Driving Lawrence to Church

When Mother Goose stepped out the front door of her warm and cozy home on Sunday morning, the frigid winter air made the insides of her nostrils tingle. From childhood, she always liked that sensation, and this unusually cold winter had provided lots of frozen side effects that only a goose could enjoy.

Glancing up the block, she spied a familiar figure shuffling along in the middle of the street. Bundled in several coats and hats, it was undoubtedly Lawrence Little. Had he been watching from a safe distance for her to emerge from the house? Without a watch, how would he know that it was almost time for Mother and Husband Goose to leave for church? Was it again “coincidence” or another miracle of timing?

“Good morning, Lawrence!” Mother Goose called out in a very hearty manner. “Would you like a ride to church?”

He nodded and smiled.

Mother Goose is always concerned about whether people have eaten their breakfast. “Did you eat breakfast?” she now asked Lawrence Little, the homeless man who just rode the “L” all night long and slept with one eye open to watch for bad guys who might hurt him or steal something from him.

“Yes, ma’am, I did. I had coffee and donuts this morning.”

Mother Goose smiled brightly into the darkly sad face of Lawrence Little. “Was it OK last night?” she wondered out loud.

Lawrence Little nodded. “I met this lady,” he said. “See, she told me that she’d let me stay at one of her apartments for five months and all I need to pay her is $40.”

“Wow,” I answered. “That sounds really good for you.”

He nodded and smiled.

Unfortunately, Mother Goose has heard this similar story from Lawrence Little before. He always needs just a little bit of cash and then he’ll have shelter from some kind lady somewhere. The names change, the addresses of the apartment buildings change and the dollar amount changes, but it’s still the same plot.

I invested in a lot of Lawrence Little last year…

And that is the dilemma that we face when we encounter men and women who are homeless. Is it right to give them money when they explain that they are “just this close to a breakthrough and if you could just help me just one more time”?

I couldn’t resist asking, “Lawrence, do you have any of that twenty left that I gave you last night for shoveling?”

“No, Ms Natalie, I had to spend it on the trains all night long and then breakfast this morning.”

That may be the case…

He told me that they don’t let you ride for just one fare all night long. But last time I checked you can transfer around on trains for a long time before a conductor will conduct you off the train platform, especially on a cold winter’s night. Anyway, not wanting to be a jaded suburban goose I didn’t push the situation any further.

Chicago-Loop-SEcorner

Instead I told Lawrence about a place where he might be able to secure some decent transitional housing — Safe Haven. I looked up the address and the phone number on my smart phone while we drove to church in our warm comfortable goose mobile. I passed the piece of paper to Lawrence hoping that after church, he might jump back on that public transportation, arrive at the Safe Haven, check in and live happily ever after…

Seriously, Mother Goose?

Date Night Gone Awry

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen

Mother Goose doesn’t necessarily chase after the movies of Woody Allen, but the reviews for Blue Jasmine sounded interesting. I’m a modestly casual fan of Cate Blanchett, and Alec Baldwin’s Capital One commercials make me smile — good reasons to make plans to see a new movie.

With the film’s limited release on Friday, we could easily drive into the city, park near the Landmark Century Theater, catch a nice dinner beforehand at La Creperie and enjoy the movie together. What lovely plans! What a charming date night this could be!

We drove downtown in the Cadillac of Husband Goose and easily found a parking space on Diversey Parkway, just a block from the restaurant and theater. Husband Goose even checked with a Chicago policeman on his bicycle about whether this was a legal spot to park! The officer wholeheartedly agreed that this was a beautiful parking space.

We merrily skipped along to La Creperie.

We took this picture last year in June.  As I looked at the pix from that date night, I saw that I wore the same dress and we sat at the exact same table.

We took this picture last year in June. As I looked at the pix from that date night, I saw that I wore the same dress and we sat at the exact same table.

