Little kids make lists to Santa Claus for gifts they want at Christmas.  I guess there is a something of the list-maker in me that has held into my adult years, but it has morphed slightly.   I don’t care so much about gifts*  but I do keep a running log of natural phenomena that has eluded my grasp. And yes, I have to admit that I’m a little vexed  that I haven’t been able to tick these off of my lifelong to-be-seen-or-found list.

Let’s take stock, shall we?  

1.  Trilobites and/or arrowheads.  I’m a little disappointed that at this stage of my life I have not found either.  You would think that I would have found one or the other for all the knocking around outdoors I have done.   

2.  A Bald eagle over the Des Plaines River.  This is not as far fetched as it sounds.  Bald eagles were seen nesting along the Little Calumet River, and if they can tolerate that they should find our environs pleasing.   With the arrival of winter this is the time to keep looking skyward over open water.   This, of course, makes it difficult to spot arrowheads. 

3.  A Snowy owl, please.  This has already been discussed at length.  I will accept a Northern harrier as a substitute.  

4.  Prothonotary warblers nesting near the Des Plaines. This too should be an easy wish, as they too have been spotted in far worse environments further south on the river. Also called the Golden Swamp warbler…how cool is that?  Worth the search.  I can almost guarantee that if you ever see one you’ll be a birder for life.

5. Prairie cicada –  I’m a big fan of cicadas, and a big fan of prairies.  This sighting would be -as you kids say – a “win-win”.  Heck, I’d even say it could be a “win-win-win.”     

Alas, I’m afraid that Santa can’t help me.  I’ll need to rely on perseverance, timing and maybe a dash of luck to corral these minor vexations of mine.  It’s worked before – maybe sometime I’ll write about all the amazing things I’ve seen in spite of myself . 


*  But if you readers want to all pitch in and buy me a shiny new Lexus with a big honking red bow on top that’s okay.       

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I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...

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