Mary Lucille Hays

Mary Lucille Hays

Letter from Birdland | Time to enjoy old favorites and garden surprises

We are looking for rain in Birdland, but the forecast keeps getting pushed ahead like the clouds crossing the prairie that don't have time to stop. First, the rain was supposed to come Friday, then today, and now they're saying Tuesday.

Letter from Birdland | Fine dining in Chicago: Great food, great time

A heavy drizzle is falling on Chicago, and traffic is crawling on Lake Shore Drive. The sky is muffled in low clouds like damp cotton wool, and the lake to our left is a flat greenish-gray.

Letter from Birdland | Flowers have started putting on a show

It's hot in Birdland, and we're looking for rain. Michael mowed a little plot in the corner meadow last week. My husband helps me with my vision of a winding path through prairie plants and flowers, and now we're working on a vegetable patch in the middle of it.

Letter from Birdland | City, country have similarities

Birdland is hot and steamy, but we are in Chicago again. I'm enjoying this dual city/country life. I wouldn't want to leave the farm, but in Chicago, I can see the benefits of city living. Sometimes the city even helps me see my home more clearly.

Letter from Birdland | Changes show life is a process

Yesterday, a front came through Birdland, sweeping away the heat. Gayle came for a walk just before sunset, and we delighted in the cool breeze. She brought another load of plants from her yard — white peonies, vinca and black-eyed Susans. You can never have too many Susans.

Letter from Birdland | Be a friend to fireflies

The turning of the seasons brings a constant show of new surprises. You'd think I've seen enough lightning bugs by now that their first flight of the summer wouldn't startle me, but it did.

I was coming in from the dusky yard and turned back for a moment looking out into my corner meadow and lo! The pin-prick sparkles of fireflies floating and gliding through the darkness.

Letter from Birdland | Dandelions make me happy

In Birdland, poppies are popping, but lilacs, redbuds and even the ornamental quince have already faded.

In spring, the cycle turns in dizzying display, and various irises are blooming now. I had forgotten I planted so many varieties.

Letter from Birdland | Our little fish is swimming away

A little more than 22 years ago, we were at the firefighters' fish fry, an annual all-you-can-eat fundraiser for our volunteer fire department. I enjoyed my dinner and lost track of how many times I went back for seconds. Later that evening, in the maternity ward, I realized I probably shouldn't have enjoyed it quite so much. But eventually, we had a little fish of our own to bring home.

Letter from Birdland | Transplanting wild flowers

This time of year, you can find me mostly at my desk, grading papers to beat that final deadline, but I tell my students that they don't want me to grade when I'm fatigued, so I take lots of breaks. I do it for the students.

Letter from Birdland | Reading is alive and well

Chicago is overcast this morning. We have come up for the Battle of the Books, an elementary and middle school contest where teams compete for glory and honor.