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WE’RE BAA-ACK! Chicago Re-opens for Summer

 
June 1. 2021 - July 1, 2021
 
Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Hello again, friends and fellow adventurers! Chicago, and much of America, is reopening and we couldn’t be happier! Hurray! It really is time for more ADVENTURE.

Before we step out into the ever brighter sunshine, let’s take a few moments to reflect  onwhat we’ve been through, and maybe think about how to best handle severe adversity in the future.  Did you know that the CDC actually has a guide on how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse? How did I not know this before COVID-19? Mea culpa, but it’s all right here, so the next time a national panic erupts, we’ll be ready: https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse/.

Now, before we actually do anything, please read ahead, go online, and register for these events. Most still have capacity restrictions, and many are filling up rapidly, so please register now. Book youir rooms for the road trip!  Finally, while things are so much better now, let’s not forget to bring masks wherever we go.

First of all, let’s go shopping. Farmer’s Markets all over the area have been opening up, local farmers and small producers are displaying their wares, and we can pick up some genuinely fresh food for dinner this weekend.  This morning, Saturday, June 5th, let’s make our way to the Park Ridge Farmer’s Market, 15 Prairie Ave., https://www.parkridgefarmersmarket.com/, and stock up on freshly harvested greens and vegetables, eggs cheese and more to get us through the week in style. This market is easy to find with plenty of parking, and has several dozen vendors displaying their goods ranging from leafy greens to home-made sauces and jams. We found Nal’s Kitchen here a while back, and her salad dressings are so tasty and flavorful that you need put only a small spoonful on your salad to be delighted.  There are bakers, with their oven-fresh goods smelling so delicious that you can’t (at least I can’t) pass by without getting something (usually 2 things). A cup of fresh coffee, right over here, goes a long way on a Saturday morning, doesn’t it?  Pick out your fruit, some colorful vegetables, perhaps a few other things and we’re all set.

Today, Sunday, June 6th, is the 77th anniversary of D-Day, when in 1944, 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops crossed the English Channel to confront the Third Reich and begin the final march to Berlin. So  today, let us take a few moments from our busy, happy lives to reflect upon our freedoms and the sacrifices made to secure them.

Once again, my friends, we are out in our beautiful city.  Today, Saturday, June 12th, marks the return of the Old Town Art Fair, https://www.oldtownartfair.org/, where about 250 artists in every medium will display and demonstrate their latest creative efforts. In this fair the artists submit a piece or two to be judged in the various categories, and the awards are nationally acclaimed, so we are in for a day’s worth of visual treats. Aural treats, too: “A little Jazz, a little Swing, some Folk, Fusion and Blues. Just the right backdrop for enjoying a bite and a beverage or two, strolling the Fair and hanging out with friends.” Exactly.

The fair covers a lot of ground, so let’s meet early, at the northwest gate, at Wisconsin Ave., and Sedgwick Ave., when the gates open at 10:00am. We’ll get a few things to eat while we walk, and take the whole day to experience all these beautiful paintings, digital displays, ceramics of every sort, even types of art we’ve never thought possible.  Yes, I know it’s getting late, but the fun isn’t over. Let’s each grab a favorite beer, share a Bacci’s pizza, and sit down to hear Voodoo Zydeco. Cajun rhythms are so fascinating, upbeat, and at times almost hypnotic.

 

This morning, Sunday, June 13th, we’re meeting some South Side friends at the 95th Street Farmer’s Market, 1835 W. 95th St., http://95thstreetba.org/farmers-market/, in the Beverly Hills neighborhood.  Will you join us? The market opens promptly at 8:00am every Sunday from May into November, and here we’ll find fresh and exciting presentations from area small farms, home baked breads and sweets, honey from bee keepers, and food prepared just for us, right on site. We’re bringing a couple of the nieces to show our younger family members what the fuss is about.  Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time to peruse the tables, select our veggies for the week, check out the live music, and the kids can even get their faces painted. Isn’t this fun? Look at those deep green leaves. Can you smell that purple basil, isn’t it wonderful? And this food is to live for!

See? All of Chicago’s neighborhoods have something to offer. No wonder we’re always so busy.

Let’s drive up together this Friday, June 18th, to visit “America’s National Park of Speed!”, Road America. This fabulous racing venue is set deep in the forest between Plymouth and Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, only 150 miles due north of Chicago. This is Indy Car weekend, where those insanely fast, open wheel vehicles will tear around the track at speeds that will exceed 200 miles per hour. Whew! The program for Saturday and Sunday, June 19th and 20th, will include races from three different levels of Indy car competitions, and will be exciting indeed. https://www.roadamerica.com/events. As a bonus, today, Sunday, June 20th, marks the Summer Solstice, the first day of SUMMER!

