Tag: Spring


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. 

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.


Spring Comes to Chicago: An Essay

John Simonds and Mary Jo Field with Bianca.








Spring comes to Chicago like a petulant child told to eat its broccoli.

We sit ceaselessly in of front our gas fireplace waiting for a spring that never seems to arrive, like we have been condemned to do penitence for undisclosed sins. It’s May 3rd and the temperature is 38 degrees, for Pete’s sake.

I am not a climate-change denier, but I see no evidence that the earth is getting warmer if you have to walk your dog three times a day, something I do out of misplaced love for my dog Bianca.

I checked it: officially spring arrived on time this year. The sun crossed the equator on March 20, heralding the arrival of the new season. Unfortunately, Chicago did not get the memo—it failed to set the alarm so that when we returned from Mexico on April 6th, everyone in our Near North neighborhood was wearing L.L. Bean parkas and wool scarfs. That is except those beautiful bodies that flash by on their way to the East Bank Club wearing tights and form-fitting shirts with a Nike logo and running shoes that glow in the dark. I am jealous.

I tell myself that it is time to get back to the gym to start getting in shape before summer comes or I have a heart attack, whichever comes first.

The new upscale playground in Montgomery Park is like a ghost town—with the wind howling at 18 miles per hour, no one ventures into the park, and the nannies, pushing their baby carriages, simply pass by in silence. One carriage was all zipped up and a guy who looked like an unreconstructed hippy was pushing it. Inside sat his cat, perfectly contented.

A truck arrived and four Mexican immigrants emerged and started putting fragrant compost around the trees and shrubs along the River Walk on Kingsbury, a sign of things to come, I prayed. Across the street a small plot planted with brightly colored tulips stands defiantly against the arctic wind.

Before I can file a complaint with our embattled mayor, the miracle of spring arrived on the wings of an angel named Hope. It was May 5th and the temperature soared to 58 degrees; young people sun bathed on the lawn in the park, the birds started chirping and strains of the Halleluiah Chorus could be heard in the distance.

Around the corner at the Erie Café the padlocks came off the furniture on the terrace and the waiters in long white aprons carry drinks on trays raised above their heads, and a group of men gather at a corner table to smoke cigars. Next door at the playground, children play chase and scream with joy, as a newly born flock of geese plied the river below.