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A damp stroll across Chicago’s front lawn

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Courtesy of Craig Summers Black

(Read caption) Cleome springs from the hedges in front of Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, between downtown Chicago's Lake Michigan waterfront and famous Michigan Avenue.

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So there we were, just the two of us, sauntering through the flowers in an early-morning semi-soaking rain off the lake in Chicago.

Devil-may-care romance? No, just another overzealous gardener bound and determined to take in a landscaping landmark before the weekend vacation came to a thudding halt.

Then again, in a former life I covered Portland and Seattle gardens for a large national magazine. So I’ve been wet before.

Our idea that Sunday morning was to take in Millennium Park before the six-hour drive home back to Madison County, Iowa

It was worth the dowsing.

How Chicago got its nickname

But first, before discussing that, a historical sidelight: The Windy City did not get its famous nickname because of the breeze.

You see, Chicago is no windier than most places, certainly less so than where I live. It was first called the Windy City because of the bloviage of city politicians. And Chicago is, first and foremost, a political city. I don’t think Rahm Emanuel was so much elected mayor as he was appointed.

Politics, politics

And Millennium Park, now the city’s No. 2 tourist destination (after the garish Navy Pier), is pretty much the result of city politics. What was supposed to be a $150 million project to turn railroad yards and parking lots into green space became a much-delayed $475 million project. Private donors did end up contributing more than $200 million, but still …

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