The Scientist and I have come to the “Windy City,” he to present at his annual professional conference, and me to take in the art, architecture, sights and sounds of an iconic American Great Lakes city. Having been born in another of those cities, Buffalo, NY, I am nostalgic for the scent and vistas of lake and river waters which for me bear no resemblance to those in Alberta. (I do concede a special and unique beauty for the mountain lakes and streams in Jasper and Banff.)
The Fair Weather Goddess is smiling favourably upon us. We arrived on time, after torrential downpours flooded roads, parks and golf courses and cancelled or re-routed many of yesterday’s flights into O’Hare. Morning fog, seen from our lake view room, burned off leaving blue skies, cooler temperatures and no humidity. We cut short the tourist’s “de rigeur” Grayline bus tour after two hours of seeing some of Chicago’s South Loop and near south highlights: Millenium Park, Chinatown, the University of Chicago campus, the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum and the heavily secured residence of President Obama. We’ll do the North Side later in the week, when we need the air conditioning to offset the predictable return of humidity.
While the Scientist walked down to Navy Pier to scope out the conference venue, I took in the river. For nearly half of my life, the river was a constant part of both my literal sight line and internal perspective and orientation, much taken for granted. Now I can never get enough of its particular ambiance, rhythm, flow and gifts, real and metaphoric. It is a deep part of my being.
After an hour or so of easy people watching, playing with the my new camera, and reading, I became alert to the side of a passing bus which read “Life is magical.” Recalling Mary Oliver reciting one of her poems on “my” radio program: “To pay attention…this is our endless and proper work,” I wondered what gifts the river would offer if I paid proper attention.
Capturing, in order the names of the sightseeing boats and bus ads (in italics below), I was rewarded:
“Life is magical,” said the Skyline Queen to the Skyline Princess. “A Chicago Classic Coach is transformed into a Voyageur, in a Vamos and blink of an eye. The Sun Dancer, by day a Sea Celebrity, reveals her true self, the Evening Star.” “Sea Me Now,” beckons Chicago’s Fair Lady, “ a Bright Star, Innisfree… I learn To Go with the Flow, Lickety Split.”