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Apples and Pumpkins and Colorful Trees

October 2019

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Well, dear readers, it seems we can ignore Autumn no longer.  The days are so much shorter, the weather cooler, and the trees are taking on their bright colors.  Oh boy, it’s the perfect time for more adventures, so let’s go pick apples.  Meet us, please, this Sunday, October 6th, at All Seasons Orchard, 14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock, IL.

You brought the kids, right?  They are having a ball here, enticed by the farm barnyard area with such wonders as a magic show, mini zip line (How cool is that?), a spider web big enough for them to crawl all over, pumpkin bowling (Look at that!  It’s as crazy and silly as it sounds.) and so much more.

Now it’s our turn. Crisp, sweet Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious apples are just getting ripe, begging us to pluck them off and take them home. The picking bags hold about a gallon, just enough for us, the family, and a few for friends.  Finished picking already?

Aren’t you getting hungry? All Seasons isn’t just an orchard, it’s also a bakery and a restaurant; a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and a bowl of chili will do it for me today, how about you?  Soup and a Mediterranean wrap sounds and smells so appealing. Have you saved room for dessert? Apple pie, and they even make ice cream sundaes with apple cider donuts? OK, this is too good.  That sundae, and a cup of coffee, just really topped me off.  Let’s sit a while and chat, as we so often do, while deciding how many of those apple donuts to take home with our bags of apples.  Whew, that was fun!

This Wednesday, October 9th, is Leif Erikson Day, so let’s meet, shall we, after work, and hoist a glass of Viking meade (fermented honey, usually flavored with fruit) and celebrate the brave folks who first brought knowledge of Greenland and North America to Europe, nearly 400 years before Columbus.  Wildblossom Meadery and Winery, 9030 S Hermitage,  Chicago, is the only meadery in northern Illinois, where we can taste variations of the oldest fermented, alcoholic drink ever made.  Archaeological evidence suggests our ancestors collected wild honey and fermented it to make this drink.  I’ll have a glass of “Pirates Blood”  made with hot chili peppers, YES!  For you? Perhaps a very traditional “Prairie Passion”?   Let’s grab this table, lift our glasses and, in true Viking tradition, cheer “Skoal!”

We’ll not meet on Friday, this week; we need to get up very early on Saturday October 12th, for the drive to Michigan for ColorburstThe Rapid Wheelmen, a wonderful bicycle club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is hosting their annual fall bike event.  This is truly a hidden gem among club rides within an easy drive from Chicago.  As the name suggests we’ll ride through miles of mostly wooded roads, with the surrounding trees and bushes in full Autumnal glory.  You’ll see – this is beautiful and fun.  We can ride at whatever pace we like, along any one of the many route choices, from an easy 17 mile road ride, to 32 or 65 mile gravel road routes.

We’re in time for the pancake breakfast, yippee! Let’s have some coffee, juice, and pancakes to fuel us up; it’s all so delicious.  Riding along, the woods are quiet and beautiful, the other riders are friendly and interesting, aren’t they?  Do you need a break?  The first rest stop is just a couple more miles, well stocked with fruit, water, baked goods, and other goodies.

We’re heading back already, hungry again despite all the food.  Guess what?  There is a wide selection of gourmet soups from local restaurants waiting for us back at the lodge where a fire is blazing in the big stone fireplace. This is all at Fallasburg State Park, Lowell, MI, https://rapidwheelmen.com/rides/colorburst/

Surprisingly, today, Monday October 14th, is a day for celebrating.  It’s the Feast of Intercession, Veil of Our Lady.  According to the Primary Chronicle of St. Nestor the Chronicler, the inhabitants of Constantinople prayed for the Mother of God to intercede to protect them from attack by Rus’ invaders (Rus’ was still pagan at the time) and the Rus’ fleet was destroyed. It is also Defenders Day, set aside to honor Ukraine’s past and present military heroes in their struggles for Ukrainian freedom, distinctly separate from the old Soviet holiday of similar purpose.  It is certainly a day for thoughts, prayers and whatever small actions we here can take to help secure a safe future for Ukraine. http://euromaidanpress.com 

For Americans, it’s Columbus Day when we celebrate the successful landing of three wooden ships at Hispaniola, bringing lasting knowledge of the Americas to the rest of the world.  Despite some recent writings that denigrate Christopher Columbus’s character and discoveries, the facts remain true: this brave navigator deduced that one could successfully sail west from Europe, make landfall, and return safely due to two distinct wind patterns across the Atlantic. He came to what became known as the West Indies four times, founded the first permanent European settlement in the Western Hemisphere, and charted trans-Atlantic routes that are still in use today.

