Forget Nessie: exclusive photo of Chicago's very own North Pond monster

I’ve been watching it now for the past few weeks but never had my camera to hand. Yesterday I was lucky. The frigid weather had forced Northie to come even further out of the water than usual. It was almost as if it were staring straight into the lens. I shivered. But then it was hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Northie isn’t shy. He (for I have taken the initiative and proclaimed Northie to be a male of the species, mainly because it means there might still be some romantic hope for the Loch Ness monster which I definitely see as a ‘she’) seems to be happy to survey his watery domaine for the entire day. He refuses to move however from his spot. I like to think he is protecting the geese from less kindly predators. We have yet to see a coyote around North Pond this winter but then again, until the past week, you could say we had yet to see winter.

I have my own theory as to why Northie has surfaced this year. For decades I believe he’s been leading a quiet, undisturbed life in the waters by the Theater on the Lake next to Fullerton Avenue beach. He remembers when the Theater was actually a hospital for babies with tuberculosis and other diseases. He would poke his head up when the nurses weren’t looking, and make the babies smile.

He also remembers the time before the Theater when the stretch of beach between Fullerton and Diversey was the very first public beach in Chicago. He was the one who smiled then – at the bathing costumes. Things have changed a lot since 1895.

Including the Fullerton Ave beach over the past few months. Gone is his little pied-à-mer, filled in and replaced by almost 6 acres of grassy lawns with fledgling trees and unsurpassed skyline views. It was time to move on. Besides, it won’t be so much fun now there’ll be no more cyclists clashing with runners ranting at walkers wailing at rollerbladers rolling their eyes.

So he snuck into North Pond. And before you ask how, I imagine there’s a secret underwater tunnel connecting the pond to the lake. Or perhaps the very nice men and women who have worked so hard at Fullerton Ave beach secretly transported him in the dead of night to his new home just like ‘Free Willy’. There’s probably a film in there somewhere. Perhaps Spike Lee would be interested after the success of ‘Chi-Raq’.

I have another theory as to why Northie’s nose is permanently pointed in the same direction. He’s downwind of the new Firecakes Donuts shop that’s just opened a couple of blocks away on Clark. You could draw a direct line between his left nostril and the exact position of the store. Perhaps he’s just waiting patiently for someone to throw him a Maple Bacon Long John (maple cream filled with peppered, candied bacon); I know the dog does.

But enough. Yes, I know the North Pond monster is really a bright blue recycling garbage bin, but can’t a girl’s imagination wonder when she’s walking the dog? It’s been there marooned, abandoned, isolated for weeks now, on as opposed to in the pond. Which in itself is pretty impressive given the milder weather we had a few weeks ago. So that got me thinking again. How come it’s staying afloat?

Is it in fact going to be a permanent fixture? A message to us all on the shorelines not to leave our trash on the shorelines? Or is it the latest attempt by park district officials to train the geese to poop in an improvised water closet? Or is it…..

If this flight of fantasy made you smile, I also sometimes write stuff that has a few more facts in it. You can enter your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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