Thursday, August 12, 2010

Naper Settlement, Complete with Heat and Mosquitoes

Last summer, we had planned to take my mother in law to Naper Settlement. It kept raining everyday we planned to go. So this year we tried again, and yup, it rained. Thankfully the rain was done by the time we got to the parking lot, but the humidity was still there, and the air was heavy. Too bad the early settlers of Naperville didn't have air conditioning.  ;)  The temperature and humidity were really bad on Sunday, and we were covered in sweat within three minutes of being outside. This summer has been really bad, at least as heat goes.

Nick loved walking the paths, although he didn't necessarily want to go the way we wanted to go. I love the expression on Grandma Toni's face in the above picture. Nick always seems to take three times as long to walk to any given destination, even though he practically runs everywhere.

Anyway, Naper Settlement was just lovely, despite the crushing humidity. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Naper Settlement is a living history place where you can learn about the early settlers in this part of Illinois. I'm a history buff, and I really enjoyed this visit. My minor in college was actually history, and social studies is always one of my favorite subjects to teach.

I think my favorite part was the tour of the Martin Mitchell mansion, and the stories of the strong women who lived there. I did feel bad for the people dressed in historical costumes in 90 plus degree heat, though.We want to go back and visit Naper Settlement again, on a less humid day, because we didn't get to see all of the buildings. They have limited hours on Sundays, and we figured a few hours would be enough. It wasn't. This place is gorgeous, and the grounds are meticulously kept. The beautiful sunflowers in the picture from yesterday's post (with Nick and Greg) are from the grounds of Naper Settlement. Check out the giant garden below. I asked Greg if I could have a garden that big, and he said sure, because it'd be less grass to mow. I was just kidding, though. It looks like a lot of work.

Actually, visiting Naper Settlement reminded me of when my mom and my sister and I used to volunteer at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago, back in the early 1990s. We dressed in those heavy petticoats and bonnets and worked in the chicken coops and the kitchen and on the grounds. Cleaning out the chicken coops was my least favorite job. My mom actually worked the old wood stove in the kitchen, and I remember leading tours in the dining room around Christmastime one year.

Volunteering was kind of fun, and got me into history. But I remember how uncomfortable those dresses were. I'm on the left in the picture above, standing with my mom. I was probably in junior high, which is why my bangs look so hideous. They were long because I usually wore them sprayed four inches into the air. When in costume, we had to wear our hair traditionally. I remember that the chickens were really mean, and I was glad when they killed them for a chicken dinner.

Nick really enjoyed walking around the grounds of this place, because there were no cars and he could roam free. The only issue we had, other than the heat, was the mosquito problem. Has anyone else noticed that there are more mosquitoes around than ever before? I can currently count at least twenty four mosquito bites on my body. The little buggers tend to prefer me, and I believe it has to do with insulin resistance (IR). My body is a feast for mosquitoes. Sigh.

I'll end with one final picture--this is Nick with his Grandma Toni at Heaven on Seven, a restaurant we go to quite often in Downtown Naperville. We went there after our trip, and had a delicious dinner while we cooled off.


  1. That looks extremely similar to our Living History Farms, which is a lot of fun. You would probably like it too. Nice nineties

  2. I used to work at Naper Settlement - I was a blacksmith, which was a very hot job in the summertime. Great photos. Interestingly, I just left a job doing school programs and events at Kline Creek Farm. Since you were there in teh 90s that would be a bit before my time. But I'm sure you must remember Pat, she just retired from there a few months ago. Great Photos and post - glad you enjoy visiting historic places.