It’s all changing much too fast. Earlier this week, we were living in a winter so harsh that the new party trick was to throw hot water in the air to watch it freeze before it even hit the ground. In Chicago Zoo, it was so cold that the polar bears had to be taken inside. The pipes in our building burst in the night because the water inside them froze and expanded, a concept so foreign to me that I had to Google it.
The most telling part of the cold this week was our surreal feat of walking clear across a frozen Wade Lagoon. Starting at the shore near between the mermaid twins and the willow tree, we ended up on the other side near the green steepled church across the street. Incredulous but jubilant, we ran back across the lake, yelling triumphantly – if there was ever a crack, we didn’t hear it.
Yet as precipitously as the temperatures plunged this week, they shot back up overnight. It was a balmy 10 C when we went on our walk Saturday morning and saw that the grassy parts of the park were uncovered, when only a day before they were fields of snow. We were probably contributing to the melting with the heat we were generating by being overdressed.
As if to drive home the fact that we really had woken to a different world, our resident flock of geese flew overhead! They had deserted the lagoon around Thanksgiving, but had obviously not gone too far. We stalked them when they landed on the same lagoon that we recklessly walked across just 2 nights ago, though now it was a slippery, reflective iceberg, on its way to being liquid again.
No more walking on water, no more skating on pavements. And at the risk of ruining the magic, the melting of the snow had also uncovered a parkful of geese droppings, carefully preserved in the cold! I guess we’ve had our fun in the winter wonderland.
The Wade Lagoon and Park is the perfect stage for the changes of the seasons to be played out. The giant willow tree, so invincible in the summer, is shelled down to its bare bones in the winter. The emerald green of the leaves are transformed into pops of burnished hues as they give way to berries. The eyes in the trees come alive in the snow, the fingered branches sticking up towards the sky. The lagoon itself, home to koi so large that we could see their white and orange shapes from the top of the hill, play out the tides of time best of all.
I’ve always loved the idea of compiling a series of photographs to document these juxtapositions, and I present to you my version of a Wade Lagoon time lapse. Some themes worked out better than others; I guess my definition of time lapse is pretty fluid!
Pick your favorite line :)