In the week since I last posted, we have experienced temperatures ranging from the high twenties to the mid-seventies. Today, temps may reach eighty. Spring in northern Illinois is usually brief and not always beautiful, but this is one of the briefest and ugliest I’ve seen. Excessively dry, the ground has stingily offered wan blooms and pale grass. As if incredibly perplexed, the trees and bushes have budded with what can only be described as reluctance. It is 10 a.m. on May 1, and the thermometer in the shade already reads 71 degrees. If I am accorded an average life expectancy, I will see two dozen or so more springs. Is it wrong to wish that they were lush, flower-filled seasons colored daily by butter-yellow sunshine and clear, blue skies and fueled nightly by cool, gentle rains?
Regardless of spring’s length or appearance in any given year, it’s arrival coincides with the arrival of birthday gift cards from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and books make everything better. My haul this year is pictured above.
Yesterday we visited the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Norebaert Nature Museum before heading to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for Red Velvet.
explores the ways in which botanists and entomologists worked in tandem with artists to record and disseminate knowledge in the early modern period (1500–1800).” This Krannert Art Museum exhibit
runs through December 22.
Before pouring my first mug of coffee this morning, I caught a glimpse of a female ruby-throated hummingbird visiting the hanging plants in the front yard. I had time to whisper, “Hummingbird!” twice, to alert my daughters, before she darted away. Ordinarily, the hummingbirds are attracted to the plant pictured above. It hangs near a window in the back of the house and appeals to many backyard visitors, including spicebush swallowtail butterflies.
Did you watch?
My youngest fashioned pinhole projectors from recyclables, and we safely viewed the phenomena between lunch and shopping. Yesterday’s errand list filled a page, but we didn’t want to miss the event. I had purchased glasses for all of us from Celestron but, erring on the side of (extreme) caution, we contented ourselves with “science in a cereal box.” Pretty cool.
Not so cool? How (very, very) swiftly the last fifteen weeks passed: My daughters are preparing for their return to university, and I am wondering how my heart can feel as if it is both bursting with proud excitement and breaking into ten thousand shards.
From Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study:
In my belief, there are two and only two occupations for Saturday [or Sunday] afternoon or forenoon for a teacher. One is to be out-of-doors and the other is to lie in bed, and the first is best. Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care.
The temperatures have been so unlike-August that we decided to give the bikes a rest this weekend and head to a new-to-us conservation area for a hike and a geocaching adventure. What a terrific morning! We logged our seventeenth cache (the seventh of fifteen required for a challenge in which we’re participating).
Earlier this week, we celebrated Herman Melville’s 198th birthday by seeing Moby Dick at the Lookingglass. We first saw this gorgeous production in 2015, when Christopher Donahue dazzled as Ahab. Jamie Abelson offers a more restrained portrayal of the monomaniac, but we appreciated his interpretation. Moby Dick runs through September 3. If possible, do not miss this one.
Speaking of missing theatrical events, only one other patron joined us for the National Theatre Live broadcast of Angels in America Part One: Millennium on July 20; we had the theater all to ourselves a week later for Part Two: Perestroika. Sure, the length of these productions — approximately eight hours including intervals over two evenings — is wildly indulgent, and the Fandango tickets were outrageously priced. But wow. What terrific performances, particularly Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter and Denise Gough as Harper Pitt. If Angels is rebroadcast, consider it a good use of your time and treasure.
Other items in the “recently seen” category: I finally saw the last episode and a half of The Handmaid’s Tale. Brilliant. This is one of those rare occasions on which I will assert that the screen adaptation is as good as, if not better than, the book. I also saw and enjoyed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 10 Cloverfield Lane, fun, summer-evening films.
Bookish bits next time.