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Love in the Time of Covid. February Adventures

 
February 1, 2021 - February 28, 2021
 
Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Nevertheless, everything is still closed. We can’t get into bars or restaurants. Movie houses are closed and in danger of bankruptcy. We are still being rather forcefully encouraged to work from home and those few events we can attend are mostly outdoor and require masks and distancing. Perfect.  Nothing will stop our adventures! We will press on, regardless!

Besides it’s February, the skies are a little brighter, days are a little longer, and it’s time to get out once again. I don’t care what the groundhog saw, shadow or no, we’re going skiing.  On top of that, Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, so gentlemen, put on your thinking caps and plan ahead.

Let’s start this afternoon, Saturday, February 6th, by heading into the wilds of our local forest preserves. We’ll start at LaBagh Woods, 5275 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, and hike the gravel pathway that’s not yet an official trail.  This rails-to-trails segment has had the tracks removed, so it’s wide, clear  and not as busily traveled as the North Branch Trail to which it connects. If the snow is deep, we’ll bring snowshoes and keep our eyes open looking for animal tracks, rabbits, perhaps even a fox. I’ve seen hawks and owls in these woods, so maybe we’ll get lucky and see them this time. It’s good to get out in the fresh air, isn’t it, and even though we’re keeping our distance, it’s good to be with friends again. Breathe deeply, and let’s keep moving. We’ll walk a mile or so before we turn back, then we can take a turn on the paths that lead along the river bank. That’s a bit more up and down, slower going, and please be careful of all those tree roots.

Afterwards, we have a surprise for you. Pizza! Yes, we called ahead to Marie’s, 4129 W. Lawrence Ave., https://mariespizzachicago.com/Welcome.html, one of our favorite places, and the order should be just about ready to pick up. We’ll have to “tailgate party” again, as they don’t have a patio area, but who cares? It’s just what we needed. It’s been great to see you, drive home safely.

Today, Wednesday, February 10th, there is a special treat waiting for us (virtually) at the Field Museum, https://www.fieldmuseum.org/our-events/. Sue, everyone’s favorite Tyrannosaurus Rex, has been missing while the museum undergoes an exhibit overhaul, but now she’s back! In this Zoom presentation, a museum docent will guide us through Sue’s life in the Cretaceous, using a 3D model that was scanned directly from the fossilized skeleton. We’ll learn key features and little-known facts about Sue and her kin, including what the latest scientific research has revealed: how scientists know the skeleton was a female, T. Rex mating habits, “favorite treats” (which is a polite way of saying “animals they caught and ate”), and more.

Sign up early, and submit your questions (I know I have some!) With luck our docent will answer them during the tour. Is that cool or what? Best of all, the tour is appropriate for all ages, so have the kids join the fun, after all, everybody loves dinosaurs. This online event is free with a suggested $10 donation, and in these times let’s support our world class museums generously.

Today, Friday February 12th, marks the beginning of Chinese New Year celebrations around the globe. This year is known as the Year of the Ox. Oxen are the hard workers in the background, intelligent and reliable, but never demanding praise. If your child is born this year, or if you were born in 1961, for example, your element is ‘Metal’ and while you may have struggled early on, you will persevere to enjoy a happy retirement.

After we all explore that, here:  https://chinesenewyear.net/zodiac/ox/, please give us a video call while we enjoy, separately, but as together as we can, a delicious meal from our favorite local Chinese restaurant. The award-winning meals from Lao Tse Chuan are always a welcome sight, but you might prefer something from Cheng Du Impression, 2545 North Halsted Street, https://www.chengduimpression.com/, where, I’m told, the spicy noodle dish, Suan La Fen, is exquisite, brimming with authentic flavors and Szechuan spice.

Gentlemen, I strongly suggested that you put some imagination into romancing your sweetheart this month. Here we are, Saturday, February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day, and I have the very best suggestion for you. Tonight, after work, impress her mightily by, just by coincidence, meeting us at Lighthouse Artspace Chicago for the American Premier of Immersive Van Gogh, https://www.vangoghchicago.com/, an experience you’ll talk about for years: “Experience art like never before – lose yourself in 500,000 cubic feet of flawless projections animating Vincent van Gogh’s oeuvre. Wander through entrancing, moving images that highlight brushstrokes, detail, and color – truly illuminating the mind of the genius.

You will be immersed in Van Gogh’s works – from his sunny landscapes and night scenes to his portraits and still life paintings. The installation includes The Potato Eaters, 1885, Starry Night, 1889, Sunflowers, 1888, and The Bedroom, 1889, and so much more. The exhibition is custom-designed to Chicago’s Germania Club – transforming the neoclassical into the magical. Astonishing in scale and breathtakingly imaginative, you will experience Van Gogh’s art in a completely new and unforgettable way.”

