My childhood was spent outside. Growing up on a small farm had its challenges, but it also allowed me the freedom to wander the woods and experience nature.
As an adult, even before this pandemic started and stay-at-home orders were issued, I had difficulties making time to explore nature. Last year, I was marginally better — and I made time for a few outdoor excursions.
One of my favorite places to visit is the LaBagh Woods. Located on the North Side of the city, near the Jefferson Park neighborhood, is a wonderful mixture of woodland and low-lying wetlands. The North Branch of the Chicago River runs through the area, helping to form an oxbow slough — a swamp or shallow lake system, usually a backwater to a larger body of water.
On a fabulous July afternoon — a Monday, to be more precise — I planned a trip to explore the woods. My timing was effective, as I was able to enjoy the environment without too many people around. While I was there, I found a black swallowtail butterfly enjoying the nectar of some common milkweed, and a green darner (dragonfly) relaxing near the river.
I’m particularly fond of trail and canopy views! While hiking, I like to stop and look up, and behind me — retracing my steps in a slightly different manner to see what I missed. For me, this is a great way to slow down and take in the experience.
When this quarantine is over, and we can relax our social distancing policies a bit, I’m very much looking forward to a long walk through nature.