Thinking about 2016

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting the past few weeks. With the end of the year in sight, I’ve been thinking of the things I’ve accomplished, the work I did, the people I met, the food I ate. I have a kind of insane habit of writing everything I do down. Yes, everything. I keep a highly detailed calendar, where every day of the year, I keep note of the places I go, the things I do, and the people I see. I have a pretty good memory regardless, but there are always the tiny moments that you forget: that certain coffee shop, the unexpected record store, the surprise six hour hang with a close friend. Keeping the calendar helps me hold onto it all.

Recently I pulled up my entries from 2016. Every month was filled with weird and wonderful experiences. 2016 was difficult, no doubt about that at all. Every day felt like a turning point, a door we weren’t always sure we wanted to walk through. But also, when going back through my calendar, I realized that 2016 was a year of beauty and strength and discovery. I feel grateful for what I’ve been able to do, see, try. I went on long walks in beautiful places. I ate incredible meals with kind, hilarious people. I refocused and accelerated.

There are many things I want to do next year, an ever-expanding list of goals to tick off. But before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to spend just a little more time thinking about 2016. So here are a handful of my favorite experiences from the year.

Behind the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago Illinois / Darker than Green
Featured post: What is Wilderness?

Best way to ring in the new year: at the Boston wedding of two dear friends
Best classic diner meal: Deluxe Station Diner, Newton Centre MA
Best alternative housing structure I sat in: a huge wooden teepee built along the path near Fresh Pond

Desert Room, Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago Illinois
Featured post: Garfield Park Conservatory

Best winter indoor activity: a ‘drink + draw’ with wine and treats
Best vegan snack: lentil pies from the Middle Eastern bakery
Best midwest road trip: Wisconsin for the Beloit Film Festival held at the lovely Bushel and Pecks

Agave leaves / Darker than Green
Featured post: Becoming a Plantswoman

Best piece of theater: Manual Cinema’s Mementos Mori
Best winter achievement: Made it to the end of daylight savings
Best book I read: Black Nature

Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains / Darker than Green
Featured post: Lemonade and the Eco Negro

Best couples vacation: Asheville, North Carolina
Best shopping experience of the entire year: Villagers
Best donuts: Vortex
Best breakfast: Over Easy Cafe

Flowering Purple Plum tree / Darker than Green
Featured post: City Noises

Best pizza: Fancy Nancy plus red onions from Reno
Best local book publisher: Haymarket Books, who organized this fantastic event
Best native midwest seeds to grow in shade containers: river oats and wild nicotiana

New plants on the porch / Darker than Green
Featured post: How to Buy Plants

Best spot for lunch in Hyde Park: Plein Air Cafe
Best nostalgia stroll: 57th Street Art Fair
Best new coffee in Chicago: Sawada
Best outdoor concert: Rodrigo Amarante and Leyla MaCalla at Millennium Park

Wild plantain / Darker than Green
Featured post: Weeds

Best street festival: Square Roots in Lincoln Square
Best vegan Indian food: Arya Bhavan
Best music festival: Pitchfork (special mention to Moses Sumney, who was the best of the weekend)
Best indoor concert: Emily King at Thalia Hall

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn / NYC Green City Guide / Darker than Green
Featured post: Camping in the City

Best summer sweatfest: New York City in August
Best dinner: Nix
Best ferry ride back in time: Governor’s Island for the Jazz Age lawn party
Best, most transporting green space: Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters
Best urban campout: REI member overnighter at Northerly Island

Bridge to Evening Island, Chicago Botanic Garden / Darker than Green
Featured post: Chicago Botanic Garden

Best solo vacation: Oakland and San Francisco
Best vegan sushi: Shizen
Best walk: pre-9 am stroll through the San Francisco Botanical Garden
Best cocktail: an amazing concoction made with celery liqueur at Bar 355

Fall in Humboldt Park, Chicago / Darker than Green
Featured post: Humboldt Park

Best friend vacation: Hartsville and Charleston, South Carolina
Best bartender: Proof Bar
Best cornbread: Edmund’s Oast
Best time I’ve ever had in a cemetery: Unitarian Church cemetery off of King Street
Best spiritual experience with a tree: Angel Oak
Best movie I saw all year: Moonlight
Best way to spend Halloween: Karaoke on a Monday night with good friends

Burning bush in fall / Darker than Green
Featured post: Speaking about Diversity

Best family vacation: Los Angeles
Best cappuccino: Balconi
Best lunch: Superba
Best sunset hike: Ernest E. Deb’s Park in Highland Park
Best wine to drink three bottles of at Thanksgiving dinner: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

Best hot chocolate: Bistro Campagne
Best nightcap during the first snowfall of the season: Chicago Athletic Association
Best holiday decorations: Marie’s Pizza & Liquors (truly a sight to behold)
Best day-after-Christmas excursion: Lincoln Park Conservatory

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