Springing Forward

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at their March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

Lori and Mike Lyman took to the dance floor in support of the Long Grove Arts and Music Council at the March 10th Jazz & Dance Fundraiser.

The transition from winter to spring is a long and drawn-out process in our part of the Midwest. Each day we are gifted with a few more minutes of sunshine to enjoy, but our gardens and open spaces remain brown, drab, and lackluster. One week we are seduced to leave the heavy coats behind as the promise of warmer weather beckons, only to have another round of sub-freezing temps and snow flurries slap us with a reminder that, in fact, winter is still in charge. Setting our clocks ahead one hour this morning is another positive indication that a new season is on the horizon. The Long Grove Arts and Music Council provided a great opportunity last night to enliven yet one more cold and dreary winter night in the best possible way–with a Jazzy array of food, music, dancing, friends and philanthropy.

To raise funds and excitement for the 2018 Summer Concert Series, a benefit was held at the newly opened Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Long Grove. It was heartwarming to see the many donations local merchants and residents provided for the silent auction. A live jazz band was on hand to provide upbeat entertainment, as supporters and council volunteers mixed and mingled and generally enjoyed the congenial atmosphere. To me, it was another encouraging example of the revitalization efforts in our historic downtown these past several years paying off. Long Grove residents now have many options to come together and socialize locally, and in the case of last night, to also support a group that provides free summer concerts benefiting the broader community at large. And despite the current reluctance of winter to give way, it’s enough to put a little spring in my step!

Ethel Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Ethel Robey-Berger, Arts and Music Council Artistic Director (on the left) and Mary Prekop of the Long Grove Confectionery check out the bidding competition on the silent auction items.

Chocolate Fest 2016

Merchant John Kopecky shows his Chocolate Fest spirit at the start of our weekend festival.

Merchant John Kopecky shows his Chocolate Fest spirit at the start of our weekend festival.

If you are looking for something fun to do outdoors on this gorgeous spring day in Long Grove, come join me at Chocolate Fest! You will meet lovable local characters (like the one in the green wig pictured above), enjoy music, shopping, art and dancing, and of course, indulge to your heart’s content in all forms of chocolate.

Craig Leva, owner of the Long Grove Confectionery with ABC Channel 7 morning anchor Tanja Babich.

Craig Leva, owner of the Long Grove Confectionery with ABC Channel 7 morning anchor Tanja Babich.

To kick off the weekend festivities, yesterday I joined up with other dedicated supporters of our historic downtown for the early morning live broadcast on Chicago’s ABC affiliate, Channel 7. And by early morning, I mean I was scheduled for a live interview with anchor Tanja Babich at 4:45 am! Long Grove was fortunate to have Channel 7 showcasing our Village with live cut-ins from 4:30 to 7:00 am, all throughout the morning news program leading up to “Good Morning America.” One of the many segments featured the Long Grove Confectionery, and the unveiling of a newly created sweet treat available for the first time ever this weekend–the Myrtle Cookie. Yes, I have sampled it’s chocolate, caramel and pecan deliciousness and yes, it is to die for!

Closing out the broadcast was the debut of a special routine for Channel 7 by the students of the In Motion Dance performing arts school here in Long Grove. Dancing to Justin Timberlake’s new release “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” was the perfect way to wrap the show and kick off the festival weekend with energy and smiles all around. Happy Chocolate Fest 2016!

Students of In Motion Dance performed a lively routine to close out the live Channel 7 broadcast.

Some of the students of In Motion Dance who performed a lively routine to close out the live Channel 7 broadcast.

 

Woodland Wonders

Beautiful woodland flowers such as these bluebells are blooming this week at Reed-Turner Woodland.

Beautiful flowers such as these bluebells carpet the ground this time of year at Reed-Turner Woodland in Long Grove.

Last Friday marked the end of a hectic workweek, and I needed to go someplace to relax and mull over a few Village concerns tossing about in my mind. Since it was about as perfect of a Spring day as we get here in Long Grove, I decided to take a stroll through one of my favorite places–Reed Turner Woodland Nature Preserve. Early May is an ideal time to experience this local treasure because a majority of the native Illinois wildflowers are in bloom and it is simply glorious! With the redbud trees flowering alongside the phlox, violets, and Virginia bluebells, the palette of purples at the moment is stunning. Some of the other woodland varieties that I spotted blooming right now include: trout lily, jack-in-the-pulpit, May-apples, and red and white trillium. Several years ago, resident Kathy Wiberg trained me to be a guide at the preserve so that I could lead groups on field trips, and to this day I appreciate knowing the names and stories of so many wonders to be found in the woodland.

But to me, the greater beauty of Reed-Turner Woodland is intangible; it’s not the flowers but rather the serenity of the setting. The first visit I make in the Spring always gob-smacks me with the grandeur of nature and my own insignificance. I came to the preserve this particular day to let the woodland comfort me and to be reminded why I love Long Grove so much. At times, that can be a challenge. I have a favorite bench that sits up high on the ravine, overlooking the curving creekbed below. Our recent Spring rains have left a gentle but steady flow of water over the rocks and fallen limbs, and the murmur of this never fails to soothe my soul. For me, this is a tranquil place where I sometimes ask silent questions. And if I can calm my mind enough to allow peace to come, I will usually hear some answers.

This 36 acres of high quality biological diversity was given to the community many years ago by the Reed-Turner family and in the 1980’s was dedicated as an Illinois State Nature Preserve. The property is currently maintained and restored by the Long Grove Park District, with Barbara Reed-Turner still leading the way for preservation with her ongoing spirit and love for the land. When I need some personal inspiration to keep going, she is one of the residents that I most often think of.

