Posted inNews & Politics

Field & Street

Healthy soil is a living thing. Stable soil profiles are structured in a way that supports the ecological communities that live in them. These communities grow over time, not unlike any living organism, and make the soil resistant to erosion. Prairies in particular have incredibly thick layers of humus-rich topsoil, deposited over millennia. The tough […]

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Field & Street

Aliens are crawling all over the place. They are burrowing into the body of our native land. They are nesting in its gut, clotting its arterioles, replacing the flesh of the land with their own. Wherever the land is disturbed, and our land is certainly disturbed, aliens deposit their seed and burst out with maggoty […]

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Field & Street

When the ditches are full of purple loosestrife, in bloom during July and August, it is a treat to drive along the highways. It is happily a common sight since the seeds are carried far and wide by the ditch waters. –Katherine McKenzie, Wildflowers of the Midwest Although McKenzie doesn’t describe herself as either an […]

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Field & Street

In the 70s, when Rufino Osorio was just a teenager, he used to take the Montrose Avenue bus west out to the Des Plaines River. He would scout the woodland openings for remnants of the vast prairie that once spread out there, before O’Hare and Woodfield and Morton Grove existed. That is what Osorio liked […]

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Field & Street

The summer heat has gotten sullen. Zucchini and tomato plants thrive in the sweating air. My zucchini explode at dawn with gigantic yellow blossoms, and before you know it inflate their fruit to the size of dirigibles. I walk from neighbor to neighbor offering these fine logs of food, good only for zucchini Parmesan and […]

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Field & Street

My young son, Eli, and I ran to the river to see what was splashing. We arrived to see the flashing caudal fin of a fat goldfish spawning in the lush outgrowth of arrowleaf and elodea. This was a happy sound. The whole scene was bittersweet and happy. The emergent and submerged aquatic plants are […]

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Field & Street

My father bought a can of ant killer from the hardware store. I think he liked this can because it was so compact, square with a pointed dusting nozzle, and it packed such a wallop. He stuck the nozzle into the entry hole of a pavement ant colony, in the crack between two sidewalk slabs, […]

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Alley Hoop

During the annual Bulls playoff frenzy we come under pressure from the youth of our neighborhood to repair our alley’s basketball facilities. A phalanx of neutered backboards flank the alleyway, the rims slam-dunked and hang-timed to twisted wreckage by dreamy-eyed kids working through growth spurts. Laura, my neighbor, got hers secondhand, a heavy-duty, homemade job, […]

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They stand in the morning sun. Twenty fourth-grade students. Binoculars pressing into their eye sockets. Sue Friscia points across the baseball field behind the school to where a group of throaty seabirds squat. “Uhhh. Ring-billed gull,” one child shouts. Nineteen others chorus the same answer a second later, “Ring-billed gull.” Friscia is a science resource […]

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Field & Street

Eli was standing in the backyard holding a crust of dried French bread he’d swiped from the bird feeder and talking to a crow, a long rambling conversation of ten minutes or so. He leaned forward, lips extended like a bill, and squawked in the raspy language of the crow perched two houses down on […]

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Field & Street

Our river wasn’t always so sluggish. It used to patter through this neighborhood, a serpentine meander through cottonwoods and willows, bouncing against the sandy rise to the east and the ancient lake bottom gently sloping up to the west. On the 1905 plat map the river snaked right through my alley. My neighbors on streets […]

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Field & Street

Ears are one of those body parts that strike us as funny–silly, floppy pieces of boneless flesh of infinite varied designs, colors, and contours. All the actual hearing hardware is deep in the ear canal, so you get the idea we could do without these things. Yet we know to cup our hand into an […]