Notebaert Nature Museum

The winter farmers’ market

The winter farmers’ market

In the off-season, the Green City market held during the summer months on Saturdays in Lincoln Park moves indoors to the Nature Museum.  My friend K. has been singing its praises, so, on the strength of her enthusiasm, I decided to go.  My sister-in-law, who’s visiting this weekend, agreed to go with me, so we piled on our coats and scarfs and headed off, armed with umbrellas to ward off the wet snow that was falling.

Nichols staff and stand, © 2013 Celia Her City

The museum provided a perfect setting for the market—open and airy.   About twenty vendors occupied the lobby atrium and space on the second floor of the building.  Compared to the dozens and dozens of vendors at the summer market, this pared-down version had a cozy feel.

Offerings at the market included potatoes, radishes, beets, dried beans, mushrooms, salad greens, baked goods, specialty canned goods, cheeses, salsas, freshly made pasta, pesto, and meats.  There were also house plants, a few cut flowers (e.g., tulips, which are just beginning to come in), and forced bulbs like the amaryllis above.  My purchases included a package of freshly made raw pizza dough, several blocks of tasty artisanal Wisconsin cheeses, and new potatoes.

Shoppers at Chicago's indoor farmers' market, © 2013 Celia Her City

One of the great features of any market is the people-watching, and the sociability intrinsic to this form of shopping.  I loved talking to the vendors and being part of this crowd, on the prowl with their children, their morning coffee, and their shopping bags.  Muffins, freshly made grilled-cheese sandwiches, hot soup and pizza (not to mention free food samples) were on offer for shoppers in need of quick fortification.

It will be fun to go back to the market in a few weeks, when there’s likely to be an explosion of early-spring offerings, like spinach, peas, maybe even morels—not to mention flowers like hyacinths and daffodils!  What a great way to celebrate the season of spring!

Winter palette

Winter Palette (Diversey Harbor)

Does the palette of winter appeal to you?  I confess to liking the monochromatic color scheme that takes over on cloudy days, simplifying the views.  I wandered around the other morning, visiting some of my favorite haunts, appreciating the beiges and greys, the patterns that pop out without being pretty.  Across the expanse of Diversey Harbor, the blue door of a boathouse virtually screamed at me.

Sycamore trees near Diversey Harbor, Chicago (Credit: Celia Her City)

Along the edges of the harbor, the nervous energy of the sycamores was on exhibit.

Nervousness on a higher plane (Credit: Celia Her City)

What crazy trees!  I love how their twigs grow out every which way in exuberant spurs, something that in the summer you cannot see.  Though, with their spotted bark, they seem always to be having the come-aparts, these native trees are stylish and imposing; hardy, too.

Will the crooked prevail?  (Credit: Celia Her City)

A hard freeze has finally taken hold at the lagoon, where the water level must be at a historical low.  With the snow, the precarious state of the lagoon’s walls can be appreciated fully.  I marvel that elderly fishermen dare to cycle over this path all summer.  Here, as with so much else in Chicago, it’s an open question whether the crooked shall prevail. . . . I try to imagine how we will ever fix these walls. . . .

The snowy path along the Nature Museum, Chicago (Credit: Celia Her City)

Except for the distant high-rises, the park looked outright bucolic around the Nature Museum, the snow setting off every detail of the prairie natives and split-rails.  Check out the dark rusty and gold colors of the resting prairie.


The North Pond‘s paths are deserted at last.  Inhospitable conditions have temporarily discouraged all the runners, cyclists, power-walkers, dogs, stroller-pushers, and geese.  I have seen coyotes on the frozen pond around here, but this morning I didn’t see any.  I alone enjoyed the chiaroscuro of the gnarly old trees.

Lakeview townhouses by David Adler (Credit: Celia Her City)

Leaving the park, I found myself back in “civilization,” my frozen tread accelerating past all the nice houses and high-rises that line the park along Lakeview.  I had to stop to admire the beautiful Adler townhouses, though, with their peach and yellow columns and the reddish-grey twigs of the serviceberries setting them off, just so.

Click the images to enlarge.

Sweet new sculpture

Sweet new sculpture

This marvelous sculpture has just appeared in Lincoln Park.  It’s a life-size buffalo that you can see from your car when you’re stuck on Cannon Drive waiting for the light to change near the nature museum.  I walked by the other day to get a closer look.  The thing is magnificent—so true to life, yet appealing as art because of the sculptor’s masterful use of oxidized steel.

The artist is Chris Williams of Massachusetts.  The piece was made in 1999 for a couple who subsequently bequeathed it to the Notebaert.  It’s an instant hit that you just have to touch.