A Splendorous Friday December 14 in Chicago

Triskaidekaphobics fear Friday the 13th, but we almost need to invent a new word on the other end of the spectrum for the Friday the 14th that Chicago experienced.

I posted a number of times on Fall Foliage and the experience of the changing seasons here in Chicago. Typical Fall goings on. The leaves turn colors and drop from the branches.

But, here it is a week before the official start of winter and it feels like someone has turned back the clock. To be sure, most trees are barren of leaves. But, we had spring-like conditions Friday.

Here is Monroe Harbor Bereft of boats, but glistening in sunshine

Here is Monroe Harbor bereft of boats, but glistening in sunshine. That’s Navy Pier in the background

The normal high for December 14 is 35 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of 23. We experienced a high of 49 F and a low of 31. Notice that the low is only four degrees under the normal high. In addition, we basked in a luxurious sunny day with very little wind. Most un-Decemberlike. The weather bureau reports that we have just set a record of 285 days without measurable snow. The last such snowfall was March 4. The latest “first measurable snow of season” – December 16, 1965.

Good for a double take - a sightseeing boat in mid-December

Good for a double take – a sightseeing boat in mid-December on Lake Michigan

The day started in the 30s, but worked its way up fast. I felt like it was an imposter 30s because there was no bite to the air. On my first bike ride, I didn’t take the dog, because she doesn’t ride in less than 45F weather. I enjoy having her with me, but I don’t want to be practicing animal abuse in the bargain. By the time I got home from the ride, however, the temp had risen above 40F and I knew I would have company if/when I rode in the afternoon.

I hope these photos demonstrate just what a gorgeous day we had here. Keep in mind that mid-December in Chicago could have blizzard-like conditions.

Gabi taking a rest on a bench wearing only a hoodie in mid-December

Gabi taking a rest on a bench wearing only a hoodie in mid-December

I ride my bike every day that I can, so the variance in temperature meant that I wore a different outfit. Also, I don’t take my dog with when we have less than 45 F.

Because I carry my iPhone with me on rides, I was able to record some of the day’s splendor.

This past Friday was indeed one to remember and for which to be thankful for to a generous providence.

Tony

Advertisements

Lakeshore East Park in Chicago

Created by the Magellan Development Corp LLC. This lush 6 acre park was dedicated to the city in 2005 and is part of the Chicago Park District. It features more than 500 trees of which there are 20 varieties. There are more than 100 varieties of plants and flowers. I think it is also one of the Downtown area’s best kept secrets.

Some final fall foliage

The Magellan website says, “The gated children’s park includes interactive water features and play structures on colorful surfaces, some made out of recycled tires. The area is bordered by shade arbors and seating for parents to observe children in close proximity. The centerpiece is a spray fountain that children can run through and enjoy….

Northeast corner of the park

“The long list of awards to the park that took four years to create includes Best Open Space and Best New Park in Chicago.”

All of that is true and as you can see from these photos the park is especially beautiful in Fall. I lived in London for a year when I worked for Reuters. I think they have some of the most beautiful parks in the world. Lakeshore East compares favorably with a London park.

Looking west you can see the bottom stories of the famed Aqua building

This is the park where I walk my dog three times every day. So, I am here regularly. As a result, I can attest to something the Magellan website neglects to mention, namely, that the park transforms high rise living in the area to neighborhood living.

Because I am there every day of the year, I encounter the amazing array of my neighbors. Many of them own dogs, but there are also the parents of the toddlers in the children’s park. There are the fellow retirees who come to sit and enjoy this tranquil urban beauty. Folks in the area come to stroll, picnic with family, play frisbee or soccer or just hang out.

I have lived in a high rise building since 1980, but this is the first time I was able to enjoy the experience of being in a neighborhood. It is like going back in time to my childhood when you would walk out your door and know everyone that you would encounter because they were your neighbors.

In addition, because the park serves as a gateway for folks on their way to Navy Pier and the lakefront, I also encounter numerous tourists, both local and international. You can read some of their reactions to the park here.

Looking west and down from Harbor Drive

I shot these photos to give you a look at the park in fall, but it is equally beautiful in the rest of the year, too.

As Michelin would say, “Worth a detour.”

Tony

Lakefront Leaf Mosaic

This is really funny. Most days I stretch out my quads after riding 10 to 15 miles. One of my favorite places to stretch is at the Doane Observatory behind the Adler Planetarium. There are some nice fence bars there to hold on to while I stretch. The funny part is that I never noticed till this morning that the leaf coloring was magnificent. I was so busy stretching the concentrating on breathing deeply that I couldn’t see the woods for the trees. Or, in this case I guess I couldn’t see the leaves for the eaves.

I park the bike here and support myself on the fence to the left while stretching.

Here are the leaves which are right in front of my face while I stretch.

Amazing array of colors, no?

Tony

Lovely Fall Day for Lakefront Biking

I shot these photos yesterday on what may have been one of the best days of the year for riding a bike. Temp remained in the mid 60s and the wind wasn’t crazy.

This is what it looked like just before sunrise.

It was red in the morning, but no sailor’s warning was needed.

After walking poochie we got out on the bike.

I thought The Riverwalk looked especially inviting.

This frosted treetop is down by the Museum Campus.

In the background you can see the Willis Tower on the left and the Hancock Building on the right.

I retired on October 2 some years ago so this was the final, but one, day of my bicycling year.

Tony

Fall Foliage Near Downtown Chicago

Here are a couple of examples of fall foliage that we can see in downtown Chicago at the Lakefront. I shot both of these on South Columbus Drive just one street east of the famous Michigan Avenue.

Doesn’t it look like these trees are being ‘frosted’ like a bunch of cupcakes?

I especially like the ‘frosted’ effect on both of these photos. Where the leaves look like they were partially frosted, but the job isn’t complete yet.

South Columbus Drive is the staging area for parades, like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo.

I got these riding my bike Saturday.

Tony

First Fall Color Change on Chicago Lakefront Leaves

Riding my bike on the lakefront almost every day, I get to enjoy the beautiful scenery with the skyline as a backdrop. Fall is especially neat as the colors start to change. I always get a kick out of the seasonal ‘leaf peepers’ who get in their cars and drive to the hinterlands to see the leaves change when we have a symphony of color in downtown Chicago.

But, what makes the leaves change color in the Fall? Science Made Simple says, “The bright reds and purples we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.

“It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year.


These photos are from this week the beginning of the Fall season. It is still early and there has not been a great deal of color change yet. The full dimension of Fall color won’t occur till later in the season.

Consider these the overture.

Tony