The International Music Foundation is once again presenting their Rush Hour Concerts, https://imfchicago.org/programs/, so today, Tuesday, June 22rd,  let’s avoid the traffic rush and walk calmly into St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St., about 5:15pm to get ourselves situated for tonight’s musical glory, shall we? Five accomplished musicians, Eleanor Kirk, harp, Paul Hauer and Eleanor Bartsch, violins, Amy Hess, viola and Nomin Zolzaya, cello, will perform works by DeBussy, Tchaikovsky and Adu-Gilmore. Expect to be enthralled. Words just can’t do justice to music, can they?

This morning, Saturday, June 26th, we can sleep in a bit, and meet in Chinatown for brunch, and be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Triple Crown, 2217 S. Wentworth Ave., https://www.triplecrownchicago.com/, is always an excellent choice for authentic Chinese treats, commendable service, and a modest bill when finished. Take your time, of course. There is so much to choose from. How about an appetizer of Pot Stickers with a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup to start? Very good, isn’t it? For the meal, that Sizzling Kung Pao Trio is catching my eye. For you? Beef with Hundred Flavor Sauce, you say? Excellent decision.

This is always fun, dining out, catching up with friends, enjoying company, but no, let’s not stay for dessert.  It’s time to start our long walk.  You never think of this part of town, with small residential areas hemmed in with worn-out industrial buildings, as harboring a big natural preserve, but that’s where we’re heading.  Henry Palmisano Park, just a few blocks away at 2850 S. Halsted St., contains a 26.5 acre nature preserve, complete with trails, wetlands, and prairie. The wetlands are a unique tiered shape, and feed into a basin left over from when this was a rock quarry, many years ago. Listen to the quiet sounds of the water flowing as it makes it’s way to the basin. Relaxing, isn’t it? It’s just grand to be in this wild area, completely surrounded by the city, where the noise drops off, human sounds diminish, and we can just listen, quietly, to nature. The air is a bit fresher here too. We’ll just keep walking, looking and listening while we take the trails around the nature area, out towards the basin and around again.

There is one more place to visit before we head home. It’s time to stop in at Chiu Quon, 2253 S Wentworth Ave., http://www.cqbakery.com/, the oldest bakery in Chinatown. These dedicated bakers have been in business for over 35 years, for good reason. Look at everything they offer: Portuguese style Egg Tarts, Curry Beef Buns, Lotus Paste Cake, Peanut or Sesame Cookies, even Honey Noodles, which I just have to try. Of course I’ll share.  What are you having? Oh, that Pineapple Sweet Top Bun does look good. Thank you, yes, I’ll have a taste. No one could resist a few extras to take home, it seems, so it must be time to say good bye!

June is almost over, so let’s send it out with a bang! Today, Wednesday, June 30th, is International Asteroid Day! https://asteroidday.org/, commemorating the Earth’s largest recorded asteroid impact while focusing on the real danger of asteroids that could collide with Earth. In 1908, a powerful asteroid struck in a remote Siberian forest. The event leveled trees and destroyed forests across 770 square miles, which is six times the size of Chicago. In light of this and other asteroid strikes and explosions, NASA and other agencies are trying to devise a planetary defense strategy.  So let’s take today to educate ourselves about asteroids, meteors and meteorites, their incredible stories, and the opportunities as well as the threats they pose.

Thursday, July 1st, is Canada Day, the Canadian celebration of independence from Great Britain. Canada Day celebrates Canada’s independence from Britain on July 1, 1867. Prior to 1867, Canada was a British North American Colony composed of present-day Ontario and Quebec. On July 1st, 1867, the new Dominion of Canada became a self-governing body within the British realm.

Almost a century before that day the Colonial Congress, representing the thirteen British colonies south of what’s now Canada, declared their independence from Great Britain, unanimously signing the document we all know as the Declaration of Independence.  After the gathered men affixed their names to the parchment, Benjamin Franklin famously remarked, “ Now, gentlemen, we must all hang together, or surely we will all hang, separately.

So today, Sunday, July 4th, let’s all gather with our families and closest friends, lift a glass to toast the Founding Fathers, and the courage of the colonial soldiers and militiamen who fought the Redcoats. Let’s also remember the contributions of men such as Friedrich Von Steuben, who brought much needed discipline and training to the troops, and Marquis de Lafayette, whose navy secured the final victory at Williamsburg. A toast then, to America, our French and (now) German allies, and to another poignant observation attributed to Ben Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Until next month, readers and friends, let us be happy indeed.

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