Troll Hunting at the Arboretum

I love Chicago in the summer time. Restaurants open their patio dining on the large sidewalks. People gather along the lakefront with swimsuits and a picnic. We stroll along the riverwalk taking in the skyscrapers around us, the bustling city coming alive in the form of people, smiles, energy. But not this year. This year is quite different, for many. This year, we find ourselves escaping the city, a lot.

We escaped the entire state for a few months in order to be closer to family due to a health emergency. We returned, feeling at ease in our Chicago community that wears masks without issue and keeps businesses open with limitations. I'm so glad to be back in the city, my city. At the same time, when I think of what we can do on weekends in order to get out of the house, often what I come up with is an outdoor activity in the suburbs. We've been exploring state parks, roadside attractions, and most recently we hopped over to the Morton Arboretum to hunt for some trolls. 

We visited the Arboretum last year when Dottie couldn't walk without holding on to our hands. We were able to get up close to the massive, wooden trolls to sit on them, touch them, and pose for photos closely with them. Our favorite part of the troll hunt was the troll camp in the woods. A all-encompassing dome made of forest scraps, as well as a campfire pot that my tater tot posed in with a smile, happy to know that there were no hungry rolls at the camp, only us. 

This time, we visited and my daughter can fully walk and explore on her own. Unfortunately, the campsite was disassembled for COVID19 reasons, in order to discourage gathering around it, I assume. The other trolls on the hunt remained, allowing us to hike to some of the trolls that we missed last year. 

This year, the trolls are also social distancing. There were low fences around each troll with bold flags warning you to keep your distance. It definitely felt less magical, but I appreciate the arboretum's effort in safety. We had our masks for anytime we came upon other groups of people, but the grounds are so large and vast that we were able to keep six feet away from people at all times. 

We're starting another week again. Interestingly enough, after a few weeks of packed schedules recently, it's nice to have a nearly empty calendar ahead. We're free to take advantage of this slower time, with no constant responsibilities. With all of the bad going on in 2020, I'm grateful for these quiet weeks, in order to notice how intense the world is, how intense my feelings are, and to sit with this quiet a bit in order to honor it all. Maybe that's another reason we tend to escape the city a bit; to find some quiet, some calmness, to notice, digest, and honor all of the world around us.


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