A Bustling Weekend: Here, There, and Everywhere
Well, so much for a quiet weekend at home spent getting things done.
That was our intent, really it was, but one thing pulled us this way, and another pulled us that way until we pretty much did anything but stay home and get things done. Well, other than the fact that the new weather-stripping is installed and a single light bulb was replaced, that is.
Jame took the day off on Friday since it was such picture-perfect weather, and he, Spence and I headed downtown to Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, otherwise known as “The 606”. (It was the three of us, no longer four. I’m still trying to embrace that change.)
Have you heard about The 606?
Apparently a group of city folk got together to talk about how they could introduce more green space into their urban environment and came up with the idea of retrofitting an unused train line into an elevated, plant-filled walkway similar to what had been done in NYC. The trail opened this past June, with a price tag of roughly $95 million, primarily funded by federal grants and local donors.
Respectful dogs, bikes, and strollers are all welcome on the 2.7 mile path. Fair warning however – without any bathroom stops, the trail relies on a “go before you go” concept.
This is what the trail looks like from the street.
Utterly unremarkable, don’t you think? You would drive right by it and not give it a second glance, but once you park and climb the entrance ramp, this is what you see: an elevated oasis for urban dwellers that’s free of traffic and replete with vegetation. I think we probably take greenery for granted in the suburbs, but it’s desperately needed in the city. It’s hard to tell from this shot, but the trail is about 20 feet above the ground, and with its pedestrian only rule and fences on either side, it provides a sense of security that I’ve never felt walking anywhere in the city before.
One of the coolest aspects of the trail, at least in my opinion, is that it runs directly above Chicago chef, Rick Bayless’ backyard garden. If you’ve ever watched his show, “Mexico One Plate at a Time” on PBS, you’ll know that he films his show in his home, and often showcases his gorgeous herb and vegetable backyard gardens. Now the whole blooming thing this is on display when you stroll along the elevated trail. If you’re interested in a closer look, I understand that you can sign up for a garden tour for the low, low price of $20 per person. The gardener who maintains the garden walks folks through it and tells them all about the special techniques he uses. On its best day ever, my garden has never looked this well-behaved.
It’s like the most beautiful secret garden, except this one feeds a lot of hungry amigos.
Here’s Rick’s private outdoor kitchen. Sweet! (I didn’t take this shot from the trail, I nabbed it from Google.)
Photo courtesy of: homesteadgardens.com
I was excitedly explaining to Spence that we were looking down on Rick Bayless’ garden when a young guy overheard me and mumbled to his friend, “Oh great. This is how it starts. One person finds out Rick Bayless lives there, blabs about it, and before you know it, the news spreads like wildfire and everyone will be gawking.” My husband, Jame, had been standing back a ways, heard what he said, caught up to the guy and asked, “Excuse me. Who did you say lives here?” To which the guy responded, “Rick Bayless.” To which Jame responded back, “Oh, see, I never would have known that if I hadn’t heard you blabbing about it.”
Point, set, match!
Okay, I’ll move on with our weekend saga before you start to look like this.
Rick Bayless has three Mexican restaurants in Chicago ranging from his upscale Topolobampo, which I think has the most delicious food, to his midrange Frontera Grill, to his casual Mexican street food-inspired XOCO (pronounced CHO ko). We’ve been to XOCO a couple of times before but felt compelled to visit again on Friday to make up for the “blabbing incident”. (Does this look a little like Hopper’s “Nighthawks” or am I in a habanero salsa-induced stupor?)
Rick, I love you dearly, but I have to say my pork sandwich was wickedly dry this time around.
On the drive home, I was teased and taunted about my missing loved one at every turn.
Friday night brought us back to the high school football field minus Logan, (WAAAHHH!) but this time with Spence playing his alto sax on the field since the middle school kids were special guests. (YAAAAY!)
Then, bright and early on Saturday, Spence and I headed over to his saxophone audition for a state band called ILMEA. I’ve never seen my typically too-cool-for-school boy quite so nervous. He was up against the best players in the area, most of whom were a year older than him. Regardless I thought he did a bang up job, and I always say that trying your hardest is more important than the final outcome any day. Speaking of which, we won’t know if he made it or not until next week.
The air in the holding room was thick with middle school jitters.
Saturday night we watched the Northwestern game on TV. We could have gone to see it in person considering we’re so close, but more than anything, I wanted to give Logan the space he deserves. I wanted to give him the opportunity to miss us so that when he does eventually see us we’ll get more than just a royal wave and a few minutes of distracted conversation.
All of a sudden, the cameras focused on the band and there he was in all of his blond side-burned, baseball-capped glory, and my heart did a flip.
I’ll tell you what, there are days when I’m filled with utter joy because he’s happy at his newly found collegiate home, but there are other times when a sense of loss swoops in and buries me, and the ache is almost as raw as the first day he left.
I’m ashamed to say that I actually stood up when he appeared on TV, walked over to the screen and caressed his cheek.
He didn’t seem to notice.
He was right in front of me, but yet an entire world away.
And finally, we woke up and headed out early on Sunday to go on our annual apple picking trek to Edward’s Apple Orchard in north central Illinois with my sister and her family.
On the way, we encountered a silo with an attitude.
Once there, we had a fun time riding the wagon out to the orchards, picking apples, petting goats, and spending way too much money on over-priced faux fall items like popcorn balls, pumpkin candles, and pepper corn salsa.
This is one fall tradition that has stood the test of time and hopefully will for years to come, someday to include new spouses, grand babies, and maybe even an absentee college boy or two.