Definition of SANCTUARY
: a consecrated place
a (1) : a place of refuge and protection
When I lived in Salamanca, my sanctuary was the lovely huerto de Calixto y Melibea, nestled in the old walls of the city behind the Old Cathedral.
Here in Chicago, I seek my refuge and protection in the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary on Lake Michigan. On the far side of that tree you see above, facing Chicago's skyline, to be exact.
Montrose Point, a mile dead east of my home, is a magical place. The bird sanctuary was born when the Army left in the late 60s and wise feathered wanderers moved into the hedges and brush that are all that remain of what was once a missile base.
Fellow Chicagoan The Orniphile does a fine job of describing our shared sanctuary, if you're hankering for a virtual tour. I spent a few hours leaning against the tree above yesterday, settled in a chair-like collection of stumps left where rangers have trimmed her over the years. It's a a chair-like collection that seems custom fit to my fifty year old body. I tend to linger with that tree.
Later I wandered the Point's meadows, newly mowed down to spring stubble, and walked through her woods. The sanctuary is home to a lovely restored dune area, as well, though I didn't visit it yesterday, to avoid the flocks of birders and cameras enjoying a Sunday afternoon outing.
I stayed in the sanctuary's magical interior, instead, and feasted on the soundtrack. Two months ago, Montrose Point was eerily quiet. Yesterday, it was a symphony of birdsong, with well-hidden soloists singing out in every direction, no matter where I walked.
Chicago's ubiquitous cotton-tailed rabbits were out during my visit, as was a pair of yellowbellied sapsuckers -- in the tree right behind mine, in fact --and an adventurous white eyed vireo, green as the new grass around him.
Chicago can be a city of surprises and well-kept secrets. Montrose Point is one of those secrets, and it's a gem.