As you know, Mother Goose does not believe in accidents, coincidences or chance encounters…

I had read online that this quaint family-run French bistro would be closing its doors for the last time later this month. We wondered why they would close — surely business is always good with normal thirty minute waits on most nights. Forty-one years of serving delicious savory and sweet crepes, soup a l’oignon gratinee and an exciting array of fine wines — how on earth could they possibly be done?

While we waited to be seated outside on the back patio, we spotted the owner, Germain Roignant. He was acting as busy host for the night, not unusual at this long-lived northside bistro. Germain is an older gentleman, charming with his French accent and attentiveness to the ladies. We asked why he was closing his wonderful restaurant.

He explained that he had wanted to pass La Creperie on to his son, but after giving it a try, his son had decided it wasn’t for him and had moved to California with his wife. But then, the most heartbreaking…Germain told us that his son had now died, just the day before.

Of course, tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to this news.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“Somebody called in and couldn’t come to work, I need to be here,” he said with a sad shrug and then walked back towards the entrance to greet a new crowd of guests.

We stood speechless, absorbing this information and quietly relating it to our own families and children. How sad, how terrible to have to plan a funeral for a son… Germain’s wife Sara had passed away in 2002 — we could still read the grief on his face for losing his lifelong best friend and lover on the restaurant’s thirtieth anniversary.

How life can be so very short and confusing…

We had delicious food, of course, watching the precious proprietor rush back and forth through the restaurant, seating his company and receiving hugs and condolences from close friends who had heard the awful news.

When we finished our sumptious dinner crepes, our Bananas Sara and our coffees, we met Germain at the front door on our way out. “God bless you,” I whispered into his kindly old face. “Thank you, dear,” he replied and planted a warm kiss on my cheek.

Lost in our private thoughts, we walked silently to the theater…

But this was just the beginning. Incredibly, the date night continued to go awry. You won’t want to miss the next story where Mother Goose continues to describe the strange details of this night…

And Then We Went To The Beach…

As if visiting the tallest building in the world AND the largest stainless steel bean in the world wasn’t enough, we also took the dear sister of Mother Goose to the most beautiful urban beach in the world! The sand was soft and golden, the waves on beautiful Lake Michigan were soothing, the water was warm on our tired and blistered feet, and the view of the Chicago lake shore skyline SPECTACULAR.

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Oak Street Beach snuggles up to the city just as cozy as a fresh beach towel after a swim. Though we were only yards from busy Lake Shore Drive on a Sunday afternoon, the sound of the waves on the shore drowned out any traffic sounds. If we closed our eyes, we could imagine a tropical island. If we looked out across the lake, we could see lovely luxury ocean liners crossing the horizon. If we looked behind us, the unique view of Chicago was breathtaking.

The sun slowly set behind the skyscrapers, but rays of light suddenly shot through the tall buildings and lit up The Drake Hotel. Surely it was a sign that next time my dear sister visits our fair city, we should plan a visit or perhaps a stay at this famous Chicago landmark. In the meantime, all foots in and love from Mother Goose!

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I just think this is a funny pic...

I just think this is a funny pic…

Just a couple of gooses...

Just a couple of gooses…

A Love/Hate Relationship with the Bean

We have so many tourist attractions in Chicago, but none quite compare with Cloud Gate. This unique sculpture is the centerpiece of our Millennium Park and draws millions of visitors every year since its unveiling in 2006. It is made from 168 stainless steel plates welded seamlessly together and polished to a highly reflective degree so that the skyline and visitors are mirrored and distorted all around and below the bean-shaped oddity. Hence, the nickname The Bean.

The sculpture has appeared in many movies and music videos because of its fun and unforgettable design and underlying artistic theme. So now we get to the story Mother Goose has prepared for you today…

The sweet sister of the goose has seen this sculpture in many movies lately, and was very interested in finally seeing it in person. She told us over and over that she’d love to see the Bean as soon as possible.

