Chicago happens to be one of my favorite cities. One of the reasons I’ve grown so fond of it is because of its relative nearness to where I live. I can hop an Amtrak train from Elkhart, Indiana in the morning, then spend the day walking around, taking pictures. Then take a return train that evening. It also means that some of the photographs can be taken after dark, an excellent time for urban pictures. I focused this visit on Chicago Union Station and the area around it.
Each of these photographs are linked to my Flickr account. By clicking on it, you go to the Flickr website and my photostream. These were taken on 11 September 2014. When spring arrives, I’m planning another trip.
Click on a photograph for full size version of the picture, plus meta information, etc.
Waiting for Train
Waiting for a late arriving morning train to Chicago at the Amtrak Station, Elkhart. (I’m not in this photo)
Elkhart Amtrak Station, Outdoors
Waiting for a late arriving morning train to Chicago
South Loop Lighting Up
The Chicago South Loop area as darkness begins to make its arrival.
Corinthian Columns outside Union Station
Near Union Station
Corinthian columns outside Union Station
Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches near Union Station
To the Trains
Descending to the trains at Union Station
See my Flickr Photostream
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” — Charles Dickens
This just about sums up today and the last few days. Some small signs that winter may be pondering leaving us for a season, but has not quite made up its mind. I’m no longer a big fan of winter. Maybe this comes with age. I endure winter.
However we have two bird feeders filled with sunflower seed. As a result we have more birds this season than ever before. We can watch them out the kitchen window, and they put on quite a show. At times there are well over one-hundred birds. Our visitors are Northern Flicker, common woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Chickadee, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch and more.
I’ve purchased more sunflower seed this winter than prior seasons. The birds are eating more poundage in seed than our fifty pound dog consumes in dog food.
However this year we have some unwelcome quests stealing food — squirrels. Fat squirrels. Hoping for help in ridding my feeder area of these rodents, I checked some web sites on what eats squirrels, thinking maybe I can invite quests for supper. I found What Eats, which gives a list animals which enjoy fresh squirrel. We already have coyotes, owls, foxes, and hawks. However the one I’d never heard of is a Fisher. Looking at a map, I doubt they are found this far south in the US.
My favorite outdoor pastime is landscape and nature photography. Normally during the winter I do not go out often to do this. But sometimes I take my camera out the back door, walk around a bit, and snap some cold photographs. Below are two of them.
By clicking on the the photo a much larger image opens.
When thinking of winter, this hymn always comes to mind:
In the Bleak Mid-Winter
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
— by Christina Rossetti:
From the time I was small I loved walking. This is no accident, because some of my earliest memories are of walking with my father. At one time — World War II era 1940’s — we lived in a small West Virginia village, and were without a car. We walked to the grocer, barbershop, bus stop, and school. One of our parents might be with us on these trips, but it was also quite safe to walk around town alone. On some the best walks my father would take us into the surrounding hills and woods. These walks always felt long to me. We would walk and talk. And the best part of it was that we were with him. We enjoyed each other. He knew the woods, and exactly which path to take.
This habit — this love for walking into the woods — or anywhere for that matter, stayed with me into my teen years. In the summer or on Saturdays and Sundays, I’d sometimes go into the woods near our home, and walk around the hill, along the edge of some cliffs, and then further into the woods. If I were going to the nearby city, and didn’t have a car available, I never hesitated to walk. Also through my early teens I had a morning paper route, so had to get up before daylight in the winter months, and and sometimes walk to deliver my papers along a hilly, dirt country road. I remember one particular morning when I was about fourteen. The morning was pitch dark and I had trouble seeing the road in front of me. I’d been over this road many times before, so knew the way in spite of the darkness.
Many years later, in my late forties, I went through a personal crisis. It was hard on me, and I felt at wits end at times. I visited my father, who lived over two hundred miles away. He asked me to join him on a walk. We went through the fields, and once again walked and talked. What I remember most is the encouragement he gave me. I do miss those walks.
I am old now, but I still walk when I can. Now I’m almost always alone. However I’m an amateur photographer, so my camera goes with me. Landscapes are my favorite subjects to photograph. One day it suddenly dawned on me just how many of my pictures feature a pathway of some sort, as the focal point.
It seems that walking is always a part of me, even my dream life. One recurring dream is being on a pathway that never gets shorter. I walk and walk, but never reach the destination. These are not the most pleasant dreams, and I’m happy to wake up. However there’s another. In this one I walk to a destination high atop a mountain. It seems to be the place of ultimate destination. The strange part of it is this: I see myself at the peak, which seems to be place of perfect peace and beauty. It gives me great satisfaction to have reached it. I know its where I belong, and I know a Presence is there with me. But — as yet I’ve never seen the other side. I haven’t had this dream often, but with longing, want to revisit it. I can’t help wondering about that view on the other side.
One of the places I do a lot of my walking is the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, a few miles from home. On the following page are a few photos of the trails I explored in the fall of 2014: Autumn Trails at Merry Lea Environmental Center.