees and flowers all seeming to burst forth from their drab winter appearance to full bloom and blossom almost overnight. Now our city is green and brilliant once again and it’s time for more adventure.
Did you know that the Emerald, that brilliant gemstone that epitomizes “green”, has been prized for millennia? Cleopatra, it’s been said, claimed every emerald mine in Egypt to belong to her alone. No wonder; the emerald has long been considered a symbol of spring and rebirth. In some cultures it’s believed to bring youth, good fortune, and even foresight to whoever wears one. So, my friends, if you celebrate your birthday this month, you are lucky indeed.
May is National Bike Month, so several of our adventures will entail taking our beloved bicycles out and about. Be prepared! Now is the time to check it over and see if a trip to your favorite bike shop is in order before we set out on a long ride. Probably you just need to pump some air into the tires, but it might just be time for a tune-up. Rudy’s Bikes, 5711 W. Irving Park Rd., Working Bikes, 2424 S. Western Ave., and Comrade Cycles, 1908 W. Chicago Ave., are just three of the many, many great bike shops in and near Chicago where you’ll get great service at a reasonable price.
This Friday, May 7th, Book tickets NOW for August, because the incredible Immersible Van Gogh Exhibit www.vangoghchicago.com/, has been extended, and it’s so phenomenal that most days are sold out of limited availability until then. Our tickets are for Thursday, August 19th, and we hope you can join us. Yes, we’ve been here before, and it’s still so amazing that another trip is absolutely in order. Here we’ll find ourselves inside the imagination of the artistically pioneering painter as he “dreams my paintings and then paints my dreams”. If you’re an early riser and want to experience this in a completely different way, you can book tickets for “Gogh with Yoga” classes, where folks of all fitness levels are welcome to enjoy a 35 minute yoga class, led by CorePower Yoga instructors. It all happens “within the multi-sensory and all-encompassing Immersive Van Gogh experience”, and is choreographed in harmony with the immersive experience. After the class, we can even stay and experience the art around us again one more time.
Mother’s Day, Sunday. May 9th, has been officially celebrated in the US since 1914, when the efforts of Anna Jarvis achieved national recognition, but its roots go back to 1850, when Ann Jarvis, Anna’s mother, began encouraging and celebrating “Mother’s Work Day” to teach mothers how to improve their cooking and cleaning to help prevent disease. This work was remarkable for its time when so little was known about germs, hygiene, or vaccines.
After the Civil War, Anna Jarvis and others, notably Julia Ward Howe, worked to recognize the role of women in nurturing peace and reducing violent conflicts. Howe published her famous “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling for an international conference where women of every nation would meet to discuss how “to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”
Since then, the perceptions of Mother’s Day have changed again; we now recognize this as a day for families to honor and value their own mother, which is why it’s spelled in the singular, not the plural, possessive. So this Mother’s Day, take especially good care of your mother. Split the usual chores up between family members and get the place clean and shining. If there are six or fewer people in your family, take mom out for a great dinner. For instance, reserve a table at that fabulous Ukrainian restaurant, Trysub, 2201 W Chicago Ave, https://tryzubchicago.com/, and enjoy wonderful and satisfying food served up by a friendly, competent staff. You’ll be glad and so will mom.
You’ll remember, of course, that last month we made reservations for today, Saturday, May 15th, at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S Lake Shore Drive, www.msichicago.org/, to visit the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, where we will get wrapped up in two full galleries of artifacts and experiences to explore. Look! That is the first Marvel comic book ever published, back in 1939. Here, see these other covers? There, that artwork is amazing. My favorites, you ask? Hmm, well, as a kid it was The Amazing Spiderman, with his super strength and abilities, just beneath the skin of a nerdy teenager. More recently, I must admit, it’s been Iron Man, and look – there is the actual set from Tony Stark’s lab, right next to the mirror dimension of Doctor Strange. This is too cool, Face it, we’re as excited as the kids, and sure, I’ll take photos of you with Black Panther and Ms. Marvel.
That’s enough excitement for today, we’re thinking. It’s time to head home and get ready for tomorrow. Don’t forget, we start early.
