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Sunday
Jul172011

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool: A Sunday afternoon in Lincoln Park

After 18 years of living in Chicago, I'd still never explored the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.  I decided to do something about it, spending a sweltering Sunday afternoon wandering around the pool and its Lincoln Park environs.

I found the entranceway to the lily pool on Fullerton.  It has a bit of a "secret doorway" feel.  I happened to know that the lily pool is one of Roger Ebert's favorite places to walk in Chicago and that it's precisely that "tucked away," "secret pocket" quality that he likes.  Since Ebert was the writer who first showed me the door opening onto a wonderland of film--of Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, etc.--it's fitting that his writing led me to this secret garden as well. 

 

I stowed the iPod and strolled in.  I heard the trickle of a gentle waterfall.  Then my eye took in the beauty of the lily pool and I felt the city slip away as I began to stroll. 

 

Wind rustled softly in the trees.  Birds chirped.  I found an outcrop of rock in the shade and sat gazing over the pool and the surrounding woodland plants dotted with yellow and purple wildflowers.  The soft hum of traffic seemed quite far away.

I liked the Prairie-style observation area. Even the rock outcroppings seemed influenced by the horizontal Prairie aesthetic.

I caught a few pictures of the wildlife.

After leaving the lily pool I crossed Fullerton and walked all the way around North Pond, stopping for a look at the facade of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. 

I came upon a mother duck and her ducklings (or, as my sister and I used to call them for some reason when we were kids, "half-baby childs").   

At the top of the park I snapped what is meant to be a picture of  the Elks National Veterans Memorial.  And if this sunbathing beauty got into the shot, well, that's life.  Too much trouble to PaintShop her out.  Ahem.

As long as I've lived in this town I'm still discovering things that cause me to look upon the familiar in a new way.  Who needs to go to Giverny?  Monet could have found all the beauty he needed on the north side of the great city of Chicago.

  

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

Looks like a great place to spend time. There's something about an urban park that makes it feel more special than one in a suburban or rural area; it's somehow more valuable, since green space and wildlife are at a definite premium in the city. Some of my best memories of the days I've spent in NYC are of Central Park and the 91st Street Garden (the "You've Got Mail" garden).

July 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom M.

The park looks like a perfect urban oasis. We must be sure to visit this lovely park next time we come to Chicago. Although you described the day as hot, somehow the park looked cool and restful. I love the pictures.

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Pfeiffer

Great entry man, made me feel like I was there. Used to love going in there to read. Great point Tom about how special urban parks are, this one in particular seems very much like an oasis as the urban-esque scenery pretty much disappears (though you can still hear buses and other traffic, they haven't figured out how to eliminate that yet :0).

July 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephen K.

I loved my first (and so far only) visit to Chicago. Didn't get to this part of town, unfortunately. However, your posting has made me want to go back even more than I did before and explore the city and region in greater detail. Thanks for sharing.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAcerebel

What an excellent essay. I could feel the city slipping away myself as it always does when I escape to the Lily Pond. Another urban escape is Humboldt Park -- especially lovely is the city skyline view from the porch of the boathouse on summer and autumn evenings. Finally, when you cross the bridge into wooded isle on the south side, the city sounds DO disappear five minutes into its thick forest. There are many more equally beautiful parks throughout the city that are worth exploring.

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah McCoy

Thanks, Acerebel.

Deborah, I lived right off of Humboldt Park for a few years in the 90s and your message rekindles my days there. Days and nights when the park was a realm of imagination for me and my then step-daughter, days of playing with my dog, now at rest. I see the boathouse and that island across the bridge. Seems like another life sometimes, these days. Thank you.

November 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterScott Pfeiffer

I, too, found this quiet place with the almost hidden doorway. It is a perfect place to visit when one's life is a bit full. Wandering, daydreaming, idly sitting, and reading are wonderful ways to enjoy this space in the city.

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudy Kanne

Well said, Judy.

November 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterScott Pfeiffer

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