Monday, December 20, 2010
Statues in the snow
Yesterday Greenturtle and I went to the Robert Allerton Park outside of Monticello, IL. As you approach, a banner announces that the Illinois tourism board has designated the park as one of the wonders of Illinois, and actually, I have to agree. Currently owned by the University of Illinois, the park contains the manor and gardens of the later Mr. Robert Allerton, along with several miles of hiking trails along the floodplain of the Sangamon River.
And winter is probably my favorite time to visit it. The gardens and statues seem particularly appealing in the snow. Spring is also lovely, of course...the woods are carpeted with wildflowers. And when the warblers are coming through, that's just magic! Fall is also nice. But you know how some places are advertised as being all season attractions. Let me just say that Allerton Park is definitely a three season attraction. In the summer the mosquitoes are so bad I practically needed a blood transfusion afterward. I've only been one other place where I felt so persecuted by insect life, and that was a swamp. In Texas.
But winter is wonderful. I have included a larger sampling of photos than usual (my photographer Greenturtle is back, now that he's done with school for the time being) because the place was just so moody and lovely. Even though the day was overcast, and there were some snow flurries, it felt perfect. The turquoise color of the Sunsinger statue practically glowed in the strange, overcast light.
Since this blog is called Bird Ephemera, you may be wondering what birds I saw. Well, it's winter, and I suffer from the winter birding curse, so not too many species. Mostly woodpeckers were in evidence, including two red-headed woodpeckers and two pileateds. They were all quite noisy, calling to each other and banging away like crazy at the trees. I also saw a nice tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, some chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches, and a large flock of robins. Unfortunately overcast moody days lend themselves much better to photos of statuary than of birds, so I will have to ask you to use your imagination on those.
I think my favorite part of Allerton is the Fu Dog garden (the Fu Dog is the one at the bottom). There are actually two whole rows of them; in Chinese folklore, the Fu Dogs protected against demons.
And, personally, I think they have their work cut out for them, because take a look at the photos of the Chinese musicians. I've always thought those little statues look positively diabolical. "Can't you picture them coming to life after dark, and running around looking for people to terrorize in the woods?" I asked Greenturtle.
"Now that I've taken their pictures," he said, "they can escape the gardens through their images and terrorize us in our house!"
OK, as anyone who has taken a look at my other blog, Crow's Nest Reviews, knows, I have quite a fondness for horror movies. When I'm not looking for birds, I'm thinking up creepy stories. But seriously, Robert Allerton Park, great fun, great birds, check it out!
And just food for thought...now that you've looked on the images and let the Musicians into your home...well, just don't be surprised if you hear them creeping around at night, that's all I'm saying.