We were three minutes away from Utica when it started to come down in sheets. There’d been a 40% chance of rain on the always reliable Weather Underground. But for us weathering overground, things looked different through our wildly waving windshield wipers. So we pulled into an ice-cream shoppe and looked at one another. Kathryn nodded, “We can do this.” Alissa gave that Alissa shrug and smiled. Heads bobbed in agreement. People pulled up their hoods, slipped into their slickers, and we drove down the long, green corridor that leads into the state park at Starved Rock.
And, as you can see from Kathryn’s camera above, the hike was really good. The nine of us, all told, got very, very wet. But, as your blue jeans get muddier and muddier, as your hair starts to hang down–if you should be so blessed to have such hair–as your shoes get squishier and squishier, you find yourself welcomed into a sabbath from self-consciousness. The important question stops being, “How do I look?” and starts being, “What can I see?” (Here’s what Hannah Wasco was seeing.)
Starved Rock is a lovely place in the pouring rain, so there are plenty of places to look. But with the air so full of moisture, what you see feels somehow mediated. It feels a little quiet, a little secretive, a little reserved. Not that we were reserved, especially when we came to Lover’s Leap.
One of the funny aspects of going on a field trip in a group these days, is that it’s difficult to take a picture of anything without there being one corner in the image somewhere with a person also taking a picture or reviewing a picture or fondling an electronic device of some sort of another.
In my preparatory email, I had counseled students to bring a slicker. Some did.
Some of us did not. But what we all forgot was an extra change of clothes. So when we stopped for supper, the verb “Culverized” took on new, frigid significances for us. We still ordered ice cream, if only to hang on for a moment longer to the savor of the day. Here’s one last moment of finery from our trip via Kathryn’s camera.