Lazy Summer Days

Lily from my garden

What a lovely weekend it has been. I have really been enjoying watching my small shabby garden that I planted last year start to pop up again. Let me tell you something about this garden. I was truly shocked that anything grew there in the first place, let alone grow again the next year. It is planted in a small corner of the yard; a yard that opens up to the alley and is more gravel than dirt. In a pathetic attempt to make this horrid space look pretty, I threw down a couple bags of soil and threw some wildflower seeds on top of that. The soil I had gotten for free from a classified ad and there seemed to have been some bulbs mixed in with it. I didn’t expect them to do anything, but I have seen some flowers which I definitely didn’t plant.

Park in the Loop

I also planted sunflowers last year, and boy did those grow! I wish I had taken pictures of them, but alas, I am not one to remember to photograph things. I have been trying really hard to remember to take pictures these days. They grew to be taller than me, which means they were probably a good 6 feet or so. I have seen the beginning of them sprout up again, but they are pretty slow it seems right now. This is the first garden I have ever planted myself, although I have kept lots of potted plants inside, with various results. For awhile I had a monstrous aloe plant that kept outgrowing every pot I put it in. We decided to take the dog for a walk downtown since it was such a nice day outside and the gardens there were in full bloom as well.

Awesome!

The second part of my weekend was seeing one of my favorite bands play in Milwaukee. We got free tickets to an Against Me! show while standing in line for the last concert we went to. This is not the first time I’ve crossed state lines for a concert, and it probably won’t be the last. Driving 2 hours for a show can get a bit daunting, but it was totally worth it this time. The venue was much smaller than anything in Chicago, and so we could see everything up close. The band was super happy to be there and the lead singer could not stop smiling the whole time, it was awesome! The venue also lacked any bouncers near the stage and as a consequence several guys were leaping up on the stage towards the end and singing with them.

I love you Tommy Gabel

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Biking!

The past week has been packed with crazy summer activity! The weather has been in the 90s one day then drops 40 degrees in one night and now we’re all freezing. I’ve been getting in lots of biking though, which has made me very happy. My dad came up for a bike ride last weekend because he likes to bike on the lakefront train every so often. I get spoiled on the lakefront trail because I find myself on it at least two or three times a week these days. I love how diverse the trail can be depending on the weather. On rainy days or even just dreary, cloudy days it can feel like we have the whole lake front to ourselves. To just watch the dark lake wash violent waves up against all the boats in the harbor. But on this particular day it was hot and sunny, and also a weekend, which means lots of traffic because every Chicagoan knows to take advantage of nice weather while it lasts.

Skyline from Navy Pier

My favorite part of the lakefront trail is near the south loop, right next to the McCormick Place. The scenery is so nice and the pace can be as fast or as slow as you want. There aren’t lots of families going to the beach and standing around on the trail like there are on the north side. The trail can get downright dangerous on warm days when kids and tourists aren’t paying attention. They don’t realize that the lakefront trail means serious business to some people, and if you’re not careful, a spandex-clad sweat-storm on two wheels just might fly by and ruin your day.

Biking has become a very integral part of my life now; it is a hobby on nice summer days, and my best form of transportation on every other day. I can’t remember ever not knowing how to ride a bike. As a kid, I always had a bike and my sister and I would ride up and down our long driveway in the summer on roads we had drawn with sidewalk chalk. We used to take “family bike rides” every so often because there was a trail not too far from our house. Our typical path would be to bike to the Creamery in the next town over and we would get to eat a sundae before the bike back. Those rides were one of my favorite things when I look back at summer as a kid. But that was when I was maybe ten or eleven. Somewhere around the age of thirteen going to get ice cream with your parents wasn’t cool anymore and the thought of being seen on a bike was absolutely mortifying. I don’t think I rode a bike again until college.

College made biking not only cool again, but in the city, it’s almost imperative. Biking is the perfect mode of transportation for us fine college folk who are too poor to pay for gas and insurance. Plus when you bike, you can go to as many college parties as you like and not have to worry about a designated driver or parallel parking. I commute to school every day on my bike now, and in the summer I go all around the city too. I love the freedom of being able to maneuver so easily through traffic and “parking” three feet outside of every door I want to enter.

My Olympic Sport, recently new to me

I feel like bikers share a unique bond because we all have to deal with the wrath of angry drivers who are constantly honking and very nearly running us over sometimes. So cheers urban bikers! Because you are part of keeping yourself and your planet a little bit healthier! Anyone else have some urban bike adventures they would like to share?