Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day Trips

Birdland feels like a foundry, or maybe we’re standing right next to a blacksmith’s forge. I close my eyes and I can feel the steam rising as the smith plunges red hot metal into boiling water to cool it. Sweat beads our foreheads, rolls down our necks to soak our shirts. We’ve been taking day trips to escape the heat (a little) and because we can feel the end of our guest’s visit looming. Ellis and I, with our friends, Gayle and Joey, showed Yuki, our visitor from Japan, a little of the Windy City this week. We drove up hoping to take advantage of the free day at the Field Museum, and we learned a little something about free days. Imagine that other folks would have the same idea! After waiting in line for about 45 minutes, one of us snuck in to use the restroom and discovered such a crush of people inside that we decided to rearrange our schedule and try again later. Lesson learned: wait until afternoon to try out the free days at the museums. We took the 130 bus directly to the Sears…I mean Willis, Tower.

At the tower we waited again to buy tickets for the boys to the top, but Gayle and I succumbed to our acrophobia and waited below for the boys to be whisked to the top where they took pictures of their feet on the “Skydeck,” a glass ledge jutting magically off the side of the tower for an even more daring view of the city below. We walked around on the street below, craning our necks to see if we could find our boys. We could see people up there. Next time we’ll bring binoculars. Those boys found a lot to do up there, and finally returned after we called them twice to see what was up. “We are!” they said. They met us at the bottom of the tower with many photos of themselves sitting on thin air above a tiny city, of the number “103” in the elevator, of their fingers delicately lifting skyscrapers, pinching John Hancock, grasping train cars on the El.

We walked around the Loop, taking more pictures of buildings, pigeons, and public art, like Tony Tasset’s “Eye,” a giant sculpture of a very realistic eyeball next to a hot dog pushcart. The boys snapped pictures, while I contemplated Emerson:I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.” I’m not sure that was what Tony Tasset had in mind, but it worked for me. After chatting with the hot dog vender, (He has been here since the eyeball went up; yes, he can hold the tomatoes on Yuki’s dog.) we ate our lunch, hopped another 130 bus and returned to the Field, where the crowd was much more reasonable now. We stayed until closing time where we contemplated a gigantic dinosaur, some elephants and their predecessors, climate change, and the beginnings of life.

The next day, the boys decided they’d spent enough time in the car, so didn’t join me for a trip to the Indiana State Fair to visit with my friend, Kim. She divides her time between her home in York County, Pennsylvania, and the U.K., and we haven’t seen each other for many years. We even lost touch for a while. Funny how friendships are sometimes like the plants that come up in the spring. You don’t see Daffodils or Ghost Lilies for a long while, and your attention turns to other things: Vegetables, Grape Vines, Peaches; then the dying back of Autumn and the quiet Winter. Just when you have all but forgotten them, they return, and you realize they’ve been living their own secret life all along, maybe have forgotten about you too. But the reunion is sweet, and you enjoy the visit. Kim and I spent the afternoon at the fair, and I have to say I’m impressed with Indiana’s offerings. They had a wonderful Pioneer Village, showcasing crafts, like quilting, rug hooking, and woodworking. We talked to a women hooking a rug, and she let us try our hand. She buys wool skirts from thrift stores to cut into thin strips for her rugs, which were artful and original. She hooked me, and I am going to forsake my September Birdland Art show to return to Indy for a beginner’s rug hooking class. In another exhibit area, we talked to beekeepers, who have a class nearby on the same day. We visited all the animal barns, of course, and ran into a friend from home, Linda, who was helping with the miniature donkeys. These convergences are always funny to me, and the trip took my mind off the heat, if only for a few hours.

Walk in Beauty; Work in Peace: Blessed Be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in all kinds of arts and crafts. The Emerson quote above comes from his essay, “Nature.”


  1. Wish I could've hooked up with you at the fair. Sounds like you had a good time. I do like the Indiana State Fair.

  2. Me too. Next year for sure. I kind of have to talk myself out of going again next Tuesday. Too much to do here.