the bunny family and a walk with good karma

In the middle of an otherwise uneventful 2 miler the other day, my walking buddy and I happened upon a couple of fluffy puffballs munching on weeds in Brooks Park.

bun out box

Wait a minute…something doesn’t look right. We immediately realized these were not the usual, average, wild gray bunny we see in the dawn and at dusk in our park. In fact, they appeared to be homesteading in an old, abandoned, rusty “Danger – High Voltage” box near one of the  park’s side entrances.

bun in box

Barely a minute passed before we stopped, looked at each other, and with similar thoughts going through our heads, we intentionally ended our walk. Together, we flipped into “save the bunnies mode”. Cell phone in hand, calls were made. A bunny cage appeared, then a bag of carrots. Some onlookers gathered, wanting to assist. We summoned a person genetically predisposed to catching “wascally rabbits”, and as luck would have it, she was available and willing to help. Not only had she owned rabbits, but “back in the day” her Dad was a master wild bunny catcher in Ireland. How lucky were we!

As our retrieve and rescue cause unfolded, it was becoming more and more obvious that the bunnies were domestic and used to people. Our efforts had attracted quite a large crowd of kids and neighbors, and this didn’t seem to frighten the rabbits at all. Pretty soon, we had all four buns caught and landed in our bunny hut (yes, we found two adults and two babies hopping about). Success! Now what? (Eerily, they seemed to look up at us with the same question in mind.)

4 in hut

(Oh my gosh! Aren’t they the cutest little family you ever saw? – Besides your own of course!)

We moved the little hutch and family into a neighbor’s backyard as we began making calls to animal 311 and pet shops. Once again, luck was on our side as we found a pet shop in Evanston – Not Just Thee Fish Bowl –  that specializes in domestic rabbits. They were kind enough to take them, promising to keep them together until the babies were older. Upon visiting the shop, we were struck with a very happy vibe. As the workers coddled the bunnies, and prepared some very homey digs, we noticed other kinds of pets roaming freely and calmly about the shop. We felt like this was indeed the right place.

Such a happy ending! Here they are enjoying their new penthouse digs… together and safe!

at the petshop

 

On another note, I have vowed to keep my blog positive, and rant free, but sometimes…well, I can’t help but think, “why” just why?

It’s then I realize it was our destiny, to come together, as a small community of neighbors, pooling our talents on behalf of another being’s family and it’s welfare. A small group of people worked together for a moment. As adults, we showed compassion and empathy to the kids who had gathered. Was it karma that helped us along? All I know is – it enriched my soul to be able to work with others for a good cause, and in the end who cares about the rest.

When I look at that happy bunny family, it keeps me from imagining the worst possible outcomes that could have happened to them. And the best part – it all unfolded from a neighborhood walk!

socialwalk network

Walking is sometimes my linkedin, facebook, twitter – verse.

From an early age, I happily walked through my 1960’s Chicago neighborhood – greeting and visiting with others.

Photo on 3-14-14 at 7.58 AM

Fast forward to today, and not a lot has changed. When I go outside for daily walks in the park, I always run into neighbors. Because of my walking habit, I am linked in with people from all around the park. I know their families, their dogs and I see their kids grow from year to year.

Sometimes we walk a lap together, and sometimes we stop to exchange a quick tweet of news.

What I enjoy most about this is… it can be so very random. I don’t know who I will bump into or what type of story or news I will learn. Some neighbors share updates about their lives, some ask questions about my life, some just walk and talk about their dogs, the state of the park or nothing in particular. We share happy, we share sad. Somehow, there is safety and support.

I love that it keeps me in touch with people in just the right amount, until I see them again.

Then it’s over. We part ways until the next chance encounter.

Just like checking a newsfeed on Facebook – take what you need and leave the rest.

Remember, you meet people for a reason. Embrace it. Happy #UpliftingFriday

walksounds

Babbling Brooks
A flag flaps furls flaps
 geese honk here and there
overhead an O’Hare engine
distant moans, drones
drip alley gutters drip, drip
in staccato rhythms,
syncopated sun melt.
Robins flit up and down
inside the chitter chatter
of sparrows as
one lone cardinal
chirps resonant red,
a downtown train
shuts its doors
squeaky brakes release
a March wind whispers
too loud, a twig snaps,
cracks unto leftover snow.
The dog barks
rebarks, reply barks
 screeching squirrel
wantonly warns
 Harlem traffic
barrels, brakes and beeps
a bunny silent,
then out of sight.
An ode to Brook’s Park, in March, in Chicago.

snowmemories

What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel bittersweet about the end of an extreme, history making Chicago winter?

As I walk with Phoebe through Brook’s Park, I can see the snow is melting. I should be 100% happy. Within the past two days of over 40 degree temps, the feet have dropped to inches and beyond. There is green, black and brown color seeping back into my world. The weather is improving.

melt

The Robins have returned, they populate the red berry trees and the remnants of stained, crimson snow beneath. To be sure, their puffed up, tawny brown chests are a welcome Spring sight.

