The Indian Boundary Line

Old houses have always seemed to me like chapter books of rooms: full of stories about the past, if you have time to read them. There were plenty to explore or “read” in the old Chicago neighborhood where I grew up. The apartments and houses of my parents and friends had well-worn wood floors, carved […]

Empty Churches

I have a melancholy, hopeful love for abandoned churches. I visited this one last winter, meeting one of our Bishop’s staff to pick up some used furniture, cassocks, and hymnals for St. Benedict. The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany was built in 1885 and closed in 2011. It’s located in the medical district of Chicago, just west […]

Images of America: Bolingbrook

I bought the book Images of America: Bolingbrook at Village Hall last week. It was put together for the 50th anniversary of the village this year. I was pretty excited to look through it – but I couldn’t help but notice that there weren’t as many images of people of color as I was expecting. This may be because when […]

Death On Campus

Here at Kenyon College, there’s a graveyard on campus. I’m here this week for a writing workshop and I stumbled across it on a walk. I found gravestones from the 1830s and the 1990s, including those of professors and alums. I’d never seen a college graveyard before. It must be a great source for campus jokes. But […]

The Lonely Old Sugar Maple

In 1820, before any Europeans had settled down in Barbers’ Corners or anywhere around here, Illinois was about two thirds prairie land – no trees, just miles and miles of waving grasses. Trees could be found in small groves around rivers, streams, lakes, and isolated places here and there. But by 1900, the prairie had almost entirely been plowed […]

Barber’s Corners

For a long time, there was a sad and empty stone marker in the corner of a parking lot at one of the busiest intersections in Bolingbrook. For 150 years, this place was “Barber’s Corners.” You’d miss the marker if you weren’t looking for it: The Bolingbrook Historic Preservation Commission installed a plaque here in 1979. […]

My Patch of Earth

I’ve always wanted to tend a piece of ground. I remember Sarah in The Secret Garden, who moves to her uncle’s estate and is sort of lost – a little girl in the vastness of a lonely house. She asks him: “Might I have a bit of earth?” “Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?” “To […]