Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Now that the experiment is over, I can say that the extremely light weight clothing, the stuff that practically feels dry when you remove it from the washing maching, did dry. So did the men's cotton business shirts. The rest of it was wet and frozen stiff. It was actually kind of cool. I could remove the clothespins from the clothing and the clothing didn't fall off of the line because it was frozen in place. Hating to remove the board stiff clothing and rehang it indoors, I decided to leave it out overnight and hope that it would dry in the early part of the day tomorrow. We are supposed to reach 41 degrees and it will all dry in the morning. Because of the promising weather, dare I try and get a few more loads hung out after that?
You may wonder why I put myself through hanging my laundry outside and dealing with the possibility of it freezing and such. Why not just hang it inside you may think. Well, I really don't enjoy hanging my clothes up inside the house. It feels so much more like work. I guess that it just suits me better to be outside, feeling the sun and wind and watching my dog explore the yard. Plus you can't beat how clothes smell when they come in off of the line. It is especially good in the cold weather when the clothing hung outdoors brings the fresh smell of winter indoors.
All of the posts that discuss my experiences with outdoor line drying can be found by clicking here.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It has not gone unnoticed by me that my snowblower owning neighbors are able to spend more time sitting by their fire or singing carols around their piano, than communing with their snow shovel on the driveway. They are decked in their Christmas sweaters and gathered around their table as I bundle up for yet another go at shoveling. The snowblowing folks spend a fraction of their time outside, zipping up and down for a few passes and then pop back inside. They spend so little time outdoors, they could almost complete the job while brewing a single cup of coffee if need be.
This may be the year that I need to invest in a snowblower. I can think of a million reasons why it would be a good idea to own one. But something nags at me. The resources used to build it and then the energy used to power it. Also, my trusty shovel never breaks down or needs to be repaired. It is quiet and doesn't send wafts of gasoline smell all over the neighborhood. Just like you don't need a clothes dryer to dry your clothes, you don't need a snowblower to clear your driveway. No matter how great the want feels, you really don't need something if you can do the job without it. It all works out. Expending my own personal energy to hang clothes or shovel the drive gives me a greater level of fitness than simply letting machines do all the work.
I need to remind myself that it really does feel good to spend time outdoors in the cold. Pushing the snow across the drive, lifting and tossing it into a growing pile. Finishing the job gives me a great sense of accomplishment, and a warm cup of coffee afterwards makes a great reward. I will hold off on the purchase until I am old and 80. Maybe then, I will purchase one. On second thought, maybe by then, with global warming, it won't be necessary. Funny to think how if I were to purchase a snowblower today with its belching of carbon dioxide, that I would simply be helping the process of global warming along, and essentially helping to cause the obsolescence of the snowblower...and ourselves too I suppose..
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Well, my son and his friends have been in and out of the house many times refueling on hot chocolate since last weekend and so far they don't seem to mind that I can't warm up their clothing with a dryer when they stop in. If I can just get myself to feel O.K. with it, then I can get past this desire to buy a dryer. Unfortunately, it is the little things like this, the desire for perceived comfort that generates the want, which results in the purchase. Wish me luck in staying strong.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
My outdoor line that I used when the weather was warmer, was just steps from the laundry room which made the drying job simple and possible. I think the key as I move my drying operation indoors for the winter is to continue to keep things simple and enjoyable. Then
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Moving my drying indoors does present some challenges given that I wash at least 3 loads a week. I have figured out a way to hang a total 2 loads of laundry at a time in my laundry room and because the room has a south facing window, things dry fairly fast in there. Larger bedsheets present some problems but I can string them across the room using a combination of hooks and clothespins. It will simply require some creative planning.
Creative planning is really all that has been required to make living without a dryer possible. When my dryer broke at the beginning of the summer, I didn't have a clue about how to go about all of this, but things fell into place fairly easily. Because I didn't have a working dryer to fall back on when things got tough, I just made it work.
Here are a few bits of information I have discovered along the way to make living without a dryer easier:
- reduce the sheer amount of laundry that goes into your wash in the first place. Don't wash clothing until it needs to be washed. Many items can be worn several days before laundering. This is especially important for kids to understand when they seem to think it is easier to wear something once and then throw it into the hamper. I take things out of the dirty wash pile and give them back to my son to put in his closet if they don't pass the "dirty enough" test.
