By Dave Coulter
Well, I don't know about you readers, but I'm happy that July is in the rear-view mirror. One of the hottest Julys in many years it's energy fading like charcoal after the grilling is done. I personally feel like a piece of bacon that has nearly been over-cooked, and I hope that August is a bit more tame.
Never mind the heat, E and I both had a very hectic month, but we finally got back on the trail last weekend to enjoy some cooler air while we burned off some steam. The Deer Grove trail system in northwest Cook County has recently been a favorite venue of ours. We circumambulated the open meadows twice.
The Forest Preserve has done well here. Lots of restoration work to the woods and fields, and I was happy to see possibly the biggest grove of Tuliptrees I have ever seen in the area. I was all stoked up about this until I read in my old Swink & Wilhelm book that many of these were once planted by the Forest Preserves. So I guess that's that on the Tuliptrees.
There is a model airplane field at Deer Grove, which is a popular spot with the aviators. Saturday was no exception, and three buzzing aeroplanes were flying tight ovals, as if in some sort of race. If the noise is off-putting in a forest preserve, the visual excitement kind of makes up for it. We always wonder if any joggers ever get crashed into.
The most amazing thing of all was the sight of two Sandhill Cranes feeding maybe ten yeard from the trail, seemingly oblivious to all the humans parading past. E and I were transfixed, and sat down for several minutes to quietly watch the huge birds with crimson brows pick through the grass and stubble. In my life I have seen thousands of Sandhills - passing high overhead. I have never seen these birds so tolerant of people. Maybe they wanted to get a better look at us humans….who knows about such things?
Later in the day storms blew through, cooling off the evening. We managed one more hike in the woods. What looked like a pair of Coopers Hawks chased through the trees on the edge of an open field, their antics hidden by brush and twilight. After sundown E summoned up some bats that followed us on the trail for a time. (I merely claimed I'd released them from my belfry). Closer to home, we tried to hoot up some owls - to no avail - proving that our powers of summons go only so far on an August night.