Wednesday, 7 March 2007
Frozen bean land
Well, I'm back after six fabulous days in Chicago, staying with my friend Sue, a former Australian who's lived there for almost thirty years. The picture above is of her lovely 100-year-old house, where I stayed in great warmth and comfort, even when, as you can see, there was a blizzard outside! Once, the snow fell so hard — and horizontally — we had to drive with headlights on in the middle of the day.
It was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g, sometimes with maximum daily temperatures that never got up to zero (Celsius)! And my thin, Australian-Californian blood had a hard time of it - I'd step outside and the cold would literally take my breath away. But it was also very beautiful, and I loved seeing snow again after 33 years.
:: The pic above, taken on Sunday night in the heart of downtown Chicago, is of the massive Anish Kapoor sculpture, Cloudgate, known affectionately as 'the Bean'. It is made of highly-polished stainless steel and, situated as it is, between the edge of the city and the shore of Lake Michigan, its amazing surface seemed to radiate pure cold.
The reflections of its surroundings, as you can see, are quite something. It has a big concave underside, and when you walk under it, it scoops up your reflection and lifts it up and away - hence its name, I guess!
:: I love the Bean. This (above) is its southern end. It's a photographer's delight.
The picture below is of the Bean on a hot summer's day in July 2005, when we were in Chicago with the kids. Only one end was showing - it had only recently been installed and workers had it under wraps and were polishing up its surface.Lily and Will are also great Bean lovers after seeing just this small part of it two years ago (picture below). We'll have to take them back to Chicago and let them see it in its entirety.
:: On Sunday night, the whole place was ringing with music from the nearby ice-skating rink. In summer, the rink becomes the site of a big outdoor cafe and restaurant, with big umbrellas over tables and cold drinks to help you cope with the heat.
But I love it like this, in the chilly winter air, with mums and dads, grandads and grandmas, kids and parents, brothers and sisters, and young lovers, all circling in the cold on the edge of their wonderful city.:: After the Bean and the skaters, unable to feel our fingers and toes from the cold and with me desperate for hot tea, Sue and I raced back to the car and drove down Michigan Avenue, with the trees all lit up and the shop windows blazing.
:: And back in the warmth - the next day, I finished my socks (below)! Now you can all look out, as winter will be drawing near soon in southern parts, so maybe a pair will come your way!
:: Knitting seemed to have become the theme of my visit! I dragged Sue all over the place visiting yarn shops - well, it's much more of a cold-climate activity, and sure enough, there were some wonderful stores within cooee of her house in Naperville. I stocked up on some odds and ends to work on back here in California, and I even started to teach Sue to knit.
This (below) was her kitchen table as I finished my socks, shortly before I packed my bags and we headed off to O'Hare and my flight back to sunny, warm San Diego.