-Don't wash bedsheets or towels as often. Believe me, you can go much longer than what grandma told you when it comes to washing these items, with no adverse affects.
-clothes don't need to be finished off in the dryer to get the wrinkles out after hanging on the line. Granted, clothes do come off the line more wrinkled than out of the dryer, but these wrinkles will fall out soon after you put the clothing on. I believe that your body heat acts like a natural iron, allowing the wrinkes to naturally subside.
I find it interesting that exactly when the outdoor air becomes too cold to dry clothing outdoors, it is exactly when we need more humidity indoors anyway. Bringing the outdoor drying operation indoors at this time of year will add much needed humidity to dry heated indoor air. When the cycles of my life work out and connect like this, I feel like I am operating more in tune with the natural world.
All of my experiments with outdoor line drying can be found by clicking here.
Monday, November 10, 2008
According to weather.com, the temperature in Chicago was 29 degrees this morning when I was hanging my clothes out on the line, with a feel-like temp of 19. I wondered then what the feel-like temperature was for my hands as they repeatedly dipped into my laundry basket full of wet clothing and pinned it to the line. Based on how frozen my hands were as I came back insidethe house, they must have been around 10 degrees at least! I can see where a pair of warm gloves would come in handy.
It was five months ago to the day that my dryer gave out and I have been exclusively line drying all of my clothes since then. This really hasn't been an accomplishment given the sun kissed days of summer, with its balmy breezes, perfect for line drying. No, the real accomplishment as I see it will come this winter as I tackle outdoor winter line drying.
There is a great website devoted to the cause of clotheslines called Project Laundry List
http://www.laundrylist.org/ where they discuss drying clothes outdoors in the winter amongst many other clothesline topics. Here is their response to the question, "Can clothes be hung out to dry in the winter?"
In northern climates, people often ask, "What do you do in the winter time?" Ironically, historic districts are one of the prevalent places that restrict or even ban clotheslines. We ask, "What do you think people did 100 years ago?" Because of sublimation, it is possible to hang out on many below-freezing days. As long as it's sunny, your sheets and other laundry will dry quickly. You just need tough fingers! We suggest purchasing a wooden drying rack or getting another apparatus for indoors.
So, I wondered, did people 100 years ago hang their clothes outside all winter long, or did they hang them in a basement or a sheltered semi-warm place? Also, what is sublimation?
The Library of Congress website http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/journey/household-transcript.html offers up information of what winter line drying was like in the mid-nineteenth century. Here is an excerpt from the page "The History of Household Technology":
One homemaker wrote in her diary on a cold December day, "Left our clothes out but, they cannot dry. They are frozen too hard." The clothes had to be brought indoors and draped on furniture or racks to dry.
After doing a bit of searching, I also discovered the following from the "How Stuff Works" website:
Sublimation can occur when wet clothes are hung out on the line on a winter day when the temperature is below freezing. The water on the clothes freezes and then evaporates into vapor without melting.
I guess in a perfect world, clothes would go from wet to dry on a winter day due to sublimation, but the Library of Congress explanation above probably is closer to the truth. The clothes freeze and fail to dry and end up draped onto racks in the house.
It sounds like winter drying depends on a combination of temperature, humidity, wind, and sunshine just like the factors that impact summer drying. Determining good days for drying in the summer meant keeping a close eye on the weather and I can see this skill will be ever more important in the winter. As fall gives way to winter, I'd like to be able to hang my clothing out as long as possible into November or December before resorting to the use of indoor drying racks.
But I certainly don't want to end up the way my son predicts I will, with a load of wash hung out on the line the day that a foot of snow falls, snowshoes needing to be employed to retrieve my clothing. My neighbors really would think I was crazy then.
By the way, I just checked on the laundry that I hung out almost four hours ago. The sunny day and high temperature of 41 degrees is certainly helping to move things along. The clothing closest to the sun is dry and I removed those items so that the second line will receive full sun. Keeping my fingers crossed that everything is dry by nightfall.
