Winter’s cold mantle has settled on Lincoln Central Park. It seems our rabbits are sleeping more to conserve their energy and prepare for Chicago’s wintertime so our children no longer can spot them hiding behind the park’s bordering evergreen. It is a time of rest for this slice of nature. Just a few weeks ago, near summer weather reigned. An unexpected gift allowing children to jump without a chill into the piles of orange and yellow Autumn leaves that surrounded our shut down, boarded fountain. Watching the children laugh, leap, and throw the leaves into the welcoming warm air allowed passing pedestrians to celebrate what seemed a long ago, almost forgotten Fall practice. A lovely reminder to us all how children are capable of finding joy in the everyday.
Migrating birds no longer pass through our space but there are still a few orange and purple flowers peeking through our ivy - the last flowering remains of the seeds and seedlings planted by our volunteer Girl Scout troop. A troop we are all hoping will return next Spring with new plans and their unbridled energy.
We no longer see the young cuddling couples from Lincoln Park High School who would come during their lunch hour to sit alone enjoying the quiet reprieve the park offered them from their busy campus. Our homeless visitors still come and peacefully settle before moving on. Construction workers from the neighborhood who used the park as a respite to eat their packed lunches are now just faded memories from our park’s busy fair-weather seasons. Our day care children with their caregivers do not come as frequently, the flowing fountain, the magical draw for both the children and their attending adults, is now shuttered. Recently a young man who had just moved in from Old Town commented on what a gift the park was. He loved the Spring colored benches (another one of the contributions from our Girl Scout Troop) feeling they added a sense of peace to the site. A site he planned to use throughout the seasons.
We have prepared our newly planted Japanese Maples for the oncoming winter. They have been mulched and fertilizer spikes have been inserted to protect them from the arctic blasts we all know so well in Chicago. New seeds and bulbs have been planted along our park’s west border. That section of the park regretfully had been trampled a bit causing the succulents and fall plantings our troop had installed to be destroyed. Because of the wealth of our Northside alley throwaways, we were able to install a “found” treasure of arched metal fencing to protect this area and allow the future blooms to survive and thrive.
Our river stone path has been refurbished. We dug up the sunken stones, so the flowing texture is once again highly visible. The park is now ready for winter’s assault, probably more ready than we are. Christy Webber once again did an amazing fall clean up so we can rest assured Spring will once again raise up the sleeping beauty of our park for us all to gloriously enjoy.
Meanwhile we will acclimate ourselves to winter’s frost and during the dark nights discover the warm beauty of the newly installed solar lights that adorn our young Japanese Maples. Winter will not hold us captive while our park awaits us even during its well-deserved time of slumber.
A special thanks to Litcy Kurisinkal and her husband as well as LCA president Erik Heitman for sponsoring our wonderful Girl Scout Troop; to the "Older Than Dirt Guys" who planted our new tree plantings; to Mihir Mehta, Bob Graziano and Terry Burns for donating our lovely young Japanese Maples.