I have a big project due, one of those big projects that require reading and writing for weeks and weeks at a time

and it’s due soon. In the face of deadlines that loom large in the future, I have a sure-fire first step: procrastinate.

This morning I woke to a beautiful 75 degree in Chicago – in August – how often does that happen? Big project?

What big project? Let’s go to the zoo! Today was an expedition to the parts of Chicago that tourists see. Every

now and then, I think it’s important for me to take the time to visit the parts of Chicago I don’t usually visit.

In the routine day-to-day routine of living here, fighting traffic, waiting in line at Whole Foods, paying bills,

and looking for parking, it’s easy to forget that Chicago’s a huge city with things to do – cool things to do.

I struck out this morning – a hat on my head and a backpack on my back – to walk to my favorite places: the lake,

the zoo, the gardens.

From my house in Lakeview, it’s a forty-five minute walk to the lakefront. Once at the lakefront, it’s another

twenty minutes to the famous view of Chicago from the lake. The one you see in movies. Jennifer Anniston jogged

here. Harry met Sally near here. ER came here. And now I’m here.


From there, the zoo. It was 2:00 PM now and the only animal out in the sun was this lion who clearly had no

interest in being photographed.


I ambled among empty cages while animals slept their afternoons away. Tourists with cones and sticks of pink cotton

candy filed past peering into cages, waiting for the animals to amuse them. But they weren’t cooperating except

for this massive seal.


From there, the gardens.

botanical-garden-2.jpgThis is my favorite place in mid-January. The only place in the city that’s warm and balmy while everything else

sits in a wintry dryness. Today, it was as warm outside as inside and I missed that comforting envelope of

humidity that greets me when I enter in winter. It still has its charms.

Friendly koikoi1.jpg

And fragrant orchids:


It was 3 PM when I left the gardens and headed back home. Two miles to go. As I walked, Brian called my cell phone

and I accepted the invitation for a lift at point not far from where I was at Fullerton and Lincoln. It was 5 PM

when I arrived home with my feet aching.

And the project? It’s still due soon. And I suppose I could have locked myself into the library and sucked dark,

dry, air-conditioned air, but I wonder if I would have written better or more, had I done that? I like to think not.

For me, the big projects go better – or my experience of them seem better – when I don’t stop living to do them.

And yet…well, I’ll let you know if I still make that deadline….