Tag Archives: Midewin

Out Of Alignment

I’m afraid this unseasonably cold weather is my fault because I broke the “Every Holiday Has Its Day” rule. I have a Fall post that I mentally composed over a month ago but never got around to doing anything about it. Once I posted about the US Capitol Christmas Tree, I figured it was now out-of-season for the previous post. However, I didn’t realize that I’d be facing Valentine’s Day weather within next week. I feel like the universe is begging me to balance things out by posting out of turn in the other direction.

I’ll take your thank-yous in advance of the upcoming forecast. Please note it may take 4 days to 4 months to go into effect.

Prairie Webs
One cool, damp fall morning, I headed out to Midewin National Tall-Grass Prairie for a hike. I don’t run anymore. I seem to be pretty content with hiking. So be it.

Let me remind you that the prairie is fairly flat and with the exception of standing next to giant ragweed you should be able to see for miles. Trust me, it’s eerie to be standing in brilliant sunlight only to see a wall of fog just a quarter mile down the trail. To be fair, it’s eerie to stand next to 6 feet tall giant ragweed knowing that you’ll need to shoot Benadryl shortly.

IMG_4405.JPGMaybe the fog wouldn’t have seemed so ominous had I not come a across several of Halloween’s most common mascots.

IMG_4404.JPGThese webs were most likely produced by a Yellow Garden Spider or a Spined Mictathena, both common in Prairie Creek Woods at Midewin. These orbs are small in the spring and summer but get bigger and bigger as the season comes to an end.

I tell you, bigger and bigger is a fitting description for these orbs. I never noticed the orbs earlier in the summer but just before Halloween…wow. It’s as though Mother Nature wants you to know your silly decorations are no match for her.

First, she beguiles you with a splendid array of reds and yellows in the trees. You wander around blissful with a pleasant smile on your face thinking it’s just so pretty. Then Mother Nature has a laugh as you run into a single strand from a fall orb weaver. As you freak out from the feeling of the silken strand across your face, a severe chill goes down you back when you HEAR the thread snap. If your brain isn’t frozen with fear, you think “how big does a spider have to be to produce a thread that you can hear snap when you walk into it?”

IMG_4406.JPGThe sunlight happened to highlight the dew droplets on the silk thread spanning the trail ahead of me.

IMG_4403.JPGThe use of spider webs in Halloween decor didn’t just develop from intense arachnophobia, in nature they represent oncoming fall as much as colored leaves.

Happy Fall Everyone!


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An Early Christmas Season

I believe that the Christmas season doesn’t start until the last Turkey leg has been gnawed down to a splintering bone. But, I made an exception for the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree.

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is part of our national forests, took advantage of the opportunity to bring the 88 feet tall White Spruce from the Chippewa National Forest to a couple of small towns just a few miles apart as the only IL stops on its tour to Washington, DC.

I felt a strong urge to go see the Capitol Tree because I am somewhat of a holiday freak and still get very excited about Christmas.

Was it worth braving the prairie winds and unseasonably below freezing temperatures?
Of course it was! Did you not just read my Holiday Freak declaration?

It was worth the early celebration and inhospitable climate, but I was disappointed that you can only see a couple of feet of the tree through a vinyl window. I mean, I get that there would be a lot of wind damage to the boughs driving down the highway, I just wish they could have dropped open a full side so maybe I could have hugged the tree or something.

Happy Thanksgiving! (I’m back to my old ways again! )

IMG_4545.JPG The Older Kid and me in front of the tree

IMG_4550.JPG I put the Younger Kid on my shoulders so that he could sign my name up high. I recommend that you bring a ladder if the tree comes to a town near you.

IMG_4546.JPG The Truck

IMG_4547.JPG I didn’t say it…

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