When we’d finished conquering The Willis Tower, we climbed back aboard the Pink Line elevated train and looped around the city again, this time disembarking at the intersection nearest to Chicago’s Millennium Park. We strolled along the city streets for just a couple of blocks and arrived at the Michigan Avenue entrance to the park, a lovely tree-covered lane with music playing around us.

Suddenly, my sister clutches my arm! Her eyes were round as saucers and with terror in her voice, she cries out, “What is THAT?”

I look to where she is staring open-mouthed.

“What is that?” she asks again. “I see people sliding off a concrete roof or something…” Her voice trails off in bewilderment and no small level of fear.

Mother Goose looked at her sister, expecting her to be winking in merriment at the thought that she had finally arrived at the Bean, but there’s nothing but confusion and disorientation on her face.

“Honey, that’s the Bean,” I whisper to her, not wanting to upset her any further than she is already.

“Nooooo,” she speaks in hushed tones like one who is viewing an alien sight, something from a far and distant galaxy.

“Bunn, it’s the Bean! It really is!”

She shook her head in disbelief and amazement. We took her around to the plaza side of the sculpture so that she could view in in a familiar context as she had seen in the movies. THEN she was able to absorb the Bean in all its reflective and distorted glory.

We walked toward the Bean with our hands in the air so that we could spot ourselves in the very strange “Funhouse” mirror of gigantic proportions. Jessi, our experienced tourist guide, thought we should lower our hands as it appeared that we were actually worshiping the Bean.

We walked around it with all the other tourists, snapping pictures and marveling at the sculpture’s beauty and wonderful elements.

We walked under it, gazing up at the omphalos of the piece. This is very similar to a belly-button and provides multiple reflections of any subject standing directly below it. Very strange, indeed!

Most of the other tourists were touching the Bean, and there were fingerprints and hand smears everywhere on the mirror. Mother Goose wished that she had brought her Windex along so that she could clean the surface and wipe it smooth. Oddly enough, my sister refused to touch the Bean!

Most of the other tourists were having their photos taken next to the Bean — you could almost see the images flying up through the cybersphere to Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. My sister refused to get close enough for a photo opportunity. She stood at a great distance with her guard up, just in case. I was able to capture only one shot of her and The Bean together.

Bunn and The Bean

Bunn and The Bean

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After we viewed the Bean from every possible angle, we stopped for a delicious dinner at Panera and planned our next tour destination, Oak Street Beach.

Drop everything and DANCE...

Drop everything and DANCE…

Sister Goose in the City

The dear and precious sister of Mother Goose flew into town last week for a delightful visit. I have already told the story of our trip to Racine, Wisconsin to visit the “girls”. Today I will begin to tell you the story of how we conquered the whole city of Chicago all in one day.

Sister Bunn comes from the land of 10,000 lakes and ten million mosquitoes. Minnesota’s Iron Range is a beautiful and kind of interesting place to live, but there are a limited number of venues for entertainment and tourism. We have visited the sight of the Hull Rust Mine many times and it’s always wonderful, but at the end of the day, it’s really just another giant hole in the ground…

For our trip into the big city on Sunday, we consulted with my urban-savvy daughter, Jessi. She knows the train and bus routes and schedules, the ways to get around, the must-see sights and of course, how to plan a day. (Did I mention she’s getting her master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy?)

Our tourist guide is on the far right.

Our tourist guide is on the far right.

We boarded the “el” in Oak Park. The “el” is the glamorous nickname uniquely given to the elevated trains which deliver bored commuters and overly excited tourists to various places around the city of Chicago from the unusual vantage point of “above ground”.

