Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Skokie Lagoons

Scalzi's Monday Morning Photo assignment is to post a winter scene in a visual attempt to cool off the hot summer. I know, it's Tuesday.

The Skokie Lagoons are right on the edge of the town where I grew up.  I think they were part of a project to keep the jobless off the streets in the thirties.  As near as I can tell their purpose is to act as a holding pond for excess water from a tiny little stream called the Skokie River. The Skokie Indians for whom the river, the lagoons, my junior high school, and a town nearby are named, left town a long time ago.

The lagoons used to be full of blue collar fish called bullhead, but one summer some government agency, the one in charge of poisoning fish, came out and killed everything that swam in the water.  So they could stock it with more socially acceptable creatures.

I learned to sail on the lagoons in glorifed dingys propelled with sheets. The boats were called Penguins. They still have Penguin races as late as November if there hasn't been a hard freeze.

My former husband and I used to canoe around the lagoons.  He was a marathon canoe racer for awhile, which has to be one of the most thankless sports ever. 

Imagine paddling at fifty-seven strokes per minute for two hours non-stop. For a little plaque. Wait, isn't that the stuff on your teeth? My only question was -- why subject yourself to so much pain?  For me, canoeing has always been one of those languorous pleasures on still water. Interspersed with moments of terror when you can see nothing but level five rapids as you come around a bend.

My first boyfriend and I canoed out to one of the lagoon islands for a steak cookout, replete with Caesar salad and his mother's homemade dressing. And a serious make out session.

You can see the cross country ski tracks in the snow, skirting the edge of the lagoon.  In the summer the lagoons are at the start of a 35 mile bike path through the forest preserves. You can ride all the way down to Chicago and back.

When I used to get up at six in the morning to put in some road bike mileage, running into members of the well fed deer population was always a hazard when you came around a blind corner at twenty-two miles an hour. Luckily the deer were more frightened of me and leaped out of the way.

Lots of wonderful birds seem to use the lagoons as a flyway. I once saw an huge blue heron gingerly walking along the shore, right about where this picture was taken.

If it weren't for the noise of an expressway nearby you might think you were in Canadian boundary waters.

Kinda.  Sort of. 


mosie1944 said...

That second picture looks like a Christmas card!

gaboatman said...

It was nice hearing more about your hometown and local environs.  Nice entry, Mrs. L!

sunnyside46 said...

i felt like  was there & wished I were

cneinhorn said...

the one you took through your jeep window is great!  :-)

~  www.jerseygirljournal.com

courtenaymphelan said...

b-b-r-r-r-r-r-  What a setting for a film with a bleak ending....Courtenay