Scattered and gridded

by | Apr 21, 2020 | Blog

scribble quilt blues







I feel like one of my scribbled stitched quilts, unfocused, random, easily distracted…

Yet, a couple continues to shoot baskets in the alley across from my building each morning; oddly, I find it a most comforting sound from my childhood. My older brother and his friends would shoot baskets in our driveway. Extra reassurances: the sparrows and the newly born starlings who nest in our alley annually. Without the constant sound of garbage and delivery trucks, I hear their calls. Along Clark and Goethe Streets, I notice just a handful of walkers, runners, and dog walkers. Hardly any cars. 

Replaced by runners, walkers, cyclists dodging others on the sidewalks, the empty streets are strangely silent. The few commercial vehicles that do stop and speed away are the US Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, and Amazon. Now, they also command Chicago’s skies, all but shutting down O’Hare, one of the busiest airports in the world. 

But not anymore. 

On March 26, before the lakeshore closed, I observed a single FedEx plane make a perfect turn overhead as I stood near the subway entrance to Division Street. There, I marveled at how practical and organized Chicago is. 

Chicago’s beaches are named by the street closest to them, for example, Oak street beach and North Street beach. Not as romantic as the beaches near where I grew up: Horseneck Beach (in Westport, MA) or Sachuest beach (in Middletown, RI) but makes it so much easier to find! 

Under the grubby subway, I emerged, reminded of just how well designed Chicago is as space for us TYPE A’s, those who are easily overwhelmed with ideas, worries, or tasks. For example, I live on the “1200” block, meaning that the first building on that block in 1200 and the last 1260. Numbered blocks are those from west or east.

But there are exceptions…

Want to know more about Chicago’s city block grid system, its evolution? Visit chicagology. This factoid explained why I find differences in street names:

Avenue – Streets running North and South. There are exceptions.
Boulevard – Streets where trucks over 5 tons are not permitted.
Court – Short roadway.
Parkway – Street that ends at a park.
Place – Street running the 1/2 block between streets.
Street – Streets running East and West. There are exceptions.

Now I know why my block is named Dearborn Street AND Dearborn Parkway – Dearborn deadends at Lincoln Park.

Perhaps too much information. 🙂

Imagine what that discovery felt like to someone who lived a couple of decades in Boston! There, the random streets and one ways reflect their once probable colonial origins. Many remain cobblestoned.

But try walking or driving over them!

In Chicago, I could walk blindfolded – and easily find my way home. Particularly in these times of uncertainty, I am sure of where I need to go. 

And at this moment, far from family and friends, I take comfort in its grid and my random sewing.

Peace and love while social distancing! Be safe.

Peace and Friendship!

Laura signature with peace sign

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