(james benedict brown) on the road

A walk in the park

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 27 September, 2007

Insomnia hits me hard some times, harder than I realised it was capable of affecting me. I’ve begun to self-diagnose the symptoms and the causes, normally a backlog of very minor worries that have dug into my subconscious… work, studies, money or perhaps that intoxicating combination of all of the above. One very early morning in Chicago last week these bubbling thoughts penetrated my short dreams and dragged me kicking and screaming to the nocturnal surface. It was just becoming light outside and another hot day was coming. Tossing and turning on the bed of my kind host, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t calm my worries about the new term.

Letting myself out of the apartment quietly (with bemused glances from two feline cohabitants) I walked the half block to the eastern edge of Chicago. Chicago sits right on Lake Michigan, with skyscrapers and apartment blocks built to within a stone’s throw of the water’s edge. Only the roaring Lake Shore Drive and grassy Lincoln Park separate the city from the water, the park cushioning the city from the expressway and offering permeable routes beneath it to the edge of the lake.

It was, by now, almost seven o’clock, and the early morning rush hour traffic towards Chicago’s ‘loop’ was beginning to thicken. Cars and buses roared past, separated from the park by only a fence and some shrubbery.

After passing beneath Lake Shore Drive the park opens up to spacious parking areas and sandy trails. For the first time in Chicago I saw people on bicycles, although in the typical American approach to cycling, they weren’t actually using their bikes to go anywhere, they were just cycling back and forth along the park for exercise. Joggers, walkers, power-walkers and yoga practitioners were dotted out amongst the park, all enjoying the cool morning breeze that wafted in off the lake. This lake is better imagined as a small inland sea. Michigan is somewhere over the horizon, a very long way away.

There was even some wildlife too…

…although the wildlife seemed more interested in me than the sunrise.

I turned north along the shore, making only eye contact with the other early morning risers. At one curve near where Foster meets Lake Shore Drive there’s a beach, and a small congregation of people was there on the sand sharing handshakes and hugs. Some kind of small ceremony appeared to have recently finished, and people dressed in sarongs and colourful clothes appeared to be wrapping up some early morning event.

Meanwhile, in the background, a city employee in a tractor pulled a sand cleaning device across the beach.

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