Have any of you tried to dry clothes in the winter and if so, how did it go? I would like to hear from you.
All of my experiences with outdoor line drying can be found by clicking here.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Most suburban kids being raised on poison perfect lawns don’t experience the wildness of nature, the beauty of it. Their yards don’t offer up many opportunities to explore and figure out how the natural world works, to fall in love with the rough bark of a tree, the rushing of a stream, or being tucked deep into the woods. How can these children learn to appreciate nature, fall in love with it, and consequently want to protect it, if they can not spend time in it?
After reading Louv’s book, I became concerned that my son did not have a wild playground in which to explore. My small prairie garden was wild compared to the suburban lawns that surround my yard, but would not present enough “wildness” to satisfy a 12 year old boy. It wan’t much later that my son asked if he could visit the "green green forest" adjacent to the railroad tracks. This scrap of land, about two blocks from my home, has been left wild as a buffer between the railroad tracks and our neighborhood. Fear of the trains and tracks have kept me from letting my son play in this place. But, older now and more responsible, I feel he is ready to explore amongst the reeds and water and trees of this natural area. Though the area is small, to a kid, it appears huge and full of wonderment and I am glad that he wants to spend time there. He and his friends are making their mark on the tree fort and hopefully each successive generation of kids in this neighborhood will find their way to this place. To glean from it what the magic of nature will bring.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Having always understood sustainable to mean organic, I then questioned this farmer about the sustainable farm label on his shirt when he clearly wasn't an organic farmer. He explained that he could call himself sustainable because he used sustainable practices to care for his land, which I felt was really a misnomer given that you can't possibly be caring for the land when you are polluting it with toxic chemicals. I am not sure if was my hunger for fresh local peaches or the farmer's convincing argument that I would not be harmed by the peaches if I peeled them, but I soon found myself carting home some fresh peaches to enjoy.
Problem is, something didn't set right with me, and later that night, I began to do some research. I had two nagging questions:
1) How could the farmer call himself sustainable if he used chemicals?
2) Are peaches that have been doused with lower doses of chemicals using IPM methods really rendered harmless by peeling their skin before eating?
I soon had the answer to my first question when research on the Internet told me that sustainable really was more of a philosophy than a set of rules. Farms had to be certified to be organic, but they did not have to be certified to be called sustainable. I found the following helpful information on a website called Sustainable Table: http://www.sustainabletable.org/intro/whatis/
"Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities.
Characteristics of this type of agriculture include:
Conservation and preservation. What is taken out of the environment is put back in, so land and resources such as water, soil and air can be replenished and are available to future generations. The waste from sustainable farming stays within the farm’s ecosystem and cannot cause buildup or pollution. In addition, sustainable agriculture seeks to minimize transportation costs and fossil fuel use, and is as locally-based as possible.
Biodiversity. Farms raise different types of plants and animals, which are rotated around the fields to enrich the soil and help prevent disease and pest outbreaks. Chemical pesticides are used minimally and only when necessary; many sustainable farms do not use any form of chemicals.
Animal welfare. Animals are treated humanely and with respect, and are well cared for. They are permitted to carry out their natural behaviors, such as grazing, rooting or pecking, and are fed a natural diet appropriate for their species.
Economically viable. Farmers are paid a fair wage and are not dependent on subsidies from the government. Sustainable farmers help strengthen rural communities.
Socially just. Workers are treated fairly and paid competitive wages and benefits. They work in a safe environment and are offered proper living conditions and food.
In 1990, the US government defined sustainable agriculture in Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1683, as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
The confusion with sustainable agriculture is that the definition is more a philosophy or way of life than a strict set of rules, and farmers can interpret the meaning differently. In addition, there is no legal obligation to follow any of the criteria for sustainability, so food can be labeled sustainable when in actuality it isn’t. Many terms that describe this type of food, such as natural or cage free, do not have a legal or clear definition (though the USDA is currently working on this). For example, cage-free chickens might not be raised in cages, but they could be raised in overcrowded conditions in indoor barns, which is still inhumane. That said, we must stress that the vast majority of sustainable farms are run by family farmers who are hardworking, honest and sincere people. They work all hours of the day and night to bring you the freshest, tastiest, best quality food available."
