Monday, October 26, 2009

"Thou knowest"

Thornton Memorial Gardens, Homewood, Illinois; just a few blocks east of the intersection of Ridge Road and Halsted Avenue. Look closely, and you will see the fresh flowers beside the grave of a toddler who has been dead for seventy-six years.

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.

Ezekiel 37:3

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The colors at their peak

At Glenwood Woods (where the woodchucks chuck?). The place was alive with robins. Maybe this is where they stay for the winter. Scientists are forever telling us they are year-round residents, and yet anyone with eyes and a backyard can see they do come back -- from somewhere -- in the spring.

And, after the woods, a few neighborhood trees.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall, again

Friday, October 9, 2009

The peace prize

So President Obama gets the Nobel Peace Prize. Just like that. Normally I would go to the blogs and the forums to find out what all the bright people are thinking, but here is my gut reaction first: someone is trying to make a fool of this man. He can do that all on his own -- we all can do that on our own, that's the human condition -- but I do believe, even if the prize givers are serious, then they can have no idea what damage they've just done him at home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Tudor Year: October

Theme: paradox -- population growth and poverty

Recreation of a Tudor farm. (Image no longer available on the web. Originally from; see Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.)

October 12: birth of Prince Edward, 1537
October 24: death of Queen Jane (Seymour), 1537

The salient fact about sixteenth-century England was population growth and therefore -- because a pre-industrial economy did not have enough work for all -- falling wages. People turned out of their situations by the dissolution of the monasteries and the breaking up of great feudal households were reduced to building shelter on 'waste' ground. Country men and women who could find work on a gentleman's estate (like William Petre's) would at least be fed in the master's hall during their employ. A cottage might be one room, 16 feet long, to house a family. Fairly comfortable people might bequeath clothes, furniture, and fireplace tools in their wills; a poor woman left a cow and calf, apples, and a parcel of wool. The half-timbered 'Tudor' architecture with which we are familiar only came in in the second half of the sixteenth century, and then only among the better-off farmers. For great King Harry, October was the month of his one legitimate son's birth, and of the death of the baby's mother twelve days later.


Guy, John. "The Tudor Age," in The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain, ed. Kenneth O. Morgan. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1984, pp. 223-228.

Fussell, George Edwin. The English Rural Labourer: His Home, Furniture, Clothing & Food from Tudor to Victorian Times. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975 (originally published by the Batchworth Press, London, 1949), pp. 3-4.

Emmison, F. G. Tudor Secretary: Sir William Petre at Court and Home. London and Chichester: Phillimore & Co., 1970 (first published by Longmans, Green, & Co., 1961), pp. 140-141.

Fussell, p. 6.

Ibid., pp. 14-16

Ibid., p. 8.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn colors (with lots of reds)

Sand Ridge Nature Center, Calumet City, IL. All the while you walk here, you are never out of earshot of traffic noise and the wail of police sirens. The land is an old onion farm, overgrown and transformed into a forest preserve managed by Cook County -- and by the way, why do we need three county employees staffing the near-empty center on a Sunday morning? Such nice people, of course.

Mighty oaks from ....

I think of this as "my" cottonwood tree. It's enormous.

This is all one tree.

Half the base. How old is it? Two hundred years? Three hundred?

I know this is a native something-or-other, just not sure what.

Now who planted this? Johnny Appleseed?

Forest path

Poison ivy vines climb the trees.

The pond. The sign reads, "Don't kill us with kindness," and explains that feeding wildlife is a bad idea.

A bald cypress at the edge of "the marsh."

Bald cypress foliage

The "marsh" has become dry ground in about five years or so.

Painted turtles at the nature center.

Calumet City has its very own dinosaur bone. A sign nearby explains that the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park were actually from the Cretaceous period, not the Jurassic. "Maybe," the sign suggests, "nobody would go see a movie called Cretaceous Park." Good point. Does "Jurassic" simply sound more fierce? Or is it easier to spell?

One of three red-tailed hawks, all too injured to survive in the wild. These birds are bigger than you think.

Shouldn't something be eating all this algae?

More vine-shrouded trees