Above Medinah Temple

From above the Medinah Temple (Credit: Celia Her City)

Drove to Nordstrom’s the other day and had a hard time finding a parking spot in its deck.  I finally found something at the very top, but it was good luck! because I was treated to this marvelous view.  The dome and minarets are those of the old Medinah Temple.  It used to belong to the Shriners.  The circus was held there every year.  Now (after a complete overhaul inside) it houses the Bloomingdale’s Home Store.  Beyond it is a rooftop garden I never knew existed.

Mature rooftop garden (Credit: Celia Her City)

Judging from the size of the trees, it’s been in existence for many years.  This garden sits atop a big parking deck.  Note the lampposts and hardscaping.  A glimpse of the pool.  It’s pretty classy.

Click images to enlarge.

Where to begin

On the road: Pennsylvania

Last Tuesday, I voted when the polls opened, then got in the car and drove off alone to Pennsylvania.  My father was pretty sick and might have died, but he pulled through, recovering from a risky emergency operation.

I was glad I could be with my parents.  My sister from Boston came down and was magnificent when More

A glimpse of the promised land

Where space is tight (Credit: Celia Her City)

The hi-rise I live in was designed in the 1920s by a Russian-born architect who did not envision how important cars would become.  The building with 24 units has space for just 19 cars in its garage.

This in a neighborhood where, today, couples are rumored to break up over . . . parking.  That’s how tough finding a street spot can be.

We knew when we bought here that the wait for a garage space would be 5 to 10 years.  That was back in 2006.  Our hopes rose in 2008 when a number of units went up for sale—but then real estate slowed with the economic crisis.

Meanwhile we pay to park our car at a garage a block away.  Every morning we go there to collect the car, bring it back to our garage (where we’re allowed to park during the day), and return it to its paid spot at night—arrangements that weigh down everyday chores like grocery shopping or the fun of going out impulsively at night.

On the upside, we’ve become less car-reliant.  We take mass transit, walk if we can, grab a cab if we must.  Over time, these ways have come to seem natural.  Having a spot in our own garage—now that will be strange.

Native riot

The scrubby banks of the Lily Pond flaunting fall color (Credit: Celia Her City)

The most astonishing display of fall color I saw was by the lily pond right here in the city.  For years now, the people who run the parks have been working to reestablish native plants and habitats there.  The efforts are paying off handsomely.  The seemingly untended banks of the lily pond host native plants whose colors flame luridly as they begin to change.

The understory at the Lily Pond changing color (Credit: Celia Her City)

The colors of this bank astonished me.  The more I looked, the more I saw.  Much of the brilliance came from the sumac, whose rainbow-like fronds sported shades of hot pink, orange, green, and dusty lavender, as well as many colors in between.

Sumac and other native plants around the Lily Pond (Credit: Celia Her City)

This ubiquitous prairie plant, long scorned and excoriated, is making a comeback, as urban gardeners rediscover its great tonal and sculptural beauty.  Besides its amazing palette, the mature tree has a nice shape and velvety maroon “staghorns” on which birds like to feed.

Foliage around the rocky ledges of the Lily Pond (Credit: Celia Her City)

I like the way the staghorns clustered around the rocky ledges, combining with sugar maples and clumps of dusty prairie wildflowers going to seed.

Click on pictures to see them in isolation against a black ground.

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