I am a 10+ year member of the Morton Arboretum. It is my peaceful place. I try to go there to bike at least once a week and in the winter to cross-country ski when there is snow. It is a beautiful, peaceful, tranquil place that feeds my soul. When my triathlon was canceled this past June due to weather, I drove to the Arboretum and began my own triathlon, with a bike and run, prior to a later swim. It was much more difficult than the Naperville triathlon would have been.
But this story centers on my daughter and I. Starting when she was 4, soon after we adopted her from China in 2010, until maybe she was 6 or 7, I biked with her at the Arboretum in her Burley bike trailer. The hills were killers, especially when she would ask me questions as I was struggling, pulling her up the hills! We would always stop with a picnic lunch at Lake Marmo, at our Bear Cave. You didn't know the Arboretum had a bear cave? It is the big Maple with roots going into Lake Marmo. For some reason my daughter started calling it the Bear Cave. We loved it there. The changing seasons. The shade. The bass. The huge catfish, which my daughter called Kitty fish. An occasional turtle. We loved to feed the fish, and as the roots go out over the water, we were quite close to them. We took such joy in the small intimate hidden space, with our lunch and our fish. It was a time of bonding early in our relationship that I will forever cherish. Now, when we hike there, I still feel some of that same joy when we enter the Bear Cave and see our Kitty fish. I long to go back to those simpler times.