A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (II)

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.

Very foggy morning, meeting a number of deers
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A Perfect Memorial Day Weekend (I)

Every year we hope that the weather will be nice on Memorial Day weekend and that what is considered the official start of summer will bring the summer weather.

Unfortunately, more often than not, that’s not the case. Either it is raining, or it is below 70 F or both, but most often, the weather is not good for swimming on the day when pools are official open.
This time, it was the opposite. The pools are not open, but the weather exceeds expectations! I decided to take upon the advice of the health authorities and spend most of this weekend outdoors. And also, doing some good things for myself.

Biked to the Farmers Market: they asked me to leave my bike at the entrance and kept an eye on it.
Greens, bread and chocolate – all you need! (plus coffee!)
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Busy. Tired. Tired. Hopeful

I would think that if I have so much work, I won’t be upset about anything else. But somehow it adds up: my ginormous workload, the overall worrisome situation in Illinois with a still-growing number of cases, being apart from the rest of the family, mom going crazy because of isolation.
I am trying to imagine how restless other people are becoming when even I, with all my understanding of the necessity of quarantine, have a difficult time continuing that way.

Last week, I started to bike early in the morning regularly. I loved these very early bike rides for a long time, but now it’s even better because usually there is nobody on the bike paths before 6 AM. However, today, I met several large groups of people walking in the forest preserve. That explained why there were no deers today :). One group consisted of at least ten adults with no masks on. And it was 5-40 AM.

One of the things which makes me feel tired is the fact that I constantly hear comments, both from “left” and “right,” about my behavior. It looks like in the eyes of half of the world, I am not doing enough and endangering myself and everybody around me. And for another half of the world, I am a panicer subdued to the propaganda.

My honest feelings are that none of us have enough information to evaluate the risks completely adequately. And every day, more information becomes available. I do not know about others, but my opinion on what’s the right behavior changes often. I am trying very hard not to criticize anybody’s behavior because I am not sure whether the ways I am handling the situation are better. I am trying very hard not to be angry with people. Success varies :).

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Time in Deer Grove Forest Preserve

This weekend was nice and warm and sunny, and tomorrow it will become much colder. It does not look like we are going to have another summer-like day till Memorial Day weekend.

I tried to use this warm time as much as possible, doing tons of things outdoors.

I spent a total of at least four hours in the forest preserve, both biking and walking. On Saturday, I decided to take mom to the forest preserve again since she enjoyed it so much last weekend.
This time, in an attempt to minimize encounters with other people, I decided to take her to a different site, which worked great. Although there were still people, there were way fewer visitors there. Also, the roads are wider, so you can keep the distance. And last but not least, the change of scenery is a good thing.

A woodpecker
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One More Walk in the Forest Preserve

Last weekend, Saturday was as bad as it could be – rain all day without stopping. The forecast for Sunday, however, was gorgeous, and I thought that I might try to take mom to the forest preserve.
Mom is holding up very well, but it’s not so easy for her. I am not taking her anywhere, even to the grocery store; she does not get a chance to meet my friends anymore. I thought that I might at least let her see some beautiful sights.

The week before that, the forest preserve was so crowded on Sunday, that I was afraid that it would be closed. But that Sunday morning, when I was biking, I barely saw any people. I told mom that we are going to try. She asked: you think it’s safe? I told her: I will drive you there and we will see. If there will be too many people for my comfort, we are turning around and driving back.

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Deer Grove Forest Preserve

Last Sunday, I went to the Forest Preserve to check my area and just to be there. My friend told me that the parking closest to my house was full in the morning. I had some hope that things will be better in the afternoon, but they weren’t. I turned around and drove to the main parking lot.

It busy as well, but at least there is more space there, so I found a place to park, it just took me longer to walk to my area. There were lots of people walking, running, and biking. Most of the visitors were trying hard to follow the social distancing guidelines, but it was very difficult! I am not ruling out the possibility that these people thought that I have some authority since I was wearing the forest preserve monitor vest :). There was a police car by the entrance, and I was thinking – what if the Cook County officials would decide to close the Forest Preserve after seeing such a crowd?! So far, they didn’t, and I hope that people will continue to try their best.

When I talked to my daughter, she told me that there are cities that opted to close some streets for traffic, to allow more room for people to walk observing the distance. She mentioned that Madison is considering similar measures. I think it would be great if something like that would happen in Chicago – I feel for people who can’t be outside safely!

The Forest Preserve Parking
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It was a Very Busy Weekend – Weed Scouting

This weekend was very busy, almost like “before the war.” I am going to write about all the things which I did, because it’s important for me to feel that life can be filled with activities even under the circumstances. The good thing about being a weed scout is that although this is a volunteering activity, you can do it solo, and you have to go deep into the woods. I can’t even describe how grateful I am for this opportunity to do something positive.

So, Anne, consider this to be my first report of the season: I went to check my spring area yesterday, and there is no vegetation yet! It’s not even funny – I even looked under the oak leaves :).

I used my last year parking permit, as instructed, and I put on my Forest Preserve monitor vest, and I had my ID with me. To be honest, I got the impression that people who were walking on the path worried that I might ask them what in the world they are doing there:)

The Disappearance of Volunteering

This week was a week of thing falling apart. Ok, maybe not falling apart, but shutting down, with speed I could not imagine. It’s true that two weeks ago we lived in a different country and a different world.

We were ordered to work from home last Thursday night. The four of us still showed up in the office on Friday, for a variety of reasons, including one co-worker who was off on Thursday and didn’t check corporate emails:).

I wrote about the rapid museums and cultural venues closers, which followed. I was able to catch “the last of” most of them. And no matter how much my mind can understand the necessity of closers, my soul weeps.

As I’ve already mentioned, I went to escort last Saturday. It didn’t go great, and I promised to return when it is warmer. A woman with two boys stopped her car by the clinic and came out with a huge box of Girl Scout cookies – that’s for you guys! Each of us picked one:).

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