I am among the world’s most fortunate people. I can travel, though if I want to, I can stay home. I am warm, dry, and fed. My life is not threatened. I am retired and on a fixed income, but I have more than enough.
As I was about to embark on this post, focusing most of my energy on how cold I feel now that we are back in the Chicago area, I realized that my gripes are awfully small when compared to the rest of the world. If you are thinking about this, too, please consider donating to any charity that will help people suffering elsewhere in the world. We favor Doctors Without Borders, CARE, and the International Red Cross, but there are many groups doing good. You may know of one.
Yes, we are back in the Chicago suburbs, in the house we stayed in exactly two years ago on our return from Peru when Jonathan broke his shoulder. His shoulder brought us back this time, too. It’s been bothering him, and we believed he would need replacement surgery. Nothing is simple, however, and the surgeon he consulted advised against a replacement for a number of reasons. A cortisone injection decreased the pain Jonathan has been feeling, and increased his mobility. For the present, that is enough.
We’ve chased summer around the world since 2014, but winter finally caught up to us here, with temperatures in the teens last week, and in the 20s this week. After years in warmer climes, I seem to have trouble warming up, and my fingers and toes get sooooo cold!
Regulars to this blog know we normally spend an hour or two outdoors every day. Determined to get outdoors, I bundled up, added multiple layers everywhere, bought gloves (my NZ merino/possum gloves wore out completely), and off we went. We started with a short walk around the neighborhood, then we strolled a section of the nearby the Prairie Path. The birds never let us down, and we even saw a flock redpolls (that we’ve never seen in the US before).
We returned to one of our favorite parks, Churchill Woods. There are always birds, and even on the coldest day, we saw a pair of hawks circling in the frigid air. We spotted a muskrat, which we only recognized because another walker explained the difference between a muskrat (narrow tail) and a beaver (wide tail). There is a beautiful beaver lodge along the river at Churchill Woods. Many beaver dams are considered nuisances because they cause flooding, but this lodge is positioned where any associated dam is unlikely to flood anything new.
These familiar stomping grounds give us a deep pleasure. We like the birds, the animals, our fellow walkers. There’s no high speed trail through here. Most walkers are out for a breath of air, or with their dog. For a few minutes, at least, I’m distracted from the cold by the beauty of nature.