You’ll tell your kids about it. The vast interior of Chicago’s historic and architecturally significant Germania Club, 108 W. Germania Pl, has been opened and designed specifically for immersive art expositions such as this one. With over 500,000 cubic feet of projections, millions upon millions of pixels, and many thousands of video frames, we’ll experience Van Gogh’s many startling works in a new, impressive and stimulating way. Words will not do justice. Go to the website and see the photos and video clip, then you’ll begin to understand. We have to go.

It’s here! Let the love shine into your lives everyday, and today, Sunday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is the traditional day to truly express the romance, the love and the joy that our loved ones bring into the gift of this life we share. We’re staying in, preparing in advance, and relaxing throughout the day. In the morning, for example, we’ll take a virtual tour of the Eiffel Tower, complete with breath-taking views of Paris, the City of Light, https://www.toureiffel.paris/en/news/recreation/virtual-tour-eiffel-tower. Then, after a light brunch, highlighted by the smoked trout from Kurowski’s Sausage Shop, 2976 N. Milwaukee Ave., served with fresh crusty bread followed by delightful cheese sticks, (both from House of Cakes, 6189 N. Canfield Ave.), we’ll indulge in another tour, this time at the beautiful, geographically spectacular, Crater Lake National Parkhttps://www.nationalparks.org/connect,   I’m surprising her with thoughtful touches; rose petals strewn around the lavender scented bubble bath, complete with a few candles in the corners. Flowers, of course, and I’ll do most of the cooking for a delightful, flavorful and satisfying beef bourguignon, with fresh, roasted vegetables and potatoes and more seriously crusty bread, served with a good Malbec wine, served at an impeccably set table, with the TV turned into a virtual fireplace and Chopin’s Impromptus and Nocturns playing softly throughout. After that, hmm, perhaps a tour of Lighthouse Artspace Chicago for the American Premier of Immersive Van Gogh? We’ll find that here: https://www.visittuscany.com/en/ideas/a-virtual-tour-in-tuscany/. Or maybe some  heartbreaking-yet-uplifting romantic movie with a beautiful story, wonderful acting, fascinating and insightful dialog, a genuine “electricity” between the lead actors, and an ultimately happy ending. What might you suggest? Enjoy your evening!

We all know that today, Monday, February 15th, is President’s Day, an appropriate time for a gangster movie binge, wouldn’t you say? We’ve already got things queued up for the whole week, starting with the great classic, The Public Enemy arguably James Cagney’s finest gangster role.  Then we’ll move to Sean Connery and Kevin Costner in The Untouchables, Edward G. Robinson’s classic Little Caesar,  and of course, the greatest gangster movies of all time, The Godfather and it’s sequel, Godfather II. These are our favorites, what are yours?

This weekend, February 19th, 20th and 21st, we are finally going skiing. Look out, Cascade Mountain, here we come! Let’s leave Friday as quickly as we can sign out of our work-from-home workstations, and head up north.  The snow, last time I checked, is almost 30 inches deep, and the resort is mostly open, about half the lifts and most of the runs are ready for our high-speed plummets downhill. Food and beverages are available, with seating properly distanced, so we can comfortably relax and take nourishment after our strenuous day on the slopes.  We’ll be staying nearby, at a hotel that offers complimentary lift tickets as part of their winter packages. Wonderful, yes? I love skiing, downhill and cross-country, and don’t you enjoy the powder flying up and the sensations when you’re carving back and forth across the slope? This is fabulous!

What? It’s Sunday already? Well, what do you say to using up our tickets early, enjoying lunch on the mountain, and then taking our time on the long drive home? No need to speed. Just be careful and we’ll meet again next week.

Hey friends, let’s finish our month of adventuring today, Saturday, February 27th, outdoors yet again. Willowbrook Forest Preserve, 525 S Park Blvd, Glen Ellyn, is having a two hour adventure of Wildlife Tracking and Observation. Order in advance, here: https://apm.activecommunities.com/fpddc/Activity_Search, and look for this event. It’s actually easier in winter (if there is snow on the ground) to learn to identify the tracks and other evidence that our wild friends leave as they search for food and shelter in their daily lives. Meet us at the Information Kiosk about 1:45pm (the tour starts at 2pm), with masks, water and a magnifying glass. (We’re also bringing along our binoculars.) This will be fun in that quiet-in-the-forest sort of way.

Well dear friends and wonderful readers, we have just made it through another month of fabulous adventures. Despite lockdowns and restrictions we have let fun, light, art, and lots of fresh air into our lives yet again. So until next month, keep adventuring!

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