Contemplation, Action, and Reflection

April 19, 2020

Conditions at the lagoon

  • 8:00 am
  • 36°
  • Cloudy
  • 14 mpg NW


  • This was the earliest of my observation times so far. I saw very few people during my walk; there was one person fishing, a few workers clearing brush, and a couple of walkers. The chilly breeze kept my sitting time relatively brief.
  • A few geese at a distance
  • Three Mallards
  • Two Cardinals
  • Many chattering Red-winged Blackbirds
  • Gulls overhead
  • A Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Mergansers at a distance
  • Sparrows drinking from the lagoon
  • A Belted Kingfisher

Other observations in Jackson Park

  • Lots of Robins and Cardinals
  • A group of Green Herons
  • My first Northern Shoveler
  • A Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • A few Brown Thrashers
  • The first buds on the Cherry trees

April 10, 2020

Conditions at the lagoon

  • 4:35 pm
  • 57°
  • mostly sunny
  • 16 mph SE


  • There were two firsts during this observation. First, I went on a Sunday as I would be occupied on Tuesday when I typically take my walk. Second, my seven-year-old son accompanied me. He proved to be very enthusiastic about picking up trash as we walked!
  • The beaver swam directly toward me before ducking underwater
  • There were many people out enjoying the sunshine
  • A Red-winged Blackbird
  • A male Cardinal, singing
  • A Cormorant overhead

April 7, 2020

Conditions at the lagoon

  • 12:05 pm
  • 45°
  • 8mph from the east
  • mostly cloudy, then foggy


  • Mallards
  • A male Cardinal
  • One turtle sunning itself on a log was joined by another
  • Tree Swallows overhead (the first of the year)
  • I was back to my original spot this week

Other observations in Jackson Park

  • Geese exhibiting nesting behavior
  • Common Mergansers on the lagoon
  • 2 American Coots
  • Many Ruby-crowned Kinglets (first of the season)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch

March 29, 2020

Conditions at the lagoon

  • 3:30 pm
  • 42°
  • 14 mph from SE
  • Cloudy


  • Sat in the same spot as last week because of another fisherman
  • Heard fewer bird calls this week; seemed windier
  • Yellow buds on Weeping Willows
  • Grass still brown
  • 2 Cormorants overhead
  • Lots of geese, on the lagoon and in the air; 2 geese were chasing another one
  • I saw the beaver again, swimming back and forth. At one point there were some geese in its path and it swam within a few inches of one, seemingly unbothered.
  • I removed some plastic sheeting from the lagoon and collected some other plastics.

Other observations in Jackson Park

  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Mallards
  • Norther Flicker
  • Common Mergansers
  • Red-winged Blackbirds


The lagoon in Jackson Park is near the Obama Library which is not an active construction site. I find myself wondering how the construction, including the many trees which have been taken down, might affect migration patterns this spring. How will the increased tourist presence impact the park and its animal inhabitants?

I’ve now seen the beaver a few times this spring and I’ve started noticing some of the trees which it is in the process of felling. I wonder how its presence in the lagoon affects the ecosystem. Is the ecosystem large enough to sustain its activity without fundamentally impacting the flora?

March 22, 2020

Conditions at lagoon

  • 12:26 pm
  • 48°
  • 18 mph from southeast
  • cloudy


  • I couldn’t sit in my normal spot because a fisherman had claimed it. There were three fishermen in that area of the lagoon this afternoon.
  • There was no ice on the lagoon.
  • I heard many bird calls while sitting by the lagoon.
  • A Mallard couple landed.
  • Two geese flew overhead.
  • A male Cardinal flew from east to west across the lagoon.
  • There was a large flock of male and female Common Mergansers on the lagoon.
  • A beaver swam by as I was observing the lagoon.
  • I pulled a section of chain link fencing out of the lagoon and threw it away. I also collected plastics as I walked to throw away.

Other observations in Jackson park

  • Two American Coots (I think; not sure I’ve seen them here before.)
  • Sparrows
  • Red-winged Blackbirds (lots more since I was last in the park)
  • Many Northern Flickers
  • A Hairy Woodpecker (?)
  • The first nesting Goose I’ve seen this spring
  • A turtle


Randy Woodley quotes a Cree Indian proverb at the beginning of chapter 59. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” Reading this brought me back to 1994. My dad and I were traveling through Central America the summer before my senior year of high school. While in Costa Rica, I bought a t-shirt with this quote printed on the front. A week or so later we were in Venezuela, visiting some missionary friends. I happened to be wearing the shirt and a woman, the mother of a friends I had grown up with, read the quote and then muttered something about hoping I wasn’t turning into one of those tree-huggers.

I hadn’t thought about that brief interaction in a while, but reading the quote in Woodley’s book brought me right back to that moment. I remember feeling confused, not quite ashamed. What was it about my shirt that provoked that quick response?

As I think about a writing project which will include an invitation to American Christians to see our our place within Creation, I’m thinking about that woman and her reaction to my shirt. Will I be able to anticipate those instincts and creatively subvert them?

March 8, 2020

Conditions at lagoon

  • 1:07 pm
  • 37°
  • Wind: 8 mph from the southwest
  • Mostly sunny


  • Two Mallards (male and female) feeding near the shore
  • No ice
  • A few people walked by picking up litter
  • I’d like to learn what the bushes with the red branches on the island are
  • Heard geese
  • Saw one unidentified bird fly to the island an perch beneath a fallen tree

Other observations from Jackson Park

  • Sparrows
  • Crows
  • Geese on park grass
  • Two Buffleheads (male and female) swimming in harbor
  • Common (?) Meragansers (males and females) in lagoon
  • Commorant flying over lagoon
  • Blue Heron on shore
  • Red-winged Blackbird (first of the season)
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Muskrat swimming in the lagoon


I forgot a bag, but was able to pick up some bottles and cans during my walk. I observed an older couple who were collecting large bags full of trash from along the shore of the lagoon.


I spotted the Great Blue Heron only after standing still for a few minutes. It was perched along the shore, in a thicket. There is always a thrill when I realize that a creature has been in my presence without me having noticed it.

I found myself thinking about this week’s readings about the place of humans within creation, especially the themes of interdependence and interconnectedness. I wasn’t intentionally reflecting about this, but more than once the thought came to mind and I lingered over those ideas as I imagined myself as one particular part of the ecosystem in Jackson Park.

March 1, 2020

My view from Jackson Park, looking north over the lagoon.

Conditions at Lagoon

  • 1:15 pm
  • 44°
  • Wind: 5 mph from the south
  • Partly cloudy


  • Lagoon frozen; melting in spots
  • Two Cardinals – male and female – drinking from a melted spot in the lagoon
  • 4 water fowl overhead (Common Goldeneye?)
  • Multiple flocks of geese overhead

Other Observations from Jackson Park

  • Robins
  • Eastern Starlings
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • American Kestrel (observed swooping for prey twice in the Bobolink Meadow)
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (?)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch