Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, the family's mixed Lab.
Barreling up Route 394 last night, one of the teens asked from the back seat of our beater van, ``How did you find this place?''
As I pulled together the answer last night, I felt blessed to lead the life I lead.
A gray squirrel scampered off as the meathead and I set off this morning, much later than expected.
Part of the slowness this morning is from a week-long battle with a jaw infection. I am just run-down. Part of it was not getting done with running around our second boy's teenage band mates until well after midnight.
More light snow, enough to dust the road and sidewalks white, enough to hide the slick frozen puddles.
Enough to bring out the inner Lab in the meathead. He pranced around, well, like a meathead in the snow.
Writing about the outdoors around Chicago has led me all over. And, when I followed my instincts, it often led down some interesting side paths.
One of those interesting side paths led to last night.
Dave Mueller, owner of Paul Henry's Art Gallery in Hammond, kept trying to reach out to me last year about an exhibit of the Porter family wildlife and nature art at his gallery for my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM.
I finally did something with him on it, then fell in love with the gallery space. It is his family's former hardware store/paint shop, now a gallery with remnants of the store and shop adding ambiance.
It is the coolest gallery I have ever been in.
Two doves flew off by the side rail as we neared the town pond. Red-winged blackbirds trilled by the edge of the north old clay pit, which is still frozen solid.
The north end of the south pit was open on the northern half, all the way from bridge over the neckdown between the two pits to where the inflow pipe from the ditch to the east comes in.
Yet, at least for now, the ice fishermen have left their ice shanty out on the ice cap holding on the south end of the south pit.
My wife and I went to the closing of the Porter Family exhibit--it's very good representational wildlife art, think of the wildlife art auctioned at banquets for Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited or the National Wild Turkey Federation--last year.
While there, Mueller mentioned the Acoustic Jam/Open Table Potluck he held on Thursday nights.
A few weeks later I took the teenagers, then known as Face 2 Face, there for their first major public appearance. It went well. And to their credit, they were arty-farty enough to enjoy the art gallery aspect within the context of a hardware store and the company of fellow musicians to truly enjoy the night.
So I promised we would go back.
By now, several months later, they had added a couple more band members and changed their name to Literally Anything.
Last night, we drove up with a big pot of my chili and a pan of my wife's bread pudding--Mueller knocks a few bucks off the entry if you bring food for the potluck or are a performer.
At least 10 doves fluttered off by the old rail bed, now a trail, above the south end of the south pit. They only went a tree or two away.
Mourning doves have been the story for nearly two weeks now.
L.A. did fine. In fact, they tore it up and the crowd asked for an encore.
I tried to keep from being overly proud. But it was very cool to see them perform well enough to quiet a room that had become quite loud with side conversations.
They did two covers, then one of their own.
They did well enough that a Chicago filmmaker set them up in the back corner of the gallery later and did a shoot with them.
We'll see what that means.
Meanwhile, I got to listen to my kind of people play and perform.
It felt like an arty-farty home.
At least six gray squirrels and a mess of doves scattered from under the trees where a neighbor spreads bird seed as we neared home.
A cardinal called from the top of a tree in another neighbor's backyard, but I could not find him.
To his credit our teenage son was up, despite the late night, and on his way to school on time.