Because, sustainable agriculture is more a way of life than a law or regulation you can't assume that produce being sold by a sustainable farmer is organic.
Researching a bit further, I found the answer to my second question. I discovered on the Environmental Working Group website that peaches are one of the worst fruits you can eat given their pesticide load. There are some excepts from an article http://www.ewg.org/node/22569 on their website, discussing the hazards of eating conventionally grown peaches:
"In order for a regular peach to make it to a supermarket in good-looking condition, it's been sprayed, usually more than once with (possibly with a total of nine different) pesticides. In fact, the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), a primarily foundation-funded, Washington D.C.-based non-profit organization made up of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers had peaches topping its "Dirty Dozen," a list of the most pesticide contaminated fruits or vegetables.
How did peaches, or any other fruit or vegetable get on that list? According to EWG the list was: "... based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2005."
Thanks to peach's soft skin, pesticides easily migrate into the fruit. Washing peaches and other soft-skinned produce minimally alters the pesticide under the skin. Organic fruit and vegetables, by law, must be grown without synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, and cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
So what rounds out EWG's Dirty Dozen? In descending order: apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes (imported), spinach, lettuce and finally, potatoes."
So, there you have it. If your choice is to eat organic, and you have always believed that sustainable meant organic, you should do some research before you eat any sustainably grown produce, because sustainable does not necessarily mean grown without chemicals. Through this experience, I have learned that it is important to ask lots of questions and to do lots of research. Things are not always as they appear to be.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT Notice of Scheduled Adult Mosquito Insecticide Spraying
Please be advised that the City, utilizing the services of Clarke Environmental Mosquito Management Inc., will be implementing a citywide application of insecticide during the period from dusk to dawn tonight, Wednesday, July 30, 2008.
The City and Clarke Utilize a Synthetic Pyrethroid named ANVIL for purposes of controlling the adult mosquito population. ANVIL is safe to humans if applied in strict conformance with the product labeling. Those individuals with asthma and other respiratory conditions are advised to stay indoors with windows closed during and at least 1 hour following the misting application.
ANVIL is applied by Ultra Low Volume (ULV) misting equipment that accurately controls the size of the droplets (50 microns) and the application rates (0.21 to 0.62 of an ounce of ANVIL per acre).
The only conditions that will cause a re-scheduling of the ULV application are the presence of precipitation, high winds or temperatures at the time of application below 55 degrees F. Should a re-scheduling of the ULV application be required, please check the City Web Page for current status.
“Anvil is a pesticide sprayed on Chicago neighborhoods as an attempt to reduce West Nile Mosquitoes.
Beyond Today has opposed the spray due to research showing the spray is ineffective and dangerous.
Here are some of the concerns that Beyond Today community members and organizers have expressed:
-Inadequate notice of the spray has lead to overexposure. Residents are literally sprayed in the face as they cross streets walking babies, bicycling, or eat in sidewalk cafes.
-Research shows the spray is ineffective. Even studies completed by the pesticide companies themselves claim less than a 75% kill rate. Mosquitoes emerge from standing water the next day.
-The standing water removal program is not apparent. 311 calls to remove standing water are ignored.
-The spray contains a carcinogen and other chemicals which are endocrine disruptors and have not yet been adequately studied. This category of insecticide, the synthetic pyrethroids, has been making headlines as new studies reveal alarming correlations with many illnesses. We should not spray this on our children until long term studies show the spray is safe.
-The spray is toxic to bees, fish, and all aquatic life.
-The spray is toxic to dragonflies, which are the mosquito's natural predator. When the mosquito's predators are killed, there is an explosion in the mosquito population and the demand for more spraying.
-The pesticide lobby has paid lobbyists to run op-ed pieces in Chicago papers claiming that environmentalists care more about bugs than people. The only company making money from the spray is Clarke Chemical, therefore, they likely fund this effort.”
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
A year after I installed my rain barrel, a local committee that I belong to began to sell rain barrels at festivals in our community so that others could take advantage of collecting the water that fell on their yards. Pictured above is my son Jimmy and his girlfriend Megan stenciling a demonstration rain barrel in one of our booths this summer.
