Sara Paretsky’s Blog

It’s New Year’s
December 31, 2008, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

And a bright sunny day in Chicago.  Cold, but nothing like the -2 F we had a week ago, so we’re happy.  About half a mile from my home, in between us and Lake Michigan, is a small wilderness called “Wooded Isle.”  It’s a bird sanctuary, and it holds a Japanese Garden, a gift of the city of Osaka.  And despite vandals and poor budgets, it continues to look lovely at all seasons.

This is what I look at in winter.


I go there as many mornings as I can with my dog and try to ground myself, try to let go of all the thoughts and anxieties that weigh me down (we are worrying about the health of one son, and have everyone’s usual worries about the world.)

Even though I hear the traffic on both sides of us, and even though the dog rolls in or eats obnoxious stuff, the Osaka Garden has become part of my peace-seeking ritual.

This little map shows you where the garden is, just south of the Museum of Science and Industry.  Lake Michigan lies to the east; the blue around the garden is really brown, the lagoons from the lake that dot the south side’s lakefront.  I see herons there, prairie hawks, and small woodland birds.



 I  hope against all odds that the world itself finds more peace this year than it’s known for a while, that the United States stops its part in creating havoc and death for people far from home, that we all seek justice, in Lincoln’s words, “with a firmness in the right as Gd gives us to see the right.”  May the year be one of health and peace for everyone who reads these words.


10 Comments so far
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Happy New Year, Sara.

Comment by ab

Happy New Year. I hope things work out well with your son’s health and that this is something that can be quickly (and painlessly) fixed.

Comment by Kelly

Wishing you, Sara, and everyone who reads your blog a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year. If everyone wished it all at once – who knows?

Comment by corkhead

Many thanks for your good wishes and also for allowing us to have a glimpse of your environment. The Japanese garden seems enchanting. I was very sorry to read that you worry about a son’s health. I do hope his condition is not too serious and that he gets well soon. Please let us know.
I had to translate -2F into centigrade before I realised how cold it gets in your part of the world. My best wishes to you and to this lovely little community of readers extend to wishing you an early Spring !

Comment by Pascale

Sara, thanks for your good wishes for 2009. Sorry to hear about your sons. Good thoughts go your way.

I am hopeful that with the change in DC, we can begin to repair the damage that has been done and move us back on the correct course.

Thanks for the map. We’ll be back in IL this spring to visit family. We usually take time to visit O’Gara & Wilson and Powells Bookshops on 57th St. We’ll have to make a side trip to the park. Since I was a child, the Museum of Science and Industry has always been one of my favorite places to visit. Berghoff’s was also a “must stop” when we were downtown. I will definitely miss not seeing “Marshall Fieds” downtown. I’m surrounded by Macys’ here in NJ and it’s just not the same.

Happy New Year. May we all find inner peace and happiness this year.

Comment by genny

I love Chicago and it’s been far too long since my last visit. A trip to the Japanese Garden will definitely be on the itinerary.

I wish peace, good health and happiness in 2009 to you and your family.

My thoughts are with you while you walk through the “Wooded Isle”. Positive thoughts.

Comment by CherylK

Hi Sara, and a Happy New Year from a chilly (but not so much as Chicago) winter in Yorkshire, England. Hadn’t read your blog before but loved the maps of the area mentioned in Fire Sale lower down the page – was trying to place it when we visited in the summer – excuse for another trip over sometime!! Hope your son is OK. All the best for the coming year.

Comment by Gill

Sara, I’m not sure where to pose this question so I stuck it here. Just wondering if you’ll be in D.C on Jan 20th for Barack’s historic inauguration.

Comment by genny

This post has been shared on The Windy Citizen at

Drop by to see how Chicagoan’s are rating it!

Comment by Brad Flora

Hi Sara,

I’ve only visited Osaka Gardens in the summer so thanks for sharing the post about it on one of our Chicago Wintery Days!

Osaka Gardens was first built for the Columbia Exposition and then vandals destroyed it during WWII. In 1995 it was rebuilt, thanks to a contribution from the City of Osaka as part of Chicago’s Sister Cities Program.

Architectural Woodworker John Okumura and his firm built the magnificent cedar gate that welcomes visitors to the garden. I’m not sure his name ever appeared on the list of credits at the gate because his firm, Custom Cabinets Corporation, was considered a subcontractor.

They were chosen because of their expertise in traditional Japanese Wood Joinery. There are two pages about the Osaka Gardens Gate and project on a memorial website done to honor his work at:

Comment by Tamale Chica

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