Thursday, October 22, 2009

Poplar Creek Forest Preserve

In the six years or so that I've lived in northwest Cook County, Illinois, I've driven a lot of miles and spent a fair amount of time seeking out novel territory, much of it in far-away states and Canadian provinces. Yet I've never done anything more than drive past the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve, a unit of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Poplar Creek is an enormous piece of undeveloped land, 4200 acres, only about a ten-minute drive from my house, and features about nine miles of trails -- something I hadn't realized either until I took a close look at a map of the place recently.

With the weather fine, I decided on Wednesday to finally get around to taking a walk at Poplar Creek, even though I had plenty else to do. I started just shy of the Mile 4 marker off Bode Road and walked to the Mile 3 marker at the edge of Bode Lake South, and then back. I actually remembered to take a camera.

A steady trickle of leaves dropped from trees along the walkway, but large parts of the terrain were browning grasses. Late-season grasshoppers and crickets made noise and sluggishly crossed my path. For minutes at a time, the only other reminders of people were the pavement of the path itself and the low background din of traffic, impossible to escape at any time in this part of the world, though a handful bicyclists, joggers and walkers passed me by as well.

A hulking willow tree grows near the Mile 3 marker, along the shore of South Bode Lake. This is it, a mix of yellow and green at this exact moment in the year.

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