I love summer in Illinois. I am not talking about just summer in Chicago, filled with all these amazing events and activities: music festivals, parades, markets, Crown Fountain, icecream at the River Walk, and the fireworks on the Navy Pier. Chicago summer is fantastic, but I also love Illinois summer away from the city.
I love that it is hot. Yes, I know that many people hate the Midwest summer for being hot and humid. But I love it. Maybe, that’s because, since my early childhood, hot weather was a luxury. Something we didn’t get at home. You had to travel to The South. The South was almost as appealing as “zagranitza” (see related post).
In any case, I love it when the outside temperature is in the lower 80’s. My picture of the perfect summer is the following. It’s warm enough that I can wear shorts and a sleeveless top. I am on my deck, or rather on the wooden steps of my deck, I am barefoot, and my soles feel the warmth of the wood. The mourning doves are mourning; I hear their uuu! uuu! The sun is not setting down yet, but it starts to go down, My back is feeling the door of my kitchen. It’s never extremely hot on my deck because the sun never touches it directly. And it’s that moment when I sit there and do nothing. No audiobook in my ears. No looking at my phone. Nothing, but the sun which starts to descent, and the mourning of the doves …
Every year, the first day I can sit like this marks the arrival of summer. This year, it was so cold for so long that I could not even believe that this day will come, even a week ago.
And now, for the fourth day in a row, we have a perfect summer. Each day of the long weekend was a gift!
Here are some pictures of want I was doing on Sunday.
One of the many things which are not normal these days is the fact that we can’t come to the stores with our reusable bags. “Until further notice,” as most of the stores as saying.
I washed all my reusable shopping bags and all my reusable mesh grocery bags and folded them on one of the shelves in the laundry room. I hope I will be able to use them again at some point. But each time I am placing a pile of plastic bags into the garbage, my heart wrenches.
Last week, I finally watched the documentary Plastic Wars, which was on my list for a while. It is horrifying to see all the damage that plastic does for the environment. It’s devastating to learn that even when you think you are recycling, you are often not. That makes you to disgust plastic packaging even more. And yet – that’s what we have to do these days…
I still highly recommend the movie – watch it here.
The other day, I asked Boris to take a picture of how does the nature in Helsinki looks like now. He said, he already did, and sent me a link to several images of awakening nature. And then the next morning, when I called him at our usual meeting time, he has outside, walking in the Sibelius park (he lives right by it).
He showed me the flowers and the trees in bloom and the bikers and the dogs :). And I didn’t feel sad like “oh, I wish I was there!” On the contrary, it felt so nice and so special, it was really “as if I was there.”
Yesterday I was collecting seeds with the Friends of Deer Grove volunteers; that’s one of the happiest things you can do in the forest preserve. And there we’ve witnessed a little miracle: a butterfly just got out of her cocoon and getting ready to start her life.
Did you know that the butterflies can’t fly when they just got out? I didn’t know that! But it turned out that they need to get their wings dry and to pump their lungs to get ready for the first flight. So here she is, working her beautiful wings.
We thought it’s a Monarch, but when I’ve posted this video on Instagram, another volunteer has commented that this is a Viceroy butterfly! Maybe I will memorize them all eventually 🙂
I weed scout life hack: if you are planning to epilate your legs, do it before you scout it the forest preserve! If you forget about it, you will have to wait for three days for all your scratches to get healed. But then you would not want to show your wounds to anybody anyways!
I didn’t make this mistake on Sunday, and enjoyed scouting my area – I think it’s the most beautiful prairie area in the whole forest preserve. Since it has been quite rainy lately, there are more wet spots than usual, and I’ve ended up with my feet wet in the first twenty minutes of the walk. But look at the pictures – isn’t it worth getting a little wet?
I’ve started to switch to reusable “everything” last fall, slowly trying one new thing after another and making sure they are easy to use, and I really need them. And looks like the past week was my first week of 100% reusable – bags, wrapping, etc.
Granted, I’ve used only reusable shopping bags way before that, but in September I’ve tried reusable produce bags – and loved them.
Then came reusable wax wrapping paper, then – silicon lids,
and then – all sorts of bags. I’ve tried several different kinds of silicon and non-silicon bags, which could be used instead of ziplock bags, big and small. The most challenging task was to find the bags which I could use to take my lunch to work – they had to be leak-proof, and durable enough to survive my commute to the city. After several tries, I am finally happy with my solution:
Of cause I still use plastic from time to time, for example, when I pack something for people to take with them, or when I would occasionally forget my bags at home. But this is a negligible number of bags. Interestingly, I never thought I will be so happy with the notion of me going green, and so proud of being able to do so!