August 29, 2012

artist date: milk and honey cafe

Last week's artist date led me on a lovely, simple exploration of some city blocks I haven't visited for many years. I commute into Chicago once or twice a week, on average,  to spend time with friends, for shopping errands, or for weekend adventures with Ryan. Lately, I have been in the city more often, for this reason and that, and despite the drive (or train ride, depending on the day), I have loved the chance to spend more days in the midst of all the buzz and swarm of city life. But I've also been feeling a bit of wanderlust. My time in the city has been so focused, busy doing this or that, and it had been weeks since I just spent a day exploring. So I set aside my next artist date to wander the city. 
I boarded my train with no specific destination in mind, but my brain got working on that right away as we raced eastward on the tracks. I had recently driven by a little cafe called "Milk and Honey" on Division, and thought it might be a lovely place to eat my artist date lunch! From the Loop, I took the Blue Line to Damen, so I could enjoy a scenic walk past Wicker Park itself, the neighborhood's namesake. The day could not have been more gorgeous - sunny, breezy, mild - and the neighborhood streets were quiet and serene on the weekday afternoon. After a mile or so, I reached my destination: Milk and Honey Cafe is definitely added to my list of city favorites! 
I enjoyed a delicious Avocado and Smoked Gouda sandwich and side salad for lunch, and then set out to explore the neighborhood. When I was young, growing up in Chicago, this part of Wicker Park was not "hipster" at all, or even very developed- I had a friend who lived around here, and it was a really rough area. As I walked East on Division, I came to Wolcott Avenue, and remembered that this intersection marks the area where my grandmother was raised in the 1920s and 30s, and where my grandparents lived when they were first married in the 40s. It was so surreal to walk these streets now, so many years later, aware of how this neighborhood has changed over time, from my grandmother's youth, to my own childhood, and now to the present, when I was led here for other reasons, oblivious to these coincidences until that very minute. With every step, I felt the significance of so many layers of my personal history laid on this ground. 
Here are some glimpses into my visual journey on this artist date:
 A lovely mosaic mural on the outer wall of Lasalle II Magnet Elementary School.
Michael Grucza's "A House for Sandy" sculpture, part of the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit.

Gorgeous oversized knitting display in the window at nina: a well-knit shop, where my lovely friend Therese once worked! (Another neat layer to my history here...) Hard to capture the whole display because of the light, so I focused on the reflections instead.
As I headed back to the El station to begin my journey home, I stopped at Cipollina on Damen for a Rosemary-Grapefruit Italian Soda by Jo Snow - so refreshing!! You must try Jo Snow soda flavors if you get the chance! 

I am grateful for the time I was able to spend wandering, both literally and figuratively, through these streets and layers of my history. Have you ever had an experience like this, when so many worlds collided for you all at once??

(Learn more about other "artist dates" here!)

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