I told J this Will County Forest Preserve District program at Monee Reservoir sounded crunchy; I don’t think he quite got it.
I met him at the University Park Metra station, which is not that far north from Monee. For me, it was brutally sunny and hot, but at least I made it through the first part of the program. I had to pass on the second half, a jaunt to another bridge that wasn’t even that far away. At the first, the kids found enough dragonfly and damselfly larvae and other pond critters to keep them engaged for an hour or more, and I wandered off to see what was on the other side (dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, one elusive Hemaris thysbe moth).
Despite my dropping out partway through, the leader was kind enough to give us ice cream sandwiches. He spent a lot of time answering my questions and showing me illustrative photos. By the time we left the building, where the air conditioning had failed a couple of days earlier, clouds had gathered and the temperature had dropped.
Monee’s not a big town but we found a great cheese and fruit plate, beer, and a light dinner at Labas Latte & Vino. And so back to reality . . . but at least I don’t have to live on 300 mosquitoes an hour.
Before the tornado warnings started and the tornado sirens went off, I went for a morning bike ride, when it was still a sunny, pleasant, even perfect spring day. My main objective was lilac bushes. I love the scent of lilacs. They remind me of home, probably because a couple of lilac bushes at the front of the trailer park bloomed a few years.
When I got there, someone walking toward me caused a mini-swarm of insects to rise — many of them butterflies. Red admirals, American and possibly painted ladies, monarchs — well, one monarch, anyway. I managed to take some photos, although they were skittish, and I didn’t want to disrupt their breakfast too much — they must have tremendous energy needs just now.
1 Per Wikipedia:
It [red admiral] is known as an unusually people-friendly butterfly, often landing on and using humans as perches.
I suppose most people go to national parks to get away from it all. To leave the world they know behind. This kind of escape is available at our newest national park. But there is something else. Something I think my friend was alluding to. You don’t get away from it all at the Indiana Dunes National Park the way you might at Yosemite or Yellowstone. In fact, you come up against it. This national park, you realize, is actually a last line of resistance, a green and blue membrane holding back the accumulated pressure human will has piled on the earth and insisted was progress.