Tag Archives: Nature

A Summer Day in Hyde Park


It’s summer. The weather is nice. And you have a few precious weeks of freedom left before the MAPHstorm arrives. If you’re in Hyde Park for the summer, this is a great time to explore the area and get your bearings, and to enjoy what is in my opinion one of Chicago’s most underrated little neighborhoods. With that in mind, here’s my vote for a perfect summer day in Hyde Park:

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Some Great Parks in Hyde Park (None of which are called Hyde Park)

For those of you who have decamped to Hyde Park from parts far-flung, or for those of you soon to do so, or for those of you residing elsewhere in Chicago and wanting a green place near your new school in which to recreate, we present a trio of splendid parks in Hyde Park.

Time processing.

Washington Park

It’s huge and great.  In fact, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, Washington park is the biggest park of the “four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington.”  It’s a good place to run, ride, walk dogs, play frisbee, and do other stuff.  Some people fish in the pond.  Washington Park is also home to the DuSable Museum of African American History (which is excellent) and a tremendous sculpture called “The Fountain of Time.”


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Nature in Chicago?

The city motto is after all "urbus en horto" so make sure to find the best of this city in a garden.

So many of you who have not been working or living in a big city may find yourself missing nature trails and places to hike or walk or generally not see other people. While (alas) no mountains are ever going to be around Chicago there are a number of easy ways to get a bit of a nature fix right in the city. As a Western girl I have found many places to see a bit of nature in the city and have some recommendations after the jump.



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You’re underdressed!

Hey there MAPHarinos!

The time has come.  You must BUY WINTER CLOTHES.  I know that the cold has been a little late coming this year, but that is why now is the time to act!  Go get those greatcoats and earmuffs before it gets cold enough for hipsters to realize that their formfitting American Apparel sweatshirts and retro giant headphones are no longer cutting the mustard.

WHERE you go sort of depends on you.  Do a search for the closest Sally Am, Village Thrift or Unique Thrift, check out the Brown Elephant in Andersonville, head up to Ragstock in Boy’s Town, or all the way to the Junior League Club in Evanston if you got a case a’ the ol’ upper-class aspirations and wanna try on some fancy people clothes, fresh off some fancy people.

WHAT you wear, on the other hand, isn’t so much up to you as it is an effect produced by the limitations of your body in relation to the changing environment.  (I don’t mean what you wear on YOUR other hand, I’m being figurative.)  Think of it as a kind of second-hand Darwinism.  (Again, I don’t mean YOUR second hand, I’m making a pun on “second-hand” clothes (to which this version of Darwinism might be applied) and “second-hand Darwinism” itself, which is another way of saying that, strictly speaking, this is not Darwinism proper.)  WHAT you wear is more of a nature-realizing-itself-through-the-illusion-of-your-particularity sort of thing, and having always seen myself as something of an “owl of Minerva” (given that I have trouble sleeping at night, and a weakness for strong, dark and intelligent type people, especially if they are named Minerva) I figure I’ll just go ahead and TELL you what nature is going to use your body to wear, regardless of WHO you are.  (That was another pun, this type based on both the anti-individualism theme of this post and the owl reference (which, by the way, is a reference to Hegel (“The owl of Minerva flies only at dusk” (which means that we only know things after the fact (it is dusk now, by the way) because Minerva is the goddess of wisdom (for the ancient Greeks)))) the owl reference also linking back to Darwin inso far as I’m talking about clever animals (like the pugs in the photo (which also make a joke of Darwin in obvious ways (they are not naturally selected and are inherently unhealthy (and wearing coats)))).)

You need a coat!  As big and warm as possible!  Layers get DAMN annoying when you are going into an out of hot buildings all day.

You need BOOTS!  It snows HUGE in these parts, and your feet will get wet, then freeze, and die, if you do not buy boots!  Go to an army surplus store if you can, my canadian army boots are still going after two Montreal winters and a year in Chicago.



Cool.  Ok.  That should do it.


Wild Monk Parrots!

Hey there, MAPHers,

I suspect that many of you are in various stages of planning, packing, or settling in to your places in Chicago.  In the midst of the stressful and exhausting process of moving, here’s a fun fact to get you excited about your new home: for the past 22 years, a fairly stable population of feral monk parrots (also known as quaker parrots) has thrived in Hyde Park.  Apparently, a number of these birds were shipped to the Chicago area from their native Argentina in the ’60s and ’70s to be sold as pets.  By the late ’70s, small groups of the escaped parrots could be seen nesting in local parks and on telephone poles.  Populations of wild monk parrots live in other regions of the U.S., but Hyde Park monk parrots are notable for their ability to weather the harsh Chicago winters.  The birds do not migrate, but instead, hunker down in their nests which serve as permanent dwellings over the course of the birds’ lives.  Those who study the birds (including University of Chicago Professor Stephen Pruett-Jones) have suggested that their survival through the winter months is due in large part to backyard bird feeders–in other words, the kindness of strangers.  I learned all of this (and more fascinating monk parrot info–including the fact that monk parrots have 11 distinguishable vocalizations here.

I have to say, I had heard about these adept creatures before my move to Hyde Park, but as I have recently discovered, it is a whole different experience to stumble upon them “in the wild”.  I came upon a rather large group of them yesterday while walking Sally, our MAPHscot (see earlier post!) at Florence Stout Park (55th and Greenwood).  It was an overwhelming and altogether unique experience.  This particular group of monks was obviously stirred up by the presence of the dog–they were incredibly vocal and active, flying ceaselessly from tree to tree and announcing our presence to the whole group.  I hope that all of you will be pleasantly surprised by such an encounter at some point during the year.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for these guys as you trip around Hyde Park.  And remember, if these guys can survive the winter, then so can we, gosh darnit!

Bundle Up

Average Temps

For those of you joining MAPH from warmer climes, a few tips on dressing to handle the Chicago weather. As you can see above, it gets COLD. And with the cold comes wind and snow and the need for serious winter clothes. Some of you already know how to deal with this, but for those of you who don’t, here are some pointers:

HATS are awesome. My mom would give some sort of statistic on the percentage of body heat you’ll save just by wearing one, but I’ll just point out that they’re nice and warm and you’re going to want one with earflaps, because that wind can be vicious. Some days you’ll even put on a hat under your hood.

SCARVES are key, too. Not just for hipsters anymore, they’ll do a great job of ensuring that any skin between your coat and your hat stays covered.

COATS are obvious. Even if you’re from Florida, you probably know what to do here. The warmer the better.

MITTENS are warmer than gloves.

BOOTS should be waterproof.

LONG UNDERWEAR is probably overkill, but potentially nice.

But if you show up with this outfit, in an appropriate size, you will be the most popular person in MAPH, guaranteed.