Tag: Lincoln Park


By Mike Traynor

Spring is in full swing and doing its usual fine job of bringing new life into a world eager for renewal.  Before racing headlong into summer, let’s keep attuned to the season’s big finale. Memorial Day is often viewed as the onset of summer, when three more weeks of spring await through the summer solstice on June 20th.  That marks the longest day of the year. What delights lie ahead in these final weeks?? For a sneak peek, these photos were taken in  Lincoln Park over the final spring weeks of 2020.  Stay tuned for the big finish! Light is reaching its zenith, and new life is renewing the earth.


Newborn barn swallows emerge from their nests, soar over open waters, and perch to ponder the curious habits of the human visitors. 

Turtles seek any spare place on this log to bask in the sun’s warming rays. It is a first-come, first-served reservation system, with no attention paid to proper social distancing.  Shocking.

Peonies mean spring.  Best to admire their heavy blossoms before soaking spring showers send blossoms earthward.  Peonies really should grow umbrellas to cover themselves.

These are snowballs. Spring’s version of a snowball is a more hospitable and civilized way to experience a snowball impact than the kind one receives in winter. 

It is the perfect sunbather — head pointed toward heaven, neck extended, shell lifted and balanced upward, and all four legs stretched out and up.  It is a wonder that the turtle does not roll right off that log. Must have a good personal trainer.

A beave –damn!  If you see a brush pile in Lincoln Park, the chances are that a beaver family has moved in.  Lincoln Park real estate is expensive, and beavers are skilled at creating affordable housing in such affluent communities.  

This little bunny is perfectly still, blended, and totally attuned to its environment. It is a good model for us on how to appreciate each and every moment of spring. 

Mother heron just arrived from foraging to feed her hungry, noisy brood.  Soon the youngsters leave for nearby waters for lessons on flying, fishing, safety, and health. There are far more teachers and students in Lincoln Park than those that come from Latin School.  

Bright day lilies are the last blooming flowers of spring, handing off the baton to the summer season ahead.

Spring has rich greenery. The dominant greens are of a  tender pale and delicate color, soon turning deep and lush as summer beckons. 

This squirrel has buns of steel! After a season of nest building, foraging, and raising offspring, you, too, would get muscular thighs.  No health club membership is needed for this squirrel to stay in shape.

Intense spring rain and thunderstorms bring fearsome skies. This momentous skyline evidences the powerful forces of growth happening at ground level.

Every season has a sunset.  Spring’s sunset evokes gratitude for its coming, keen awareness of its present, and appreciation for the seasons to come.  Spring’s farewell message is to appreciate the ensuing seasons until spring comes again fully. 

Signs of Spring

By Mike Traynor


We were barreling headlong toward an early spring until an unwelcome inconvenience, commonly known as February, intervened to slow our momentum. Since we Chicagoans are long accustomed to meteorological suffering and betrayal, we took that setback (mostly) in stride.  Sights are now set for March 20, at 3:37 AM CST – the Spring Equinox — when nature explodes outward, saying “ta-daa”!  In northern climes, this is a season representing new life and renewal. It brings renewing warmth, light, growth, change, and even hope.  We bipedal creatures naturally focus on our own species’ spring antics, yet there is so much more underway just beyond our doorstep.  As life quickens, try to set aside quiet time to marvel at the antics of all the creatures around you.  That might prompt a deeper understanding of new ways to find growth and renewal in your own life.  At a minimum, you are certain to find joy waiting for you.

Here are some photos of what may be waiting for you. These photos were all taken in Lincoln Park in April and May of 2020. They will all be back very soon now.  No further meteorological suffering and betrayal will dare slow us down again!  Then again, since we do live in Chicago, don’t quote me on that.  Happy Spring!




Mom has her baby firmly gripped as she carries the kid out of the hollow tree nest where it was born, up to the treetop’s elevated nest. Time for Mom to give flying lessons!  She carried three baby squirrels out of that hollow and up the tree in rapid succession.


Black-crowned night herons are rare, and yet Lincoln Park is full of them. After a stay near the waters for rest upon arrival in the area, they build nests high up in tall trees to bear their young. The youngsters are very noisy!  This parent is taking off from its nest, showing a full wingspan.  I think it is going to get earplugs.


It looks as if cardinals must have first learned to fly by watching the motion of airplane propellers. Or could it be the other way around? Either way, this cardinal is showing expert aerodynamics.


This is the Methuselah of pond turtles.  It is enormous. At its age and girth, it can do pretty much whatever it wants, as long as it does things slowly.


“Birds do it, bees do it, gotta feeling even fish do it…”  Let’s be honest. Have you ever really seen a fish “do it”? Now you have.  This photo is PG-rated.


Mother robin thought she found a very secure nest. Little did she know it was at nearly eye level in a public gazebo. Despite the odds, all ended well and chicks flew off for a new life in a new world.  Welcome to Earth kids!  Personally, I have found Earth to be my favorite planet so far. 


Imagine the warmth of lying under a “goose down comforter”.  These goslings need no imagination to feel that. Momma goose spreads her personal down comforter over perhaps 25 or 30 newborn goslings curled up under her wings. You would not believe so many goslings could fit until they all decided to scatter. Then Mom looks like she is exploding out in every direction.  


Here is a sitting duck – literally. This photo was taken with the camera about six inches from the duck’s beak. The duck sat unperturbed, offered a world-weary glance, and asked why the bipeds just cannot stop taking pictures of it?




Happy New Year: Spring’s Not So Far Away

By Michael Traynor


“O, Wind. If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

If Percy Shelly had lived in Chicago, we all could have answered him immediately. Of course Spring can be far behind! It can be really far behind, you naive romantic poet! No wonder you died young. You should have worn a heavier winter coat!

In Chicago we need binoculars, a magnifying glass, and ample patience to catch first glimpses of spring. Here are some of the “first glimpses” seen in 2020 Chicago. All emerged just prior to the March pandemic “shutdown”. Spring however did not shut down, and the pure moments of joy that came from experiencing moments like these continued on into the year unabated. They await us in 2021. Just stop for a moment once in a while, look, listen, and then behold. Happy New Year!

March 8 (11:53am CST exactly): This first Scilla of spring popped out and shouted “ta-daaa!” near the Conservatory. Look for them first where the angle and heat of early March sun focus intensely.



March 11: Light puffy mounds of snowdrops begin carpeting the barren earth. The center of the mound is slightly elevated, and snowdrops lazily drape downward amidst still dormant trees.



March 12: The first black-crowned night heron of spring flies in, alights at the north pond, and is greeted by a welcoming round of applause rising up from every park denizen. The breeding cycle of new life begins.



March 13: One solitary purple crocus springs forth in a remote, untended corner of the park. It is one plucky crocus to have emerged there at all, let alone be first. It must be a labor of love. A love to shine, to shine for us.



Michael Traynor’s photo essay is the first of four views of the changing seasons at Lincoln Park.