Father’s Day at Palmisano Park
This weekend I went to Palmisano Park with Judy and our older son Daniel. Our younger son David is in Minnesota, but he and I had a nice talk on the phone.
Palmisano is an award winning park in the old and very urban neighborhood of Bridgeport (historic home of the Daley clan), south of the Loop. Work on the park began in 2009 on the site of a quarry that for 40 years had been used as a dump for construction debris. Today the park includes prairie and wetland habitats as well as a two acre pond.
We started off with lunch at Pleasant House, about a 10 minute walk from the park, a place that specializes in English-style meat pies. Suitably fortified, we headed out to explore this 27 acre pocket of nature in the city.
You enter from busy Halsted Street, coming to a fountain that recalls the cranes that were used in the old quarry. All the water that falls on Palmisano Park stays in the park, and water circulates from the pond to the fountain and back.
The walk to the pond is a steady descent. Overall, I thought the restored habitats seemed remarkably lush and full given that they had not been planted until 2011.
Along the way, we got to see some wildflowers. Right now is not when the prairie is at its most colorful, but we got to see both smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis), and a blue variety I didn’t recognize.
There was also Coreopsis (I think it was C. lanceolata, but I couldn’t get close enough to tell).
Daisy fleabane was blooming (Erigeron strigosus).
Also, purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) was in evidence, although the flowers didn’t yet have the blooms that remind me of purple tutus.
As we descended, we got to watch shallow waters flowing and trickling downhill, occasionally channeled into little waterfalls. Much of the construction was done with slabs of repurposed concrete.
As we transitioned into the wetlands, we saw some blue flag iris (Iris versicolor).
There was also common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) and a wetland grass unknown to me but interesting-looking nonetheless.
I enjoyed seeing the sun reflect off the flowing water as we got closer to the pond.
Palmisano Park was designed with the environment in mind, but it is very people-friendly. There were joggers, walkers, and kite flyers. Once we got down to the pond we found several families on fishing expeditions. I don’t know if they caught anything, but the state Department of Natural Resources keeps the pond stocked with fish.
We also saw a father supervising his kids as they played in the shallow water. I’m not sure why, but there is something about moving water that is magical for children, and ideally all should have the opportunity to play in a quiet stream.
After we were done walking, we retired to Bridgeport Coffee (at 31st and Morgan) where we had a long relaxing talk over some excellent iced coffee. If you find yourself in the Bridgeport neighborhood, this place is definitely worth visiting. Great coffee, pleasant and informal atmosphere, and good service. Oh, and they also have locations in Hyde Park and in the South Loop on Roosevelt Road.OK, full disclosure: the brother of a good friend of mine is a part owner. However, I didn’t learn this until after I had been there, and I had already decided that I really liked it.
I hope to get back to Palmisano Park later in the summer when more of the prairie flowers are in bloom and the grasses have reached their full height. And, of course, visit Pleasant House and the Bridgeport Coffee Company.
Did you do anything special for Father’s Day weekend?