It’s supposed to be the owl of wisdom dramatically bestowing books, and hence learning, upon humanity. Instead, the decoration atop the Harold Washington Public Library Center is simply scary. Squint, and you’ll see a scaly, beady-eyed creature presiding over the scene, keeping a watchful eye out for miscreants and deterring any Chicagoan with a foolish impulse to read.
The city is always building, leading to the complex vista that Celia, commuting, sees daily: the buildings, bridges, and balustrades rimming the River, offering a pleasing spectacle to the passing trains. Cars, trains, boats, and pedestrians pass distractedly through a landscape that’s the work of many decades and thousands upon thousands of laborers’ hands.
The repair barge in the river, for fixing the bridge, is fleeting evidence of all that goes in to making this the home that we know.
On this, the first day of spring, bitter cold grips Chicago. The sun shines through a fierce wind, giving a false impression of a jaunty scene. In truth, we are barely holding together, much like the Hancock, which, to Celia’s wind-raked eyes, looks surprisingly flimsy, its sloping faces held together with a web, too carelessly strung.
My dentist has moved his office from a dismal space in McClurg Court to Michigan Avenue, right across from the Intercontinental Chicago Hotel. From his windows, you can see the Intercontinental’s facade, which is almost impossible to see from the street.
What an odd and beautiful building! One of the city’s great stone-clad skyscrapers, it was designed in the late 20s, in the Art Deco style with Assyrian motifs. I love the rope carving highlighting the windows.
The bas-relief shows some sort of procession, with subjects bringing tributes to a king. There are lawgivers and hooded figures, trumpeters and archers, soldiers and gods, bulls and wheat, cities and spread-eagles, all jammed into one.
It sure brings a touch of exoticism to a Midwestern town.
Have you ever been nostalgic for a particular moment in the life of a plant?
Before I met my husband, I lived by myself in a flat with all my old family furniture and not much else. I did, however, have a few houseplants, including this beefsteak begonia that my mother gave me.
The beefsteak begonia is an easy-care plant, with round, dark, glossy, thick-veined leaves. It likes indirect light and tolerates neglect. It tells you it needs water by drooping its leaves. For many months, it sat on the same table, while I did the minimum.
Then one year it bloomed. It put forth the dramatic spires you see, with many complex blossoms dangling from its branches like delicate charms.
I still have this plant, and it is still one of my favorites, but it has never bloomed subsequently.
My mother says the key is not to turn the plant but to leave it in exactly the same place.
I’m glad I took these pictures with my cell phone back in 2009.
Rush-hour traffic snakes along the Chicago River. Rain and mist dim down the city, reducing movement to a crawl. How long will we be? With each breath of the bus’s sodden passengers, its windows steam. The compass-point of the Wrigley Building bleeds into the general gray, seeming to recede. The Trump Tower does its Flatiron impersonation.