Our committee has also encouraged local business owners in our downtown to purchase and decorate rain barrels which they then place in front of their business in order to create more awareness about them. As a result of our efforts, people in our town will be holding onto the rain that falls on their property, rather than letting it rush downstream, which will help to recharge our local aquifers and also to reduce the demand on outdoor watering. Drop by drop, I am constantly amazed at all of the simple little things that one can do to bring about real change.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It was not long ago that I heard Ryan express that same sentiment. Before I took Ryan out of school two years ago, he would also find himself bored as the long unscheduled days of summer wore on. After being held in the rigid environment of school all year, being told how to spend each minute, it was hard to for Ryan to transition to the carefree days of summer because he did not know how to fill up the huge blocks of time he was suddenly faced with. The many hours spent in school, learning what the school curriculum deemed important, gave Ryan precious little time to learn about who he was or determine what type of activities he would enjoy exploring if given the chance.
It takes lots and lots of down time to slow down enough to hear your inner voice pulling you toward your interests. It took my son well over a year after being taken out of school to gather his thoughts and begin to express how he would like to spend his time. Initially he waited for me to guide him in his choices, just as his teacher had, but after many months he began to find his way. As he discovered that he was in charge of how he would like to spend his day, he began to feel empowered and after that things just kind of snowballed.
In the last nine months, my son has taken up four new activities, all of his own choosing, which he is happily pursuing this summer. At first it was archery and after gaining confidence in that choice and understanding that he was free to pursue anything he desired, in quick succession over a month’s time, he added fishing, skateboarding and then guitar.
As this summer winds down and we head into fall, Ryan's day will not change much as he continues to pursue these activities and others. His interests will guide his learning then as it does now and this freedom will help to keep him from feeling the boredom he once did.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
The wind power REC’s we purchase from Community Energy cost $2.50 per block of 100 kWh in addition to what we pay our electric company. We began by purchasing four blocks of wind energy per month in early 2006 when our average monthly kilowatt-hours (kWh) used was approximately 850, so that we would be powered 50% by the wind. Late last year, we switched all of the lights in our house to CFL’s which reduced our monthly kWhs by 100. We anticipate our recent switch away from the electric clothes dryer to clothesline will save an additional 50 kWh per month which will bring us down to a monthly average of 700 kWh. In order to be 100% wind power, we now buy 7 blocks of wind energy REC’s per month for a total cost of $17.50. By reducing our electric bill by a total of 150 KWh per month through conservation measures, we have shaved $15 off of our electric bill which practically pays for the 7 blocks of wind energy REC’s. By making these simple changes we are encouraging wind farms to be built which will ensure cleaner air for the future.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Now that it is summer again, I keep watch over the tomato patch each day, sniffing around the vines and waiting. I know it won't be long before it is filled with those warm wonderful red orbs. My mom is so sweet, growing these treats especially for me.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I am immediately struck by the sterile qualities of these subdivisions and find myself comparing them to older more established neighborhoods full of charm and character. Today's developers seem to lack imagination, or maybe they, like many others in our culture, are too profit driven to care about aesthetics. These newly built home boxes, called that by me because they contain few windows and tend to look more like a box than a home, seem to rise up out of the ground, unconnected to their surroundings, an ugly bump on the landscape.
I can’t help but think of what has been taken away in the creation of these subdivisions. The farm fields with their red barns and white farmhouses, or the woodlots with their many animal inhabitants. Prairies filled with grasses and forbs blowing in the wind, butterflies and birds circling overhead.
I am also struck by how this development comes to be in the first place. Unfortunately, when new businesses first come to a rural town, they are welcomed. Living for so long without big box stores and their huge supply of goods, rural town residents are excited about the possibility of not having to drive many miles to the grocery or hardware store. What they may not think about until it is too late, is how these stores are going to change the feel of their town. In the blink of an eye, development steamrolls into town and rips out its character.
Gina’s book is a wake up call to small towns that have not been bulldozed over yet and a call to reclaim those towns that have already been transformed by urban sprawl. Intact rural towns need to be aware of what may be coming and to take steps to advert the changes now. For those towns that have been harmed by sprawl, Gina asks that you think about how you personally contribute to the sprawl lifestyle. When you buy from a corporate owned hardware store rather than a mom and pop operation, you contribute to the economy that supports sprawl.