Jessi recommended the Green Line for the start of our journey. The Chicago Transit Authority has chosen several warm and friendly colors to identify their elevated train routes: green, blue, orange, pink, red, brown, yellow and of course, purple. Thirty years ago when I was a bored commuter, the trains were not colored, but identified as “A”, “B”, “A-B”, “C”, “D”, and “AC-DC” which was most confusing to Mother Goose after she had enjoyed a couple glasses of wine…

We switched from the Green Line to the Pink Line very easily, and after a scenic loop around the city, we jumped off quite near the front doors of the Willis Tower.
Slacks

The Willis Tower was originally known as the Sears Tower, but the Sears family decided to move out to the suburbs after a couple decades of occupying this tallest building in the western hemisphere. A little side note that Mother Goose just remembered: when AnnaRose was younger, she would call it The Serious Tower… Isn’t that just cute?

Now I believe that Bruce Willis and his family live there, but they have kept The Skydeck (observation deck) on the 103rd floor open to tourists who don’t mind waiting in line for two hours to experience the most spectacular and magnificent view of the city.

We met so many people and made many friends whilst we stood in line and even rescued a baby who had lost his little yellow sock. Well, actually we just found the little sock and returned it to the baby’s family…and though they were confused about how we knew it was his sock, they were genuinely appreciative.

A few years ago when tourists complained that viewing the city from 1,353 just wasn’t all that thrilling anymore, the Willis family attached four retractable plexi-glass boxes to the western side of the Skydeck where folks can actually step out into a protected space and enjoy the view up, down and all around. Mother Goose has said for years that this kind of an experience is fine for some people, but surely not fine for her, given her irrational fear of flying out into space from any great height.

But yes, indeed, thanks to the persuasive powers of the Sister Goose, I was able to go out on The Ledge. Well, actually she pulled and pushed me out there…

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Little Goose and Sister Goose who is dabbing at her tears of joy at conquering The Ledge.

Little Goose and Sister Goose who is dabbing at her tears of joy at conquering The Ledge.

Ben Goose considering the great heights...

Ben Goose considering the great heights…

All of the offspring of the goose enjoyed this trip to the top of the city and out onto the incredible ledge. Talk about a bird’s eye view of Chicago — it was downright FOWL!

Here's the "proof" that we were actually on top of The Willis Tower.

Here’s the “proof” that we were actually on top of The Willis Tower.

Please return to the home of Mother Goose next time when we continue our story of Sister Goose in the City — you will surely smile to hear the story of Sister and The Bean.

A Sort of Feathery Love Story

In days gone by, Mother Goose was known as quite a swinger.

(For my younger readers, a swinger is defined as a person who actively seeks excitement and moves with the latest trends or one who is being modern and lively.)

Modern. Lively. Trendy. Excitement. These are all buzzwords and keywords, perhaps even synonyms for Mother Goose.

Perhaps you would only consider me an old floozy now, but in my youth I was a pretty happenin’ gal.

Can we altogether say “Woot woot”?

Let me just tell you a short story — a Valentine’s Day story from the early 80’s. The 1980’s.

Once upon a time, Mother Goose worked at a marketing agency in the great city of Chicago. She had recently moved to the Windy City of Big Shoulders from northern Minnesota with her college diploma rolled up and tucked under her arm. She was a very proud young goose to have landed such a promising position in a growing business — I mean seriously! Talk about Mary Tyler Moore dancing in downtown Minneapolis — Mother Goose had found a nesting zone right at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive with an office overlooking the Chicago River and a receptionist with big 80’s hair. Mother Goose flew regularly to NYC, NY and LA, CA to visit her clients.

What an exciting life for a country girl!

Many of the young men in the office admired Mother Goose from afar — some of them even admired her right up close in her face, maybe just a little too up close in her face. Perhaps they had never seen a goose of her stature in the mad advertising world. Perhaps they wanted to look into her sky blue Land-of-1,000-Lakes eyes. Maybe she just smelled really good and they wanted to get a good sniff.

Whatever the reason or the season, Mother Goose was quite popular and never lacked for dates or dinners. So many suitors, so little time…

One day as she strolled briskly along the Avenue, she heard a voice calling out her name.