From Annclaire G. - I was feeling sorry for the Robins with all the berries gone down here in the flats. I raided the freezer. They love the raspberries, even though it makes them look like carrion. Dried currents are not as exciting. They sent out the message because suddenly there were over a dozen in our yard.
But, what is it with me? A pang of sadness, as I walk with Phoebe through our park. That’s it – “our” park! I fear a time has passed. This winter has been so extreme that the park has been empty for much of it. On most days, Phoebe and I were the only diehard visitors around. Together we made memories, our lone footsteps and paw prints, frozen in the ice and snow for months. We used our prints as trail markers to navigate around a deserted landscape. Like the ice, all are disappearing, fading away like magic.
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As we walk through on this day, I can barely see the last remaining belt marks from the nighttime snowmobiler. The tracks left behind suggest the mysterious craft zoomed around the park in the midnight hour, long after everyone in the neighborhood had gone to sleep. Leaving behind a morning memory, revealed as a belt-cut path through the deep snow, something only a machine could make. Phoebe loved to find it and hop onto it, following the packed path around and through the middle of the Park. She liked to follow it with her nose and I liked to follow her because my feet didn’t sink into the snow.
snowmobile tracks

Just over there, the tall hills of plowed snow are shrinking. They are no longer towering over my head. Earlier in the winter, as the snow piles grew, Phoebe was fond of climbing up to the top. There she would sit, looking out over the park like a sentry. Sometimes, I would summit and sit with her. In the cold, bright silence of many sub-zero mornings, we were the only ones out and we had the world to ourselves. Such peace.

phoebe on hill

Then, there are the fading footprints. The tiny prints of squirrels and rabbits, the larger boot prints of dog walkers and dogs, clues for me, revealing what Phoebe anxiously sniffed and tracked in the snow. Only during this season, could I see what’s usually invisible.  The snow highlighting the concealed secrets of trapped scents.

pawprints

My memories of this particular winter in the park are melting away.

My first winter in retirement – what a record breaking, memorable and unforgettable experience. I am grateful for the gift of time – I was able to get out “in the day” to experience the best it had to offer.

I was also very lucky – to have seen it through the eyes of a snow loving, curiosity seeking, playful young  Saint Bernard!

phoebe snowMy Phoebe Snowdog

photo op

Walks can lead to incredible moments.

What can I say – they happen all the time to me, these crazy moments, when I least expect them. I can’t help but wonder why they always seem to happen when I am out in the world, unawares in my “Elmer Fudd” style hat, wearing a pair of “hanging around the house doing chores” jeans? My brush with fame never happens when I am dressed to the nines! That’s life – I guess.

Anyway – one morning this past month I was out for a 2 mile walk with Phoebe. We were ending our walk with a loop through Brooks Park. While walking through the park, we happened to pass by one of the park entrances which was all set up for some kind of media thing. There were sound guys and a podium, surrounded by a bunch of blue garbage trucks and recycling bins. I asked one of the sound guys what was going on? He said Mayor Rahm Emanuel would be stopping by very soon for a press conference to announce blue recycling bins coming to our ward! Wow, I thought! But… guess who left her phone at home? Darn – no pictures!

Sure enough, within moments of him telling me, a couple of big black cars pulled up and a bunch of people dressed very nice stepped out. There were some TV reporters I recognized, the alderwoman and one or two assistants and photographers. By now, some neighbors saw the commotion and came over as well. I couldn’t leave – I had to stay and listen to his speech, mainly because this never happens, no one important ever comes to our park or our neighborhood. Phoebe sat down and we both settled in, in the background next to a tree. The speech was short and sweet and to the point. It was all over in a flash.

When the mayor was done talking I couldn’t believe it – he made a beeline straight toward Phoebe. She was so good. He came over and said hello to her, he patted her on the head and then he shook my hand. I was so impressed. In the next moment they all loaded up into their cars and were gone – like it never happened. Luckily for me, one of the sound guys lives in my neighborhood and he took some pictures which he later emailed to me. I was so grateful.

You never know what a walk will lead to!

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gone

As I’ve mentioned before, I live across the street from Brook’s Park.

I am saddened today to walk into the Park and see that 14 ash trees lining the walkways are gone – they were cut down yesterday. The trees  paralleled the north and south sides of a small strip of grass leading into the park, forming a mini “plaisance” in our neighborhood.  Without a doubt, these trees created a dramatic and scenic entry into an otherwise average looking city park. According to the park district, the trees were infected with invasive beetles. All 14 trees were planted maybe 20 years ago by a group of neighbors working together to beautify the park.

I hope the city will replant the trees next spring in this same patch of land and try to recreate the look. It gave our neighborhood park some character, mixing open space and athletics with a very grand and seasonally colorful naturescape.

treecut

notrees

before, during and after  : (