Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Parkways

At the Chicago Wilderness Congress I heard a presentation by one of the organizers of Sunday Parkways. Basically, they shut down about 4 miles of north/south streets for a few hours on a Sunday to give people the chance to walk, bike, skateboard, skip, or dance their way from neighborhood to neighborhood. I think this is a great way to encourage people to get some exercise, meet their neighbors, and explore the communities. The two pilot Sunday Parkways in October 2008 included the Logan Square, Humbolt Park, Garfield Park, Lawndale, and Little Village.

But what struck me most is this: the people on the near the lake have the lakefront trails. The people to the west have the forest preserve network. What about all of those people in between? The lack of greenspace in many parts of Chicago is painfully evident on this map (links to a pdf). Sunday Parkways essentially turns a boulevard into a public space, even if only for part of a day. Though it isn't exactly a forest preserve or lakefront trail, I think it's a step in the right direction.

Friday, November 14, 2008

oh. my. gosh.

Yesterday I attended the Chicago Wilderness Congress at the UIC Forum. I could probably write an insanely long post with all of my thoughts, but I don't think anyone would read it. So, instead, I'm just going to encourage you to learn more about the exciting things going on with all of the Chicago Wilderness partner organizations! I'm particularly excited about the Leave No Child Inside initiative.

Honestly, I've been learning so much this semester about awesome organizations in Chicago that I've been overwhelmed to try and post about them so you've been stuck with ump-teen views of my plants.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moving plants inside for the winter

I wanted to post some photos of transplanting my window box plants to their new lives as houseplants. Some of their root systems were really impressive!

Below: Cordyline. The roots just kept going!

Asparagus fern 'springeri'. I had a hard time getting this one out of the window box.

Sweet potato vine. They really do make little potatoes! But don't eat them.

These were my biggest plants that came indoors (two cordyline, two asparagus ferns, and two sweet potato vines- one pictured).

This is my herb box. I moved it inside when I thought it was going to frost, but then I moved it back out. From left to right it has: sage, basil (scraggly), and lemon balm. The boxes behind it have dusty miller, which I gave away on Freecycle.

My nasturtiums are also inside now. I never noticed what a lovely scent they have until I brought them inside. They aren't doing quite as well as before, but hopefully I can enjoy them a while longer and then save the seeds for next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

UIC in full splendor

Photo taken November 3, 2008 from UIC campus. The Sears Tower is in the background.

I really don't think UIC is ever going to win any kind of awards for its architecture or landscaping, but for a few weeks in the fall there are some spectacular displays of color. Here's a series of photographs taken from approximately the same place on different days.

October 31, 2008

November 2, 2008

November 6, 2008

November 7, 2008

A closer look from Nov. 7.

These Norway maples do look beautiful in the fall.
November 3 (above)

November 6 (below)

Part of getting to know a place and its nature involves getting to know its seasons. I'll try to make regular posts of seasonal harbingers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

the real first frost

Just kidding. Two weeks ago when I thought we might have our first frost, it only got down to about 36° F, and then we had more wonderfully warm weather! But last night was the real deal. For the past few days the lows have been hovering in the mid-thirties, but last night it was 28° F at Midway Airport.

Amazingly, I still have tomatoes. On November 10. In Chicago. Two weeks ago I went out and picked everything I could find, but it was dark and I missed some. I've actually got another round of cherry tomatoes. I think there's a strong microclimate effect on our porch. It faces south and gets direct sunlight all day. But most importantly I think, there is a roof over the porch. I think this, combined with the sun on the bricks all day, probably keeps our porch just that little bit warmer that keeps my tomatoes from freezing. Here's two cherry tomatoes:

I took this photo this morning before I went to work.

Today was also the first day this fall that I wore a scarf over my face to bike to work. I might do a post soon about cold weather biking.

Gosh, writing about those tomatoes reminds me that I didn't actually pick them and it's supposed to get cold again tonight. I should probably get out of my nice warm bed and go get them (this morning I did retrieve a few plants that really shouldn't have stayed outside last night)!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

biking to Obama's big bash

First of all, OBAMA!!! YEAH! We made history tonight.

Biking to and from the rally was definitely the way to go. We locked our bikes at State and Jackson and joined the rally in the ticketed section with our friends. Afterwards, we definitely weren't among the first to leave but we made it home at 12:20 am.

A scary thing did happen when we were walking back to our bikes. We saw a guy get knocked out cold in the middle of State Street a few blocks south of Jackson and some guys took off running. Another guy had a bloody nose. I have no idea what happened but we crossed to the other side of the street.

I'm so proud of electing Barack Obama. I think his election will go a long way to restoring our leadership in innovation. America has a lot of greening to do! This is our chance to make it happen. I can't wait!