This coming weekend, May 14th and 15th, the Long Grove & Kildeer Garden Club will be holding their annual native plant sale at the log-cabin Nature Center located at Reed-Turner. In addition to knowing that you are supporting the major fundraiser for our local community group (which sponsors a Stevenson High School scholarship and paid summer internships at the Woodland), you can rest assured that the plants for sale will work in your Northern Illinois yard, because they all come from local gardens. If you are interested in visiting the plant sale (I’ll be working on Sunday from 10-12–come say hello!) or strolling the woodland trails, Reed-Turner Woodland Nature Preserve is located at 3849 Old McHenry Road, in Long Grove. For hours and more information please call 847-438-4743.

Track and Field of Dreams

At the ribbon cutting for the new running tract at Woodlawn School (L to R) Lake County Board Representative Sidney Mathias, Me, Buffalo Grove President Beverly Sussman.

At the ribbon cutting for the new running track at Woodlawn School (L to R) Lake County Board Representative Sidney Mathias, Me, Buffalo Grove Village President Beverly Sussman.

Right now we are smack dab in the middle of a Midwestern winter, and springtime is still a couple of months away despite whatever the groundhog recently predicted. So with this blog post I am going to remind you that warmer weather is coming, and with it will be the start of track season. And this year, our local teams at both Woodlawn and Twin Groves middle schools will have beautiful new running tracks on which to perfect their sport. Previously, students had to practice on grass fields with hand-painted lines, but about a year and a half ago School District #96 was able to finally work construction of proper tracks into the capital projects budget. What were once rough practice fields have now been transformed with a paved foundation topped by a rubber surface, sporting permanently painted lanes. The work was accomplished in the summer and early fall of 2015, and I was honored to participate with other local elected officials in the official ribbon-cutting ceremonies at both schools this past October 8th.

Gazing out my window on this dark winter morning, I am dreaming of the days soon to come when I can get back out on the walking path in the spring sunshine. I imagine there are also students at Woodlawn today gazing out the windows at their new athletic field, with the same cabin-fever thoughts as me. Hang on kids, because warmer days are sure to come and when they do, these beautiful improved tracks are ready and waiting!

Spring Fashion Show

One of the few men in attendance was downtown merchant John Kopecky, shown here surrounded by stylish ladies.

One of the few men in attendance was downtown merchant John Kopecky, shown here surrounded by stylish ladies.

The most fashionable place to be in Long Grove last week was at the Mother’s Day Boutique Fashion Show, held on May 7th at the Grove Country Club. This marked the second year in a row for such a stylish event, coordinated by several of the merchants in downtown Long Grove. The evening featured shopping, cocktails, appetizers, and a runway show highlighting the current looks available in our local stores such as Olivia’s Past and Bella Donna Boutique. It was great fun to mix and mingle with so many well-dressed friends and neighbors, and to be inspired by the beautiful new fashions being modeled. Raffle tickets were sold to benefit the fight against Breast Cancer, and to support a group of local women who participate in a walk for the cure. Lady luck was on my side, because I ended up winning a gift certificate for High Tea with Gerri (our lovely Long Grove tea room), complete with an antique china cup and saucer. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to pull together a successful event like this, and I appreciate the local businesses who participated and helped make this all possible. It was an elegant evening of charity, community, and ultra-chic style!

Outdoor Dining in Long Grove

(L to R) Georgia Cawley, Barbara English, and Laurie Borawski attend a recent Historical Society luncheon.

(L to R) Georgia Cawley, Barbara English, and Laurie Borawski attend a recent Historical Society luncheon.

This past weekend, we were blessed with several days of perfect weather—sunny skies, comfortable temperatures, low humidity, and a minimum of mosquitoes. After the long winter we all endured, it was a pleasure to spend time out-of-doors, particularly dining alfresco. As we all know, one of the joys of living in Long Grove is the opportunity to enjoy nature and open spaces from our own backyards. But did you know that many of our local restaurants also offer delightful outdoor dining experiences as well?

My husband and I enjoyed a recent lunch on the outdoor deck of the Long Grove Café. While waiting for our food to arrive we were entertained by watching an unusual bird hunt for minnows in the Mill Pond. I snapped him with my cell phone camera, and identified him later as a Green Heron. We had just been admiring his cousin, the Great Blue Heron, earlier in the week as we sat outside Smokin’ T’s with our Bar-B-Que. Did you know you can view a whole rookery from that spot? Last summer, the Long Grove Artist’s Guild sponsored an outdoor program by local artist Marie Roth, who creates American flags out of reclaimed barn wood. A perfect place to view this wonderful presentation was under the umbrellas of the outdoor dining tables at Enzo & Lucia’s. It is such a lovely location to relax, enjoy a meal, and take in the sights and sounds of Fountain Square. We have also been enjoying Long Grove’s newest restaurant, The Chatterbox, which features a charming outside patio area bordered with flowers and plants. This is truly a local gathering spot, as our meal for two quickly became a meal for four when some friends from the Historical Society stopped by to join us. Dining at the table next to us were Long Grove neighbors, as well. Good food, good friends, and a beautiful springtime night in our own Downtown.

Many other area restaurants offer outside dining, but so often these areas overlook a strip mall, parking lot, or busy road. Long Grove dining offers up a choice of attractive places to enjoy nature and the uniqueness of our Village. This season will be gone in the blink of an eye—enjoy it while you can!