Cooper Hawk Family Grove -- Winter Trails; Bat Roost and Deer; Old Man and his beer; Ghost Bicycle; Lone Graves

Cooper Hawk Family Grove -- Winter Trails; Bat Roost and Deer; Old Man and his beer; Ghost Bicycle; Lone Graves
Cooper Hawk Grove

Yesterday was as good a day as any for taking a walk in the snow at Cooper Hawk Family Grove.

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It’s never very crowded there, even in nicer weather, perhaps because there are no porta-potties or grills or water pumps.  Yesterday was no exception, a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a Chicago-area winter.

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But the sun was shining, a bonus.  So I had to go.

At one time, like most of the Cook County Forest Preserves, Cooper Hawk Family Grove was farmland.  I have found foundation remnants of at least one house, and in the spring one year, when the former fields heave up in the warmer weather, I found an old medicine bottle.

There is the usual wildlife that calls the grove home: rabbits, raccoon, coyote, and deer.  I saw two deer on my hike. As I tried to take their picture, one stared me down before bounding off, its white tail bobbing in the bare trees.

Ghost Bicycle

Ghost Bicycle

A little further along I came to the ghost bicycle.  The rider was hit by a car and died.

It turns out that he was not the first person to die in the area.

A little further up the trail are a grouping of lone graves, European settlers who made the area of 135th and Harlem (now Palos Heights) their home.  The family plot was established close-by.  Before that, there are probably the graves of Native Americans, who frequented the area.

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On my return leg of the hike, there was an older man in a pork-pie hat with a big nose standing at a small bridge over a creek, a plastic grocery bag at his feet.  He was sipping on a tan can of Schlitz.   He nodded and said that the weather was warm enough for the beer after I said that what he was doing looked like a good idea.

Back past the Bat Roost and that was my hike in Cooper Hawk Family Grove, short but loaded with ghosts and one old man and a beer.

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