Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring Is Here...
...Time To Explore Chicago

This morning I contemplated building an ark and gathering animals two by two, but by late morning the rains had subsided and the temperatures began to climb. Despite a few downpours, the last few days have been quite pleasant and signs of spring abound. The crocuses are starting to wane, but the snow drops and daffodils are starting to bloom. 

Daffodils  (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved
Snowdrops (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I even was treated to these early blooming miniature irises on one of my walks this weekend!

Miniature Iris (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

There are also signs of Spring in the built environment. I walked into Andersonville this afternoon and saw my first paleta vendor of the season. Paletas are Mexican style popsicles. They come in almost any flavor you can imagine, and probably some that never would've occurred to you!  In the warmer months pushcarts and bicycle carts filled with these delicious, frozen confections can be spotted along Chicago's beaches and in any neighborhood with an appreciable Latin American population.  

Another sign of spring: the fountain on the northern edge of Andersonville was happily bubbling, and the gardens, urns, and the Gethsemane Garden Center were all bursting with color from pansies and other hardy annuals.

Andersonville Fountain (c) 2013 Eric E. Paige, All Rights Reserved

I love this time of year for exploring the city. The quality of the light is wonderful for picture taking, and it's nice to be free of the heavy, winter jacket.  I've been wanting to get to know my city better, so I recently purchased a deck of cards printed with walking tours of Chicago neighborhoods.  

City Walks Chicago
Text by Christina Henry de Tessan
Maps by Bart Wright
Published by Chronicle Books
ISBN-13 978-0-8118-5558-7

Each card has a map and directions to tour part of a Chicago neighborhood. The tours highlight points of interest (not just historic sites, but also shopping and eating opportunities). Sunday was beautiful so I decided to break the deck in by doing the Old Town Triangle walk. This is a beautiful area of the city with a variety of architecture styles. Among other things, I saw one of the last surviving fire-relief cottages built after the Great Chicago Fire.  I am still sorting through the images, but will post the photos later this week.

Today, I a found another great resource for exploing Chicago, only from a culinary perspective. As you may have noticed, photography and food are among my addictions.  I found this book at a Goodwill store today (a true bargain at only 89 cents, though I'd recommend it, even at its full price), 

"A Cook's Guide to Chicago by Marilyn Pocius
Published by Lake Claremont Press
ISBN 1-893121-16-X
The book is a great guide to the various ethnic foods available in Chicago, and includes a directory of stores, a top 10 list of ingredients for each culture, and though it is not primarily a cookbook, there are some great recipes.  Look for future blog posts about my culinary exploits as I tour the globe, without having to leave Chicago!

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