North Park Village Nature Center
There’s a little patch of wild nature in Chicago, I recently discovered.
The plants are allowed to grow as they had for years and years before we began to pave and farm and coax green from the ground and each others’ pockets.
The trees are allowed to reach far into the sky, and crack and break, falling to the ground to be reclaimed by the soil.
The grasses are allowed to sway in the strong breeze, hiding vast numbers of bugs, clicking and buzzing deep in the brush.
The water that collects is allowed to dry and swell with the patchy storms and dusty droughts that punctuate this city’s long summer.
Even the areas built for humans are meant to observe and support life.
This was a green place, this bit of nature that I found. But it won’t be for long. It will change with the seasons, turning brown in October, and white in December. But it will change only on its terms.
There’s a certain energy to a plot of land that is left to grow and shrink as it wants. It makes a specific sound, smells a certain way, feels different under foot. When you slow down, sit, watch, listen, you can pick up on the cues being sent back and forth. Your eyes readjust to the lights and darks and the shades in between, finding the life that slips along in the shadows, usually right beneath our noses.