Fermilab… and bison!


Yesterday it rained pretty much all day, so I stayed inside and took care of many overdue administrative and communications tasks.

Today, however, northern Illinois showed me that it is indeed capable of near-perfect weather. I took full advantage, and visited a unique place, just a few miles away from my hosts in Warrenville.

From Wikipedia: “Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.” (Please click the link to learn more about it; I cannot summarize it, but it’s pretty interesting.)

In addition to the physics research they do there, they have a theater/auditorium that they opened up for public use some years ago (in that distinctive building that gives me Radiohead OK Computer vibes); paved bike paths throughout; a village where people actually live; an on-site bike-share program; and perhaps most amazingly, a herd of bison. (Again, please click the link for more info on the history and details of the herd, which has been on site since the lab’s founding in 1966.) I counted at least 35 head this afternoon. One of them was “wallowing” repeatedly, which was quite a sight to see. I was glad to learn, after the fact, that it is not a sign of distress or illness.

When I arrived, the security officer posted at the entry checked my ID, and issued me a sticker authorizing me to be on site for the day.

After meandering through the cornfields and other natural sights of Fermilab for about an hour, I returned home and had an incredibly interesting and wide-ranging “magical meeting” phone call with a fascinating man in Princeton, Illinois, about 87 miles southwest of here. (More on him later, I believe.)

Then I spent some time with Terri’s new foster cat, Linaria, who—unlike the other three reticent cats in the household—was very affectionate and eager to share her light-colored fur with me and my black shirt.

After the feline cuddle session, I headed out again to visit another nearby park, Cantigny, where there were amazing colorful sculptures throughout created by Mexican artists. I was especially impressed by the octopus.

On the way back home in the evening, I was once again completely wowed by the light in the trees on the bike paths through the local nature preserves.

This is a special place.

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