A Lakeside View of Earth Day, 2012

This is my city.

A lakeside view of the city.

Welcome to the Navy Pier.

In the image on the left the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) and the Shedd Aquarium are clearly visible, and you can see the expanse of the Navy Pier stretching out in the photo below.  Most visitors come to the city of Chicago to admire and explore the beauty of these man-made structures, in a place where old architectural styles are found mixed in with more modern building designs.  However, if you make your way over to the Museum Campus (and you will – you simply cannot visit the city and not enter one of our great museums), it is the view of Lake Michigan that will take your breath away.

Towards the center of the image, you will see the Chicago Harbor lighthouse, still standing sentry as it has for over a century.

This picture (on the left) was taken during an early spring day in Chicago, one with an over-abundance of sunshine and no wind to speak of (hence the placidity of the water).  While the splendor of the city is always worth seeing, I often find myself drawn to the lake, and pass through Millennium Park every chance I get to admire the view.  Without Lake Michigan – the largest freshwater coastline in the world – Chicago would not be the city that it is, or perhaps even a city at all.

On this day, Earth Day 2012, we should all take a moment to think about the wonders of our planet that we take for granted every day, whether they are famous – much like Lake Michigan – or little known – such as a local fish hatchery.  Without the water, oxygen, and edible sustenance our home provides us, our species would have never survived; we would not be here today.  If for no other reason than the survival of the human race, we – as a planet – need to continue to take better care of our Earth, both for ourselves and generations to come.

Happy Earth Day!

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An Unnatural, Natural Arrangement

The moment I discovered the name of this week’s photo challenge theme (“Arranged“), I knew what pictures I would use for my challenge response.  During my last trip to Chicago (the same one in which I took the photos of the telescopes in the Planetarium), my friends and I decided to eat lunch in Chinatown.  Now, one does not simply go to Chinatown solely to eat – after all, there are plenty of gift shops to go bankrupt in, architecture and statuary to admire, and, in spring, beautiful pear tree blossoms to photograph.

A careful arrangement of nature in the midst of the urban jungle.

In this picture, it is easy to spot the numerous pear trees so carefully arranged within the median decorating Cermak Road (otherwise known as the Chinatown Main Street).

A pear tree in full bloom.

This photo of a single, blooming pear tree was taken during our sojourn through the open market off of Archer Avenue.  Smaller pear trees, such as this one, can be found periodically dotting the walkway through the open market, all tastefully arranged to appear as an oasis of beauty and peace – or as much of an oasis as can be found in as busy a city as Chicago.  I find it ironic that for one to “escape” the feel of the man-made city, one is expected to lose themselves in the nature present within its borders – despite the fact that it was both planted and arranged by human hands.  Nature is not the only force capable of “natural” arrangements anymore.

To Gaze Through A Looking Glass

This week’s photo challenge is titled, “Through“, and features a beautiful shot of an archway taken by Sarah Russo of the Daily Blog.  In the crafting of my response to this challenge, I have been tossing ideas on my definition of “through” back and forth all weekend, trying to decide what image would best capture my interpretation.  In the end, I decided to go with the following picture:

Some of the telescopes on display at the Adler Planetarium date back to the eighteenth century and earlier!

On Thursday I and two friends of mine decided to take a day trip into the city.  Our very first stop was to one of my favorite museums: the Adler Planetarium.  Unfortunately, our timing was rather poor – evidently, at least four other schools shared our desire to visit the Planetarium on that particular day and sent out their students en masse.  Despite being jostled through every exhibit by younger, curious learners it was still a very enjoyable experience, and I was able to take a fair amount of photos – including the one shown above.  I took this picture while perusing the various telescopes on display in the Through The Looking Glass exhibit.  The beauty of these telescopes arrested my attention immediately.  It is fascinating to imagine the makers of these eighteenth century telescopes at work, each striving to ensure that the aesthetic quality of their telescopes’ exteriors matches that of what could be seen while looking through them toward the heavens.  They are transformed into a type of portal when used, allowing the viewer to look through a “lens of discovery” from our world into another.