Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Neighborhood Mystery, Solved

A few days ago something purple appeared high up in the trees overhanging Birchwood Street.

At first, it was easy enough to dismiss as a shopping bag that had been lifted by the breeze and been tangled in the branches. But today, on closer inspection, it revealed itself to be something more.

It appears to be made out of corrugated plastic. I'm not sure if it's a purple box, or a some sort of lampshade, or something much more odd and strange.

Whatever it is, you can see that it didn't get there by any kind of accident. It's been attached to the branch with a twisted length of wire, by someone who obviously went to great trouble to do so. It has to be at least 20 feet above the ground.

Stand beneath it and you can see some kind of metal frame inside, and a few pieces of paper that have writing on them.

The whole thing is a bit bizarre, to say the least. I'd love to know who put it up there and why. But I can't exactly go door to door and ask. The purple thing in the trees is weird, but doing that would be interpreted as downright crazy.

So instead, I'll have to make up my own explanation. It goes like this: The purple thing is a talisman of some kind, installed late at night by a practicing witch living in one of the buildings close by. She -- or he, no point in being sexist, after all -- put it up there to trap a malevolent spirit that has been creating trouble for some time now. The spirit is now caught inside, swirling around, growing more and more enraged with each passing night. Soon, the spirit will break loose, and wreak havoc on us all as revenge.

Or maybe I'll just call the alderman and ask to have it removed.


UPDATE -- I wrote the following email to the alderman's office:


I'm a resident of the 49th ward, living at XXXX N.
Sheridan, Unit D.

The other day I found a strange object attached to
one of the branches of a tree overhanging
Birchwood Avenue, at approximately XXXX W.
Birchwood. A photo is attached.

The object is purple and appears to be an open-
ended box of some sort made of corrugated plastic.
It has a metal frame inside, and several pieces of
paper or cardstock with writing on them hanging
from that. It's been purposefully attached to the
tree branch with a length of twisted wire.

I'm curious whether the object was put there by
the city or a utility, and if so, what its purpose
might be.

I'd really appreciate a response with some kind of
answer if at all possible. Frankly, the mystery of
it really has me wondering. I have some additional
photos if you'd like them, but this is the best.

Thanks for any information or help you can provide.
This evening, they replied:
These are traps for the emerald ash borer, which
is preying on ash trees in certain Midwest and
Atlantic Seaboard states. I beleive it is to test
whether or not there is a problem in our area.
There was a sighting of them in West Rogers Park.
So. I was right about the purple things being a trap of some kind, but for evil bugs, not evil spirits. Too bad.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but a lot of times it isn't.

Previously on "C Michael Cook"

Back in March I made what was to be my last blog post for two and a half months. If someone had told me this at the time -- if they had gently taken me aside and whispered that things were going to change pretty radically for the foreseeable future -- I might have written something a bit more eloquent than bitching about how greedy AIG is and the screwed up state of America.

Casual readers may have wondered if I was assassinated by a shadowy cabal of angry corporate and political interests, so sudden and unexplained was my departure. This is not the case.

The truth is much more boring. Simply put, time flies when your life is being chewed up and swallowed by a new job. First they lure you in with promises of a steady paycheck and health insurance, then they tear you away from everything you hold dear.

Fortunately, the workaday world seems to have calmed down -- so much so that I've gone from feeling like I'm going to quit to fearing that I'm going to be laid off. It seems that the happy middle is only a point I pass on my way to one of the extremes at either end.

So. I'm back. And the picture above came from the middle of the second page of results when I searched for "two and a half months" on Google Images. How've you been?