As I prepared for the native plant tour portion of the Green Living and Learning Tour (Sept. 28), I searched across Oak Park for places a bee would visit.
I look at Scoville Park through the eyes of a bee and I am happy. My senses find hundreds of prairie drop seed and wild geraniums from which to suck nectar and gather pollen. The alien grass in the meadow does not poison me with insecticides. The hawthorn tree, planted by Jens Jensen, blossoms in early spring and feeds me at a time when I most need it. The plants I don't like (pretty annuals whose scent I don't recognize) pop up near the human spaces. I don't like to go near humans anyway so that works well.
I struggle through the rest of Oak Park, looking for a place to rest and eat. Those Prairie-style homes are guilty of false-advertising. I can't find a single prairie plant near them. Humans have a funny way of taking care of their food pollinators.
Luckily, on my way to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, I start to smell something nice coming from the north. I make a beeline up Woodbine Avenue and get to Field Park. Yay! The humans put a whole swath of prairie along the alley where I don't have to worry about them running into me. This time of year the liatris and asters taste delicious. I found a bit of goldenrod too. I don't think they intended to put it there — let's keep that just between us.
Now I'm really happy because I've detected even more prairie plants a few blocks away. What a bonanza! I could eat at Lindberg Park for weeks. I notice a hawk feels the same way. I'm not in his food chain so he leaves me be. A few butterflies flit in to take some food away. I let them in ahead of me because I don't see too many of them anymore. After collecting as much nectar as I can fit in my sac, I make the long flight home to my queen in the Austin neighborhood.
You, too, can look at Oak Park through the eyes of a bee by attending the Green Living and Learning Tour on Sept. 28 (www.greencommunityconnections.org). The guided native plant tour starts from Cheney Mansion (we're biking) at 2:30 p.m.