In which we explore an urban waterway in a distant ecosystem.
We landed at Chicago Midway Airport on a blustery March day. Later that week we took a bike ride under the bright sun heading west on the new 606 trail arriving at a sun dial marked with the solstices and equinoxes. We turned back east, confronted wind and, at the edge of the lake, enough fog to almost totally obscure the John Hancock Tower. Its surrounding, shorter friends were invisible. We stood on new land here, placed into the lake in the past year to create this park.
On our last day we walked through the neighborhood to a winding river walk that bordered the urban Chicago River . This riverwalk was built and maintained by neighbors through a non-profit called Neighborspace. The walk wound up and down the bank and alternated between wild and tended. A few early snowdrops bloomed. The paths were edged with gathered sticks and logs. Posts with longer tree branches attached served as whimsical railings.
The space reminded me of the places in the woods and wetlands my brother and I played in and shaped as children. Having the neighbors work together to craft this space left such a lighter, more malleable and natural mark than parks or river walks created by the city. Neighborspace, it turns out, is a non-profit that works to acquire properties and maintain them through a land trust as community managed gardens and parks.