“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream” –Heraclitus as quoted by Plato in Cratylus
Illinois is nicknamed the Prairie State for a reason; two hundred years ago when Europeans first encountered the Chicago area it was rampant with vast seas of grasses. Today only 10% of the state’s land remains as dedicated prairie. Bicycling in the Chicago area is easy; the steepest hill one ever encounters is an expressway’s overhead bypass. All other pathways are basically flat. Those people born and raised in Chicago and nearby farmlands may not appreciate the uniqueness of this terrain. Walking through natural areas can have its challenges in spite of this horizontal layout. The winter scenes in this post show examples of the ever changing woodland savannah in Chicago, in particular the paths made in the forest floor as fallen rain or snow carve pathways on their way to the Chicago River.
What may have been solid, flat land a month prior may surprise the walker or biker as they discover newly formed, water logged gullies in the earth. This is especially true during sustained wet periods as Chicago has endured during this mild winter. Trees that began growing on solid ground may find themselves with roots exposed and unsupported footing. The forest savannah floor constantly changes.
It is true, you cannot step twice into the same stream; because the stream and its path is ever changing, never the same.
“The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the Summer sun. Barriers may be built across its path, but they bring only power, as the conquering of an obstacle is always sure to do. Sometimes when the rocks and stone-clad hills loom large ahead, and eternity itself would be needed to carve a passage, there is an easy way around. The discovery of it makes the river sing with gladness and turns the murmurous deeps to living water, bright with ripples and foam.”
― Myrtle Reed, Old Rose and Silver