“Miss Goose! Miss Goose! Wait just a minute for me to catch up with you!”

Mother Goose turned around to see a young man with a bushy mustache running up behind her. She recognized him as one of the most handsome young art directors from the agency. She thought for a moment to remember his name…

“Mark? You are Mark, right? How nice to see you today! Isn’t it a lovely day? Are you on your lunch break?”

Out of good-natured Minnesota habit, Mother Goose smiled at him and noticed he was carrying a red rose. “How unusual,” she mused to herself. “Here we are out walking on our lunch hours, and this fine young man is carrying a lovely rose in his hand. I wonder who the lucky lady might be…”

Shy young Mark looked down at the sidewalk and said, “Miss Goose, I wonder if you’d like to join me for a lunch today. I’m heading over to Su Casa for some authentic Mexican cuisine, perhaps a small margarita. Will you come along? Please, Miss Goose?”

How could she resist his boyish charm? But still she wondered about the rose in his hand. Perhaps someone had given it to him? Maybe he had just found it on the street and didn’t want to see it run over by a speeding car. Surely it was for his mother…

And then the mustachioed Mark dropped down on one knee right there on the boulevard and handed the beautiful red rose to Mother Goose and said with much passion and emotion, “Miss Goose, may I just say that I have admired you from afar. But starting today, I would like to call you my very own goose. I shall be your gander, and we shall travel to all four corners of the world together. Please take this rose as a sign of my undying affection for you. And I shall remain forever yours. And by the way, Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Miss Goose.”

Well, what could I say? Of course, I said “yes” to lunch. And I said “yes” to many of his other questions and invitations after that one.

Nat and Mark 1983

Some of the details of this story have been modified due to the notoriously bad memory of the goose…

Fish and Chlorine — They Don’t Mix

There’s always a lesson to be learnt, or an analogy to draw when tragedy strikes. Our first response is to ask “why”.

“Why, oh why didn’t I read the label?”

“Why didn’t I stop reading and really listen to my child?”

“Why didn’t I check the basement for water when the storm started?”

You get the picture. Yesterday, Mother Goose lost four pretty fish in the process of cleaning the family fish tank. And here’s the answer to “why”…

In our village, water comes to our homes via pipes that originate miles out into Lake Michigan. There are numerous pumping stations and processing islands out there lurking ominously and mysteriously just at the edge of the horizon. Some people in America have oil rigs and pumps in their ocean view — we have water pumping stations. I have heard it said that the water “out there” is cleaner than the water nearer to the shore of Lake Michigan. That may or may not be true.

Regardless, “they” pump the water out of the lake and send it in giant pipes under the surface of the lake. You can read all about the James W. Jardine Water Purification Plant by clicking here.

And here’s a sweet chart that explains the process:

Please remember that there’s miles between points 1 and 2.

You will not be surprised to learn that part of water purification from a lake involves adding chemicals to the water. Here is a list of chemicals that Chicago adds to its H2O every single minute of every single day in order to deliver one million gallons of clean water to its residents and suburban partners every single minute:

Chlorine: to disinfect the water.
Aluminum Sulfate or Alum and Polymer: for coagulation to settle out impurities.
Blended Polyphosphate: to coat pipes and prevent lead leaching.
Activated Carbon: to remove unpleasant tastes and odors.
Fluoride: to help fight cavities in children’s teeth.

By the way, if you are still reading along on this somewhat tedious essay, congratulations and thank you…

In reviewing the list of chemicals in my tap water, I see nothing positive in it for the fishies. Unless perhaps the fluoride would help to fight cavities in their teeth. The activated carbon would be completely unnecessary to a fish. I don’t believe that fish require aluminum sulfate, alum or polymers to settle their impurities. As far as lead leaching goes, I’m not a big fan so I don’t mind blending the polyphosphates for those nasty old pipes.

