Monday, April 19, 2004

Beverly Lake blog.

When Yuriko and I had arranged to have Lilly and Ann stay yesterday afternoon with friends who also have little kids, we'd planned on unpredictable April weather, and thought we'd go see a movie. But by Friday it was clear that Sunday would be an intensely warm day, and so better for staying outside, which is what we ultimately did. The meteorologists call an April day in the 80s F unseasonable, but I question the term. It's seasonable for the temps to yo-yo around.

First, lunch at a Thai restaurant in Streamwood, Illinois. How long ago was it that you had to go to the city for such a meal? How long before that, that you had to go to Thailand for such a meal? More or less within my lifetime, I suspect. That's progress. That's the world moving in the right direction, amid all the retrograde news. Yuriko and I ordered dishes that were hotter than we usually get, when we have to share them with our children. I had a duck curry, she spicy chicken. Both delicious. It did concern me that we were the only customers (at about 1 p.m.). Culinary progress has to be supported, the people of Streamwood weren't doing their bit. Or maybe it was just a slow day -- everyone was outside.

A map of Cook County, Illinois, has a sort of gamma shape to it. We live in the overhanging part of the gamma, and so do the people who were taking care of Lilly and Ann. We wanted to go somewhere fairly close, but not too close, and not developed. Somewhere to walk. I checked a handy guide I bought years ago called Outside Chicago, and found a spot: Beverly Lake. It's still in Cook County, part of a forest preserve at the extreme western tip of the gamma overhang. It was about a 15-minute drive nor'west on Higgins Road, a major surface road that roughly parallels I-90, that great Boston-to-Seattle road.

Beverly Lake itself is really just a big pond, maybe fed by a creek, but it was hard to tell. We followed a trail from the dusty parking lot to, and then around, this pond, and then into a scattering of low hills crowned by groves of trees or grassy meadows. In winter, the trail serves cross-country skiers.

At one point, the trail looped around a dark stand of evergreens. Not all the deciduous trees or bushes are grasses were green, but that color was gentrifying the browns and grays out of the neighborhood for the season. The air was very warm, but some high thin clouds kept the sun from being too oppressive, and the wind gusted at times. We must have been at the very edge of the air movement that, I've read, caused storms and tornadoes across the Great Plains yesterday.

I don't get ga-ga about spotting animals in the wild (or the semi-wild, like Beverly Lake), and I don't see the appeal in birding, but I don't mind running across animals in the wild, provided they aren't bigger than me or in an ill temper. We saw the white tails of some whitetail deer, since they were running away from us into a thicket. There were hawks gliding overhead at one point, and a variety of other birds around, especially robins. Looking down at the trail, I caught the glint of a couple of greenbottle flies. Green- and bluebottle flies, with their shiny metallic backs, fascinated me as a kid. As we sat on the ground resting at one place, I watched some black ants, who were not resting. No wonder they're anthropomorphized as tireless workers.

As for other humans, we had the trail almost to ourselves. Two men and two boys -- maybe a father, sons, and uncle -- were fishing at the edge of Lake Beverly. Toward the end of our walk, when the trail looped back around to the lake, I heard two young men coming. One of them doing an army marching cadence for the other: I don't know/but I been told... followed by some obscene lyrics. They marched by us, turned around, and passed by us again a few minutes later. Just another minor mystery for those of us who witnessed it. Are one or both are getting ready to join up? An initiation into some club? Applying for a job at the U.S. Department of Silly Walks?


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