Tropic to Temperate

The weather last month didn't even hint at the coming Christmas season.  We were getting up to 30℃ (86℉) and ironically, I was spending my free time reading blog posts about the first frost.  

So, when my wife asked me if I wanted to go with her to Chicago for a week, I decided to go and enjoy the cold weather, and hopefully, snow.  

After almost 24 hours spent at airports and on planes, my wife and I decided to check in to the hotel then immediately head out to the Art Institute of Chicago.


My first and own pictures of Hawthorn trees (Genus Crataegus), taken at the South Garden of the AIC.  If someone can help me with the species, I would really appreciate it.


My wife was attending a convention most days so I would take early morning strolls by myself in both Grant and Millenium Parks.  My wife suggested that I visit the Botanic Garden which she had already visited but I kept procrastinating and ended up not going at all.  I mistakenly thought that I would just see mostly poinsettias and almost bare trees.


I enjoyed my walks, quite content passing the patches of grass and delighting in the red-orange colors I had been admiring in photographs only days before.


The only other museum visit my wife and I did together was to the Field Museum.  Mainly to see Sue, the resident T-rex, whose 10th anniversary they were celebrating.


After Sue, we visited the various exhibits in the museum.  I couldn't pass up Plants of the World, now could I?This exhibit features world-famous plants, from algae to orchids, from tillandsias to Manila hemp!  They are mostly made from glass and wax although I noticed that some were actual specimens.

We also visited the Dino Hall of the Evolving Planet exhibit.  Amidst the dinosaur bones were models of cycads! Remember my "Dino Food" post a while back?  Seed bearing plants that formed the roots of the ecosystem.  According to the FM, during the Jurassic period and much of the Cretaceous period, a variety of primitive seed plants (gymnosperms), including conifers, ginkgos, cycads and cycad-like bennettites were the foundation of life on land.  They shaded, housed and provided food for many organisms, from the smallest insect to the largest dinosaur.


There were also several fossils to prove the existence of these plants.


Nilssonia compta. Jurassic (201-144 million years ago) found in Yorkshire, England.


Nilssonia sp. Jurassic (206-144 million years ago) found in Bihar, India.


The leaves in the fossil below were among many found with the skeleton of Sue, the T-rex.  One leaf is a cycad leaf and the other leaves are angiosperm leaves; Nelumbian is an ancient relative of lotuses.Grewopsis saportana, Nelumbian sp., and Nilssonia yukonensis.  Cretaceous. (144 - 65 million years ago) found in South Dakota.Amazing, isn't it?  All the museums I went to were wonderful.  


How was the weather though?  Cold?  Yes.  Windy?  Yes.  Flurries?  Yes.  Snow?  YES!!!


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