This year will mark the 66th annual Columbus Day Parade. The Parade has bands, floats and marchers; everyone is invited to join in, starting with a 9am mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, 1224 W. Lexington Street, then a wreath laying ceremony in Arrigo Park at the Columbus statue, followed by the parade at 12:30pm. I know it’s hard to get time on a Monday, but if you can make it for lunch, we can meet at State and Lake Streets to hear the speeches and watch the start of this traditional parade.  I hope you can join me.

Tonight, Friday October 18th, let’s meet at the DANK Haus, 4740 North Western Avenue, for a final celebration of OKTOBERFEST. Our German friends know how to party and who are we not to join the fun of this amazing German celebration? It’s in the Marunde Ballroom, where we’ll watch a Trachten contest, a stein holding contest, hear music by Paloma Band, and join in the dancing, singing, beer, brats and so much more. So much fun to be had by all, especially us. 7:30pm will be perfect. A $5 door donation is requested. https://dankhaus.com/event-3066323

This Saturday, October 19th, is SWEETEST DAY.  Let’s double date, and make a full day of it, shall we?  Making a full day of Sweetest Day has to be different and interesting, yet finish on a strong romantic note. Are we in agreement, gentlemen?  So let’s talk our beautiful “significant others” into wearing something nicer than jeans and t-shirts, along with comfortable walking shoes, while we take them on a walking tour of Oak Park, and stroll through a number of the area’s great, interesting buildings and museums. These places are a few of the historically and architecturally significant buildings in Chicago Open House; their website has tons of info about the entire project at https://openhousechicago.org.

We will meet you love-birds for breakfast, some place special. How about the warm and welcoming, Olde North Pancake House, at 27W751 North Avenue, in West Chicago? It doesn’t even matter if the weather is bad, the big fireplace blazes wonderfully, spreading warmth and cheer when the outside world is gloomy. How about 9:00am? The caramel roasted coffee is legendary and yes I’ll have a cup, thank you. Swedish crepes, potato pancakes, Belgian waffles and much more to choose from, whew! I’m having the Eggs Benedict Florentine, I just decided.  How about you?  The Pecan Belgian Waffle sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Just right for an early start to a great day.

Next we’ll head to Oak Park and start this adventure with a quick walk to the Oak Park Art League, 720 W. Chicago, a colorful former carriage house, with its gallery and exhibitions. Then to Unity Church, 405 N. Euclid, built in 1912 in the Prairie Style. Originally a private home, it’s now a center for spiritual living, offering Sunday services, educational programs, prayer and healing services.

At 220. N. Euclid we’ll find Cheney Mansion, a Park District landmark; today it’s open to all; we’ll stroll the 12,000 sq. ft. mansion and lush gardens of the 2.2 acre plot.  Look at the woodwork, that dramatic fireplace, and the unique, fabulous way the walls and even the ceilings have been built.

Next up is St. Edmund Roman Catholic Church. 188 S. Oak Park Ave. Gaze at those stained glass windows, the columns and arches, glowing with gold leaf.  This place has a majestic beauty that brings you into a serene, respectful, contemplative frame of mind, doesn’t it?   It truly feels sacred.

The last stop, aptly named Pleasant Home, 217 Home Ave. was built in 1897. Today, it’s known as Mills Park; a home museum for us to explore. The mansion’s interior features a breathtaking main foyer, stunning art glass windows, and intricately-carved wood details tied together by the architect George Maher’s signature motifs; the building itself is an exquisite, early example of Prairie Style construction.

WOW, what a day it’s been.  We skipped lunch, didn’t we? Time for that romantic finish, yes? I’ve made reservations at La Notte, 118 N Marion Street, (708) 948-7576, https://www.lanotte-op.com/, an award-winning Italian place with excellent service, perfect lighting, and truly great meals. Everything is cooked to order, so let’s share some Bruschetta and Calamari before dinner.  For me? Rigatoni Filo di Fumo, pasta with onions, smoked pancetta, fresh mozzarella.  If you like veal, trust me, try the Saltimbocca, in a white wine marinara sauce, with sage, prosciutto, mozzarella, over angel hair pasta. Wasn’t this a wonderful day? 

Oktoberfest Munich

Today, Friday, October 25th, it’s time for adult Halloween fun. The Haunted Booze Cruise sounds like just the thing; the Anita Dee II, at DuSable Harbor, 200 N. Breakwater Access, Chicago, departs at 8:30pm. We’ll see Chicago’s fabulous skyline from the best view, enter the costume party, dance to the on-board music provided by a live DJ, and have a drink at the after-party.  Your ghoul costume is so good you even scared me. HA!  Hasn’t this been fun?

Today, Thursday, October 31st, is Halloween, so take your kids to a neighborhood scary, spooky, costume-fun event and smile through it all.  Tomorrow it’s November, so until next month, dear friends and readers, keep the adventures in your heart every day.