However, fish were not created to withstand the toxicity of chlorine. Please read this excerpt from a New York Department of Health report: The health effects of chlorine are primarily due to its corrosive properties. The strong oxidizing effects of chlorine cause hydrogen to split from water in moist tissue, resulting in the release of nascent oxygen and hydrogen chloride which produce corrosive tissue damage. The oxidation of chlorine may also form hypochlorous acid, which will penetrate cells and react with cytoplasmic proteins to destroy cell structure.

And that’s what happened yesterday to my beautiful Swordtail, my two Glass Catfish, and a little guy with a black triangle on each of his flanks.

And here’s the simple solution which Mother Goose accidentally and tragically forgot to add to the water in the aquarium before reintroducing the poor innocent fishies:

Such a simple solution to neutralizing tap water and making it safe for the fish.

Lesson learned.

Mental note to Mother Goose: slow down, dear. And you really don’t have to photographically capture every event for the purpose of blogging about it.

And please come back tomorrow when Mother Goose spiritualizes this tragic event into an object lesson about life in general! 🙂

Six new Blue Guaramies joined the ranks of the survivors to the fish tank of Mother Goose. Everybody is happy and healthy today…

The Golden Lady

Mother Goose and her daring companion left the “Wooded Island” with all of its many wonders and began the search for “The Golden Lady”. This statue proved to be an elusive one to locate, despite the fact that we actually had an address for it. We wandered endlessly throughout the Jackson Park area and then out of the park and into some sketchy neighborhoods, all in vain. We walked and walked until the rubbery feet of Mother Goose could barely keep slapping the pavement.

Now please be patient and quiet as we consider the background of this statue.

The statue of The Republic was the work of Daniel Chester French. During the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, it stood in the middle of the beautiful Grand Basin and the Court of Honor, facing the rising sun. She was sixty-five feet tall, towering over the gondolas and ships and people who floated about the basin and strolled the court.

She was astonishing and breathtaking in gold plating.

A famous view of the Court of Honor, the statue of The Republic and the Grand Basin. Mother Goose was not there…

Of course, after the fair was over, The White City was burned to the ground. I imagine the statue would have collapsed into the water and crumbled to mud in due course. But here’s the good news! The same sculptor remembered how he made the original statue of the Republic, and in 1918 he rebuilt her on a smaller scale (24 feet instead of 65 feet), covered her in gold again and set her up in Jackson Park, very near to where the original might have stood.

And finally Mother Goose and Husband Goose found her!

And took many pictures of her! (maybe more than you’d ever want or need to see…)

Gleaming in the setting sun, The Republic stands.

She stands much taller than this old goose.

Her back to me, she continues looking eastward, ever eastward, into the future.

The Golden Lady is a sight for sore eyes! Daniel Chester French completed this work to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fair and also the centennial of statehood for Illinois.

Of course, it’s difficult to imagine that it took us nearly an hour to find The Golden Lady. We are just gooses, after all…

I hope this trip back in time to The White City has been interesting to you, dear readers.

Please come back tomorrow for more of the adventures of Mother Goose on her summer vacation. You won’t want to miss the wombat…

Looking for The White City

Those of us who live near the great city of Chicago are bombarded daily with the reports of violent crime. With the hot summer we’ve been experiencing, it seems that the crime numbers are rising as surely as the temperature records. It’s surely a sad time for the city.

The Chicago summer of 1893 was also hot and violent. Temperatures and passions were blistering and blazing out of control. But still miracles were happening in the city — planners and builders, geniuses and scammers were all working together to create something so GREAT, so AWESOME that the world would stop and pay attention to this blustering city with big shoulders.

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a spectacular display of architecture and grandiosity in a city known for meat packing, great fires and stinking waters. Built in the middle of a swampy area just south of the city in what is now Jackson Park, it was a full-scale city built within a year of its original conception.

