Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ray Lake Forest Preserve Opens to Public

The 555 acre Ray Lake Forest Preserve, site of the former Ray Lake dairy farm, is now open to the public.  The farm's signature sculpture has been refurbished and proudly welcomes visitors to the preserve.

The entrance is on Erhart Road north of Gilmer Road and west of Fremont Center Road.  (From  Fairfield Road, go east on Gilmer and then left - north - on Erhart.  From Route 60, go west on Erhart past St. Mary's school, cross Fremont Center Road, and go north to the parking lot.)

The parking lot accommodates  25 vehicles and offers washroom and drinking facilities. It appears to have one of the new solar powered gates that open daily at 6 am.

The 2.4 mile blue trail loops the property, passing meadows and wetlands and traversing several small woodlots. The Fort Hill Trail (which begins at the Route 176/Fairfield intersection) follows the left side of the loop and will eventually head east to Fremont center Road and then over to the Lake County Fairground on Peterson Road. (Click to enlarge map.)

Halfway around the loop you'll find this intersection.  The Ray Lake blue loop trail continues to the left, and on the right is the Ft. Hill Trail heading a half mile to the Gilmer Road underpass currently under construction.  When the underpass is completed, visitors will also be able to park at the Gilmer parking lot (between Fairfield and Route 176) and walk the underpass to reach this intersection.

The trail utilizes three boardwalks to cross wetland areas. Squaw Creek is located on the southwest corner of the preserve.

A grass trail takes hikers on a .4 mile side loop around a wooded area, with a branch trail to the Fremont Elementary and Middle schools on Fremont Center Road

An observation area overlooking the wetlands and woods has a plaque announcing that the area "is in memory of Lucy Holman, nature lover and biking enthusiast, whose generosity helped to construct this trail."  Fittingly, from this lookout I spotted a large buck 200 feet away at the tree line.  

Thank you Lake County Forest Preserve District, for yet another wonderful preserve

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"It Is Well with My Soul" by The Isaacs

Sonya Isaacs relates the story behind this hymn, explaining the tragedies suffered by the composer, Horatio Gates Spafford, including losing his young son, then losing all possessions in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and later the death of his four daughters in a shipwreck, and how when passing over their watery grave, he composed these words, sung by the Isaacs in their incomparable a cappella style...

For more on the Isaacs, see my post here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Palatine Concert Band Performance

Another evening of magnificent music by the Palatine Concert Band last night. Conductor Ron Polancich led the group in four selections, and then after the intermission, he turned the baton over to Colonel Arnald Gabriel, conductor emeritus for the United States Air Force Band, for six rousing numbers.

The Palatine Concert Band is a volunteer adult organization which provides an outlet for both avocational and professional musicians to perform fine wind band literature.  While some members are highly-skilled, active performers, most are teachers, business professionals or retired individuals with one common characteristic — a love of learning and performing the finest musical literature.

Rachel Barton Pine and Ars Antigua Concert

The 22nd Chicago Humanities Festival presented "The Adventurous Violinist" featuring Chicagoan Rachel Barton Pine, internationally acclaimed violinist, accompanied by equally acclaimed Ars Antigua as her "backup band."

Rachel is a Chicagoan and as a child was a prodigy on the violin.  She began playing when three and a half, and at age seven she debuted with the Chicago String Ensemble, and three years later she played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  At age 14 she was forced by circumstances to contribute significantly to her family's expenses by taking jobs playing at weddings and in orchestras. She says she managed by "putting on a lot of makeup and pretending I was older than I was."

Her interests and talent take her from classical music to heavy metal and she plays with groups from both these genres.

For 17th and 18th century pieces she prefers to use an unaltered 1770 instrument of Nicolo Gagliano, and for tonight's concert she played the rare Viola d'Amore, a 12 string instrument with a beautiful warm sound, also crafted by Gagliano as she enhanced the audience with Vivaldi concertos.

She founded and runs the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation (using her maiden name) to promote the study and appreciation of classical music, including string music by black composers.

Ars Antigua is a term that refers to the music of Europe of the late Middle Ages (1170 to 1310) and they perform music from the Renaissance through Classical eras on period instruments. They are renowned for their technical excellence, emotional impact, and historical scholarship.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Leaf Raking Project

Today, 24 of us from the Village Church of Barrington assembled at the 2 acre home of an older lady who had lived in the house since 1946, and we raked her leaves as a service project by two of our church's small home groups (click to enlarge photos).

The weather cooperated, with bright sun and mid-fifties temperature...

Many hands (and rakes) made fast work of the 2 acres of fallen leaves...

The grateful woman supplied cider and donuts for the workers, which was much appreciated...

About 55 bags were filled and placed near the road for pickup next week...

Here are some of the volunteers along with "the lady of the house" (third from left)...


Additional photos can be seen and downloaded here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ansel Adams Photo Exhibit

The Lake County Discovery Museum, located in Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda, Illinois, houses displays depicting the history of Lake County in a fun learning environment. It also displays the nation’s largest permanent exhibition on the history and significance of postcards. Finally, temporary exhibits in the special exhibition galleries take inspiration from art, history and popular culture.

The current exhibit is a national touring exhibition featuring works by celebrated nature photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) and runs through January 8, 2012. Today after hiking 5 miles in the preserve, we visited the exhibit which is comprised of 70 of his photographs. Below is his self-portrait photo...

Born and raised in San Francisco, Adams took his first photograph at the age of 14 using a Kodak Box Brownie while on a family holiday in Yosemite National Park, and by the 1930s, he was a famous American photographer and on the way to becoming internationally acclaimed. He tied his two great loves of photography and the outdoors into a reputation as celebrated photographer and vocal environmentalist and devoted his life to capturing the changing beauty of the natural world, from the monumental in size to the smallest in stature. (The silver gelatin photographs in this exhibit are the Museum Set Edition from the Anne Helms Collection.)

This shot particularly appealed to me because last year, on a trip to Utah, I stayed in the town of Manti in the Temple View Motel, a small ma-and-pa place across the street from the magnificent Manti Temple (click to enlarge photos). Though not allowed to enter the structure, I was able to walk the grounds and observe and photograph it from all sides (though none as spectacular as Adams' shot of course!)

A few years ago I backpacked in Arizona's Canyon de Chelly and enjoyed seing Adams' photo of the famous White House Ruins...

Yosemite National Park was Adams' favorite area, and having camped there 4 days just 2 months ago, I loved seeing his photos of this majestic scenery...

Half Dome, Merced River, Winter

Vernal Falls

Moon and Half Dome

The exhibit runs through January 8th and a token charge of $6 is collected at the door, with a special price of only $3 for those over 55 and students between 18 and 25.  Children are $2.50.  For more info, go here.