Thursday, October 12, 2006

October winter

Here's something I don't think I've ever seen: snow accumulation on green leaves in mid-October. After the 70 degree weather of four days ago, today's high seems to have been 39. The snow pictured here was surprisingly dense and built up 1/4" on grass and leaves. Within a few hours, the sun came out and the snow melted. Strange weather.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Botanic gardens

After taking Dad back to the airport (thanks for the visit, Dad!) we decided to take advantage of our proximity to the Chicago Botanic Garden to visit it for the first time. Nicole describes it as something of a Disneyland of plants, in the sense that it has little regions with different themes in them--a Japanese Garden, an English Walled Garden, a Fruit & Vegetable Garden, etc. As you can see, there are some beautiful fall colors beginning to appear, and so the park was very busy. (The cloudless skies and temperatures around 70 also contributed drawing in the crowd.) The garden sits on 385 acres and claims to have more than two million plants. I'm quite sure this number doesn't include the blades of grass. At any rate, we enjoyed our visit and I suspect we'll be going back there with some regularity as the seasons change. Chicago's such a big city, though, and it takes us about an hour to get there...the same time that it takes us to reach the Indiana Dunes I wrote about below. Each places has its merits. Here are few more of those found at the Garden:

Dad's visit, Indiana dunes

Dad visited from Florida this weekend, and we traveled to the Indiana Dunes. It's a national park along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, where the winds deposit much of the sand that the lake generates. Northeast Indiana is quite of an industrial mess (quite a bit of out-of-sight power generation for Chicago, I think), and in parts of the park you can see the industrial and nuclear plants. But in the middle of the woods, you'd never know it. At any rate, we went to "Mt. Baldy," the 125-foot tall shifting sand dune at the edge of the park. Experience suggests that as you try to climb it, you sink back about 90% of every step, meaning that climbing it feels like ascending something ten times the height. At the summit, there are some reeds attached that the wind blows around to etch out a circle in the sand (seen at the top). Closer to the shore, I found a bottle in the sand that turned into a little photography project.