It was known as The White City. Built of gleaming white plaster over wooden frames, the contrast with the black, smoky buildings of Chicago was breathtaking. Millions of visitors came from around the globe to view the amazing exhibits — the busiest day of the fair was Chicago Day on October 9th when 716,881 men, women and children came through the gates. It was a record-breaking outdoor attendance day!

Of course, books have been written and websites have been built extolling the virtues and the problems of the great world fair. Mother Goose has barely poked her beak into the mountains of information and research to be consumed. But one thing is for sure — Mother Goose just had to go and see for herself this place of wonder and magic, even though (with the exception of the Palace of Fine Arts which is now the Museum of Science and Industry) it was all burned to the ground shortly after the fair closed.

The Palace of Fine Arts as it looked in The White City 1893.

The Palace of Fine Arts at the north end of the Great Lagoon which is now the Museum of Science and Industry. With a high rise behind it which was surely not there in 1893…

Mother Goose and Husband Goose pulled into the parking lot in Jackson Park just south of the lagoon. Many people were enjoying picnics, soccer games and some relaxed fishing. Of course, Mother Goose immediately ran flapping across the bridge to stand upon the “wooded island”. This place was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted to be a place of green and peaceful meditation in the midst of the craziness and “whiteness” of the surrounding buildings. His intent was for people to look across the lagoons and find soothing comfort in the shades of green and the colors of the mostly natural flowers.

The Wooded Island as it looked in 1893. By the way, Mother Goose was NOT there…

If a visitor today sees a large tree on the “wooded island”, it was presumably planted there for the eyes of the fair goers. Mother Goose found plenty of these majestic beauties. Please pretend that you are on the island with Mother Goose!

Everybody knows how tall my Husband Goose stands. Strangely enough, he is dwarfed by this giant Oak Tree on the “Wooded Island”.

Looking up and wondering about the life of this same Oak Tree.

An ancient Grandmother Willow Tree on the “Wooded Island”.

Another gnarled old Oak Tree.

There was so much to see, and the eyes of Mother Goose were indeed soothed by the sights of these trees. Please come back tomorrow when our exploration of the “Wooded Island” continues. There are some amazing surprises coming…

Irish

Today I feel it is necessary to do some “compare and contrast” in the wake of recent St. Patrick’s Day revelations. To begin, here’s a lovely poem by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939). He has been called one of the “most distinguished poets of the early twentieth century, fusing elements of his Irish heritage with a modern temperament to create moving, well-wrought verse.” Let’s just see about that, shall we?

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

It’s lovely, isn’t it? A vision of pastoral peace and splendor. Wouldn’t you love to live on Innisfree? So quiet with nothing but the lap of the water on the shore and the buzz of the honey bees and cricket songs. Yeats really is a good poet! Here’s a picture of Innisfree for you to daydream over:

"I will arise and go now..."

And now we shall compare and contrast Yeats vision of being Irish to the modern Irish dream (at least as it manifests here in the City of Big Shoulders). Instead of a lovely lake with a wooded and secluded island, we have a nice green river.

Emerald green Chicago River with Wendella Boat near the DuSable Bridge (Michigan Avenue) on St. Patrick's Day 2012.

He talks of a small clay cabin — we have some mighty fine skyscrapers here.

How nice that Yeats will plant nine rows of beans! In Chicago, we neatly pile our garbage near the proper receptacles.

Chicagoan are a tidy lot, especially on Irish holidays.

He will have a hive for the honey bee. And we have a honey of a statue.

Our giant Marilyn.

The midnight’s on Innisfree are all a glimmer — our Trump Tower glimmers too.

In honor of The Donald

Yeats speaks of linnet’s wings; they are sweet little finchy birds with pretty songs, mostly brown but with patches of red on their heads and breasts. In Chicago, we have a lot of chicks with green feathers.

A poet may be able to live alone in a bee-loud glade, but here in our town, folks fall in love and propose marriage even in the midst of the madding crowd. And that’s a blessing!

"Will you be my wife?" I had tears streaming down my feathery cheeks!

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