Letters from Birdland: Endings and new beginnings

In Birdland, we search for beginnings folded into the endings.

One of the African violets that Michael tends has sent up a tiny bouquet of buds, one of which has opened: tiny, purple petals encasing bright yellow anthers, like beads in a velvet box.

It's not just about the downhills

CHAMPAIGN — Five or so years ago, the Champaign Ski Club tweaked its name to more accurately describe what it does.

It's now known as the Champaign Ski & Adventure Club.

As publicity chairman Larry Eyre said, the club members do a lot more than ski.

Letters from Birdland: That's a wrap: Chickens ready to brave the cold

Birdland is under an Arctic chill. The cobblestone path leading to our kitchen door is glazed with ice. Beware all ye who come visiting. Walk carefully on the path. The trees and bushes, now bare of leaves, are glazed too. The sky is a dome of gray, and the afternoon is dusky. If only the sun would break through, we would see the diamonds in the trees.

Tom's #Mailbag, Dec. 23, 2016

Question for Tom? Ask it here

A little bit of local history and a lot more about restaurants in this week’s holiday edition of the mailbag.

Letter from Birdland: Dog gives us a scare with all-night romp

At our house, we sing a song. It goes like this: "She's a good dog/Sometimes/But sometimes she isn't/She's a good dog/Sometimes/But sometimes she's bad."

Rain, ice making streets, sidewalks slick

Rain on top of ice made for perfect conditions for car accidents and falls Saturday.

University of Illinois students celebrating the end of the semester tread carefully as they posed for parting photos in temperatures right at the freezing point.

UI solar farm's first year as bright as expected

CHAMPAIGN — Despite a slightly cloudy year, the new University of Illinois solar farm performed close to expectations during its first 12 months of commercial operation, data show.

Weekend Planner: Under the dome

The last two shows of 2016 at the Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will be full-dome events with seasonal topics: "Santa's Secret Star" at 7 tonight and "Season of Light" at 8.

"They're both programs that project over the entire dome," said David Leake, planetarium director. "We add a little live segment to both of them."

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Clean water is a human right

Water is life.

So say members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies in North Dakota, who seek to halt completion of the Dakota Access pipeline and name themselves Water Protectors. Among the thousands of Water Protectors are many who have put their bodies on the line and faced violent response from militarized police and private security forces.

Water is life.

Top of the Morning, Dec. 12, 2016

By Rick Danzl

The announcement that the nuclear power plant in Clinton wouldn't be closing was big news.

But when I was assigned to travel to DeWitt County to photograph Gov. Bruce Rauner for the signing of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, I wasn't aware how big it was.