As Gina says in her book, “As we pave over nature, our pavement becomes more of a reality to us than what lies beneath it”. Her words encourage me to continue on my path of knowing and protecting the natural word while teaching my children about it. I certainly don’t want my children to see pavement as their reality. But as I think about the pavement filled shopping centers and roadways with multiple lanes near my home, maybe they already do.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Each year, as more and more prairie or natural areas are lost to development here in Illinois, wildlife is being edged out and valuable habitat destroyed. Sara Stein in her book “Noah’s Garden” was the first person to make me aware of how I could work against this tide by creating wildlife habitats in my own backyard. Places where animals and insects and birds could forage for food or raise their young.
Sara’s dream was that every yard in each neighborhood would leave a bit of their yard natural so that wildlife would have ribbons of interconnected wild spaces in which to live. With that thinking in mind, over the last 3 years, I have gotten rid of 1,300 square feet of lawn and replaced it with plants that provide food or homes for wildlife. Through the National Wildlife Federation’s backyard wildlife habitat program, which provides all the information needed to create places welcoming to animals, my yard was certified as a backyard wildlife habitat.
The NWF program shows how simple it is to provide for wildlife. All you need to do is provide elements from each of the following areas:
Food Sources. For example: Native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar.
Water Sources. For example: Birdbath, pond, water garden, stream
Places for Cover. For example: Thicket, rockpile, birdhouse.
Places to Raise Young. For example: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond.
Sustainable Gardening. For example: Mulch, compost, rain garden, chemical-free fertilizer.
More information on this program can be found at: http://www.nwf.org/backyard/
There are also many wonderful books written on this subject. Some of the books that I found particularly helpful were:
Noah’s Garden by Sara Stein
Planting Noah’s Garden by Sara Stein
The Wildlife Garden by Charlotte Seidenberg
National Wildlife Federation Attracting Birds, Butterflies & Backyard Wildlife by David Mizejewsk
Creating Habitat and Homes for Illinois Wildlife by IL. Dept. of Natural Resources and University of Illinois
Landscaping for Wildlife by MN. Department of Natural Resources
When I look out into my back yard, it stands in stark contrast to those yards that surround mine. I find it sad that we value close cropped non life-giving lawn over areas brimming with plants which give so much to wildlife. Obviously Sara’s dream will take a long time to come to fruition.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
My plan worked for about a week. After many frustrating bike trips back and forth between home and store for forgotten items, I hung it up. I was obviously addicted to the car culture which allowed me to not have to think before backing out of the driveway. So what if I was only buying enough groceries for one day or forgot something for tomorrow’s dinner, I could easily run out later. But this way of thinking did not work when I switched to the bike. I needed to change my approach to all errands and get organized but instead, I got off the bike.
That was until yesterday. My son and I had plans to meet friends in downtown Chicago to see the play “Wicked” and while I knew that we would be taking the train from our town to the city, I figured that I would take the car from our house to the train station. That all changed when the day dawned perfect for bike riding. We quickly shifted gears and rode our bikes the three miles to the train.
It felt so good to be pedaling down the road, and once at our destination, it was especially good to see so many bikes locked up at the bike racks at the coffee shop in town and at the train station just down the street. Obviously, during my time away from my bike, when I had continued to spew CO2 emissions into the air with my car, others had gotten the message and had switched to greener transportation.
The Chicago area is fortunate to have so many great forms of public transportation and bike paths. It really makes it easy to get out of the car and form a different kind of relationship with the area you are traveling through. Our train trip downtown, about an hour in length, gave my son and me some time to talk and connect in a way that would not have been possible had we been in the car. Once downtown, the availability of a water taxi on the Chicago River, gave us time to make a quick trip over to the Lego store on Michigan Avenue, before walking back to the theatre to see the play. We figure that we used four forms of car free travel yesterday- bike, train, water taxi, and walking. Other options that were available to us that we did not use were bus, trolley, and the elevated train. Maybe another day we will do a complete public transportation feast and use them all.