Play Day at the Library

Harold Washington Library, Downtown Chicago

The weather forecast was for mostly cloudy and a chance of rain so it seemed like a good day to pack lunches and take the Metra train to downtown Chicago and visit the library.  We had been told that the children’s library was worth the trip, and indeed it was.  The children’s area is as large as some of the branch libraries back home in Duluth.  They not only have a huge selection of books for readers of all ages, they also offer a play area, computers just for kids, interactive displays and more.  One interesting display involves a hunt for clues for various children’s stories.  Inside a large clear box is a house and yard populated with bits and pieces that are hints of what story the items are from.  It’s fun to see how many you can recognize, but if necessary, there is a cheat sheet you can use to find the more challenging clues or clues from books you may not have read.
What we didn’t know when we planned our excursion, and what turned out to be an incredible highlight of the adventure, was that the library was trying something new in their ninth floor atrium called Play Day.  Play Day was an amazing assemblage of things for kids of all ages to use for creating, playing, and learning.  There was homemade play dough, sandboxes, loads of cardboard, cup stacking, a music corner and a separate room for Legos.  The event was staffed with wonderful volunteers who did a great job of wandering around and insuring that everyone was having a good time, usually by joining with the kids or assisting with a creation.  Parents were encouraged to play right alongside the kids, and most did, I know we did.
My wife and I want everyone at the library to know that the event was a huge hit with our grandkids and, it seemed with all who attended and joined in the fun.  Our thanks go to all involved, the organizers, the volunteers and those who may have donated supplies for the event, it was phenomenal.  We heartily encourage the library to do more of these in the future and if we are in Chicago when they do, we will make a point to attend with our grandkids.  We also look forward to seeing our creation, Robbie Roboty, if it’s on display in the library.
I hope the images help to illustrate the amount of fun that was available that afternoon.  By the way, the library building itself is worth the visit.

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24 Hours

After a long week of sports photography in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, it was nice to take a break and head north for a visit home.  It’s a little over two hours from where I stay in the cities to my home in Duluth, so it’s not a big deal to make the trip on the same day if needed.  If I feel I have the time, I will sometimes use these trips to explore alternate ways of getting north or south rather than use the freeway so that I might discover new photo ops.  But not this trip, this was a quick turnaround where I would have about twenty-four hours in Duluth.  Upon my arrival, as I came to the top of the hill, which affords a panoramic view of Duluth, Lake Superior and the St. Louis River harbor, I was greeted with no view of any city, lake or harbor.  The entire lake basin was hidden by a low lying fog bank.

Besides the tasks that need to be done, water plants, do my laundry, work a bit on cleaning the garage to be ready for my car this winter, local errands, I also had plans to be on the shore of Lake Superior for the lunar events Sunday night.  As most know, there was a rare combination of a full moon, super moon and a lunar eclipse.  I have never photographed an eclipse and wanted to give it a try.  But, before leaving for the lake, I took  a bit of time to document things growing in the yard.

Since the location I had planned to shoot the moon from was being used by a group of Native American women for a ceremony, I moved down shore about fifty yards and setup my gear.  As the evening progressed, the magic of the lunar event was enhanced by the sounds and sights of the ceremonial event taking place nearby.

As I mentioned, this was my first attempt at photographing an eclipse and the intermittent cloud cover didn’t help.  I did enjoy some successes, but there were many unusable images.  However, I learned from the experience and will be better prepared the next time I have the chance to witness a celestial event of this nature again.

And now it’s Monday morning and in a couple of hours, I will be loading the car and heading back south to shoot soccer games later today.  But my time in the northland was good, as it allowed me to slow down a bit and be removed from the frenetic pace of the big city for a few hours and to spend time by the “big lake” and be reminded why I move up here and away from the “big city.”