By: Janet Jaramilla and Mary Kay Kammer
Janet and I have been friends since our long-ago grade school days in the western suburbs. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting into when we signed up to be docents at the Lily Pool in spring 2015—neither of us had taken a tour before the training, but we were impressed with the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of our six Saturdays at the head house. Julia Bachrach’s presentation about the history of Lincoln Park was especially impressive, and we appreciated learning about the flora and fauna of the Lily Pool (we’re still very much learners about the flowers—who knew they’d keep changing week to week 😁). We were lucky to have Norm Radl as our mentor, and we donned our green aprons ready to meet the public.
Now we spend as many hours as we can fit in at the Lily Pool during the months it’s open. We’ve met lots of eager visitors—a surprising number of Lincoln Park neighbors stopping in for the first time, and an equal number of regular visitors, Lily Pool fans who add to our knowledge about the flowers and especially the birds. We’ve mourned the loss of the staghorn sumac at the entrance—a good opportunity to talk about Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite color, but there are a few other sumacs scattered throughout, and certainly plenty of other trees to talk about. And we’ve met (and taken pictures of) many out-of-town visitors, who marvel at the fact that such an impressive location is totally free—with free tours thrown in.
But we all know that behind the scenes, the Lincoln Park Conservancy—its staff and donors, in partnership with the Chicago Park District—is devoted to the historic conservation and ecological restoration of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool as well as the rest of Lincoln Park, Chicago’s most highly used park. The Conservancy surely deserves our support, so please consider a financial donation as well as a contribution of your time. We’d love to have you join us as docents.