Winter play…

Millennium Park is a favorite destination in Chicago’s winter months. Ice skating is the main activity accompanied by good eating. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

View is from Cindy’s restaurant. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

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Lighting the way…

The morning light snuck into this narrow passageway between apartment buildings; a common element in Chicago’s residential areas. Usually one goes down a few steps to get from one place to another and finishes by walking up a few more steps. When walking past such entraces it’s important to pay attention so you don’t accidently mis-step into one of these stairways. My eyes caught the colors and textures in this small scene including the moss on the bricks adding a contrast to the neutral tones. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

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City sightings…

Sneaking a look out of a retail window showed a dumpster that seemed to me to be filled with some worthwhile stuffs. Too bad it wasn’t accessible and that I downsized my life a few years ago. Can’t help but believe someone would have appreciated the chance to salvage the remnants. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Not uncommon site in a busy, congested, urban area; this is Chicago. Streets are equally abundant with bicycle traffic. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

And if you don’t own a bicycle, you can rent a Divy bike to do your errands or sightsee. They are everywhere! Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Ah, a classic in-the-loop scene with an “El” (elevated” train above and traffic congestion below. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Of course, a city is incomplete without the pigeon! Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Chicago is rich, or ripe, with politicians and their boastings. I did not expect to see a 2020 presidential loud-speaker float riding down the street for you-know-who. It was not a parade day at all. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

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Urban sunshine…

Close up image of backlit Sunflower towards end of it’s lifecyle. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Aging Sunflower backlit by sun in the Roscoe Community Garden in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

Roscoe Community Garden is adjacent to Belmont Harbor in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Hooray for the Chicago Park District to open space to community members who seem their own home-grown produce. Copyright 2018 Pamela Breitberg

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Glimpses of city life ….

 

Montrose Harbor’s Dog Beach; enjoyed by people too! Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Morning walk through Lincoln Park. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Traffic in front of Chicago Art Institute included Chicago Police on bicycles. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

Appropriate dress for Chicago shopping? Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

All styles fit city life. Practically is always the best option. Copyright 2017 Pamela Breitberg

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Urban city walking path…

Canadian Geese along Lake Michigan edge with downtown Chicago in background. Copyright 2016 Pamela Breitberg

Asters line the wall along the pathway in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Copyright 2016 Pamela Breitberg

Five miles from downtown Chicago. Copyright 2016 Pamela Breitberg

Walking and bicycling through Lincoln Park in Chicago is primarily done on the paved (official) pathway that meanders down the west side of the park. There is also this Lake Michigan frontage pathway which is broken up by various harbor entrances for boaters. This rougher pathway is less traveled, so especially on weekends is less of a busy pedestrian highway than the paved route.

For those unfamiliar with Chicago the tallest building on the left is the John Hancock, the middle one is the Trump Hotel, and the one on the right is the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower). Lincoln Park runs about 18 miles along Lake Michigan’s southwestern edge, north of downtown Chicago. It connects to other lake front parks in the downtown area. The parks of Chicago are part of the treasures that make Chicago such a special city.

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Variations in Design…

Urban City patterns and designs. Copyright 2016, Pamela Breitberg

 

I will let you, the viewer, observe the many design elements in these two natural and man-made compositions.

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Florida wetland patterns and designs. Copyright 2016, Pamela Breitberg

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Unclear diversity…

First glance of this white patch of springtime, from my bicycle, looks like a uniform cluster of Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), named by the famed Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Natural diversity is one of the amazing characteristics of a wild, mostly-undisturbed area. Chicago’s Cook Country Forest Preserve is as close as I can get in this urban area to native wildlife.

As I get closer to the Anemone, I realize that other spring blooms are present in this “mostly” Anemone patch of forest floor. Note the Trout Lily leaves in the right and lower portions of the overall image. The fence in the background separates a public golf course from the bike trail. The shrub is probably the invasive Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and its presence reinforces that this is an urban, partly disturbed forest.

This small patch of woodland floor hosts a multitude of plant species; some will become visible in several months. This time my eyes stay focused on the natives.

Forest floor of Anemone and Trout Lily, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Forest floor of Anemone and Trout Lily, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Wood Anemone with a few other natives. copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Wood Anemone with a few other natives. copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Close up of Anemone with Trout Lily peaking into frame. copyright 2015, Pamela Breitberg

Close up of Anemone with Trout Lily peaking into frame. copyright 2015, Pamela Breitberg

Portrait of tiny Wood Anemone, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

Portrait of tiny Wood Anemone, copyright 2015 Pamela Breitberg

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Many stories, some yet to be told…

Fall forest floor copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Fall forest floor copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Oak leaf and acorn copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Oak leaf and acorn copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

 

 

 

 

The forest floor offers many stories. It’s top layer is currently full of nuts, as yet uncovered soon to fall leaves. I do not recall such a nut proliferation in the twenty seven years I have witnessed these Preserves first-hand. My concern is real, knowing that when plants are stressed and in danger their defense is to make many seeds in an effort to ensure survival of their species. This knowledge also comforts me as I realize once again that nature’s abilities to endure are indeed amazing. This has been a year of extremes in the Chicago region. We have witnessed cycles of extreme heat and drought followed by extreme rains; each taking a toll on the plants’ root systems and wildlife. Trees seem to take longer to respond to weather extremes, but the abundance of acorn and other nuts tell me that their roots have been unable to provide enough water for stable health. A story of nature’s struggle to endure.

Outer shells copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Outer shells copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

This patch of forest floor also tells the story of “native versus invasive” or rather “disturbed land”. These images are from the street’s edge where the Forest workers were asked by neighboring residences to control the “weeds” that were growing out into the street, scratching passing cars. The weeds are unwelcome by native forest species as well as the non-native suburban residents; these Eurasian immigrants (the plants!!) have learned to survive and thrive shading out potential growth of native oak and wildflowers while also “volunteering” their presence in adjacent gardens.

Finally there is one more story yet to unfold. Seeds will soon be covered with leaves providing conditions ripe for future growth into new perennial native plants and some may develop into majestic Oak trees as well as more “weeds”. Some will have additional help from the squirrels who are busy establishing their winter food rations; any seeds left uneaten can begin their new stage of life next spring. And the stories continue.

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urban wildlife…

One of two prairie patches in this area of Cook County Forest Preserve, Miami Woods. I’ve seen deer along the bike (and jogger and walker) trail, but never so close to the trail in the prairie area. Yes, they are fairly comfortable with humans passing by; but never tame.  I still feel lucky after 27 years of observations when they allow me to watch for a while.

Urban deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Urban deer copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Appearances aren't what they seem; copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

Appearances aren’t what they seem; copyright 2013 Pamela Breitberg

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