Today, Sunday, May 16th, Bring your bikes, pack some snacks, water and lunch into your backpacks, and join us in the morning at 1 N Park Rd, Joliet, Illinois, where we’ll get our little expedition together and ride the Old Plank Road Trail, a 22 mile long bike ride created from an abandoned railroad bed that was originally intended to be a road of wooded planks for people on horseback or in carriages. That road was never built, but the name stuck, and today we’ll pedal easily along the flat prairie route, taking in the sunshine, the fresh air and the natural prairie habitat. We’ll see some of the native tall grasses and other vegetation that so impressed the first white settlers that passed through here over 170 years ago.
There are places to stop, take a few photos and rest, with plaques and markers describing bits of local history. Maybe we can learn something of the travels of Marquette, Joliet and LaSalle, the first Europeans to explore this part of the world.
Let’s enjoy the entire day, shall we? The round trip, 44 miles, may sound like a long distance, but the trail is flat and the riding easy, isn’t it? After we stop here, at the turn around in Chicago Heights, we’ll eat a leisurely lunch, relax just long enough to feel better, and take an equally easy ride back to Joliet. Wasn’t that fun? Drive home safely, please.
Today, Friday, May 21st, is National Bike to Work Day. Aren’t you glad that you had your bike tuned up? We’ve already laid out safe travel routes, taking streets with well-marked bike lanes. Many are protected from auto traffic by small curbs and taller separators. It’s easy. It’s fun actually. See? I told you that you could do it. Try it again, soon.
So as long as it’s still National Bike Month, let’s take time today, Saturday, May 22nd, for another, much shorter ride, shall we, along the North Channel Trail and Sculpture Park? Meet us in the morning, about 9am, in the parking lot on McCormick Blvd., just north of Touhy Ave. in Skokie. We’ll bike past over forty different sculptural presentations in a stretch of smoothly paved trail that extends just a few miles along the North Channel of the Chicago River. Some of these are very interesting, don’t you think? The “Dance of the Scorpion” is particularly whimsical, I’m thinking. It’s intriguing how the different artists use their materials and methods to bring out concepts and ideas that get us thinking about the piece and the symbolism and meaning it conveys.
The trail continues up into Evanston, past the Ladd Aboretum, where we can learn a bit more about the varieties of trees and flowering plants that are native to this area. Isn’t this refreshing? On the ride back we’ll take the other side of those loops and get a better look at the sculptures we missed on the way up. Thank you so much for joining us, we trust you’ve had fun as well.
While we are still under a variety of Covid related restrictions, today, Saturday, May 29th, is perfect timing for the first family gathering and cookout of the year. We’ll all get together, as best as we can, at a grove in the Forest Preserve. to smile and laugh, share family stories, maybe play some softball, Chicago-style, with no gloves and those huge 16” Clincher softballs. Oh yeah, this is almost as it should be.
While the Memorial Day holiday is a solemn occasion for honoring those who have died fighting America’s wars, let’s take today, Sunday, May 30th, as a day to honor those who have died during other struggles in this country. On this day in 1937 Chicago Police Officers shot and killed unarmed, peaceful demonstrators who were striking Republic Steel for a union contract. Catholic author and activist, Dorothy Day, was present that day and wrote, “On Memorial Day, May 30, 1937, police opened fire on a parade of striking steel workers and their families at the gate of the Republic Steel Company, in South Chicago. Fifty people were shot, of whom 10 later died; 100 others were beaten with clubs.’ Among America’s many other tragedies, The Memorial Day Massacre is one we should not forget.
Today, Monday, May 31st, is Memorial Day, a day set aside to respect and honor those who have fallen in service to this country. As we gather together with our families, let’s please take the time to do just that, perhaps several times: when everyone first arrives, before meals, and certainly a toast or two to those who have given so much so that we can gather together in peace and freedom. We encourage you to do something in your family’s tradition, keeping alive the memories of our ancestors, enjoying each other’s company, engaging in the usual lively debates, and arguing who will win the Indy 500. You know, the usual stuff. The back to normal stuff after all this time.
Friends and readers, the month is over, summer is upon us, and the future looks so much brighter this year than last. We’ll connect again next month.