My Kind of Town

Ok, so Frank Sinatra said it first, but…. Chicago really is… I’ve been going several times a year for about the last seven. It started in 2011 with a photography exhibit: Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer at the Chicago Cultural Center. I don’t remember how I first learned of Vivan Maier, but I sure wanted to see this exhibit, which was the first of her work in her hometown. So I talked an opera buff friend into going with me. Lyric Opera was performing Lohengrin at Civic Opera House on Wacker Dr., and that was enough to get him…

Eco-harmony

So… one more story from Costa Rica. We spent a day on the Sierpe River. I’m sure I mentioned that before. And in addition to many species of birds and dozens of squirrel monkeys swinging through the trees, we saw plants. Of course we saw plants! Costa Rica is an awesomely verdant country. I could go back and spend a week just learning about the plants! But the day we spent on the Sierpe River, I saw one I recognized. Instantly. It was a patch of water hyacinth, and I recognized it instantly because in Louisiana, water hyacinth–however beautiful–is a…

Symbiosis

“See this hole?” Diego asks, pointing to a spot on the trunk of the tree just over his head. “It’s where the ants come and go.” I had noticed the trees from the first day in Costa Rica. They have flat gray bark and rings up and down their trunks and limbs. But the leaves… What beautiful amazing leaves! I could not resist turning my lens to the leaves. The locals call them “trumpet” trees. I would call them “umbrella” trees. In a sudden tropical rainstorm, one could do way worse than to take refuge under a Cecropia tree. I…

Day 6: Gimme Shelter

We stepped off the stern of the boat into crotch-deep water and waded to the black sand beach. There we were greeted by Sweetie, a lively spider monkey and ambassador-in-chief for the Osa Wildlife Sanctuary. Sweetie was 4 days old when a poacher shot her mother, intending to snatch Sweetie for the illegal pet trade. But Sweetie hit a branch as she fell, clinging to her dead mother, and began to scream. The poachers fled, leaving her to die. Today, Sweetie is part of a troop of black-handed spider monkeys that roam the Sanctuary. Every animal at the Sanctuary has…

Day 5: High drama…

…on the Sierpe River. But first, “Sierpe” is derived from the Spanish “serpiente,” meaning “serpent.” It is a tidal river, and I remember being impressed by its magnificent coils seen from the prop plane that brought me to the Osa Peninsula. On this, our penultimate day here, Captain Carlos maneuvers our pontoon boat up the river a few yards from shore. Both he and Diego, our guide, keep their eyes peeled for wildlife–birds of many stripes, iguanas, crocodiles–feeding and basking along the banks of the river. We look, too, of course, but aren’t nearly as skilled at spotting critters! “Baby…