Bachelor's Grove 15by Barek HalfhandThe Blizzard Of 2011 crippled Chicago-land with over 20 inches of snow the beginning of February, leaving many stranded on Lake Shore Drive for an upwards of 8 hours or more after a stalled bus choked off the already crawling traffic flow...the lake effect wind driven snow blowing vertically from the east quickly buried and immobilized vehicles frozen in gridlock necessitating a consortium of fire, police, municipal, state, county and even the National Guard rescue crews to assist in extracting motorists, some via snowmobile ...the frigid subzero temperatures that followed further hindered the vehicle excavation efforts and complicated snow removal processes, plus to add insult to injury; more spotted snow squalls continued to pummel the already paralyzed city with additional accumulation over the following week ...a cacophonous mix of assorted snow blowers, plows and scraping shovels became the norm for weeks and continued cold temperatures have remained constant rendering northern Illinois a bleak, frozen tundra leading one to wonder if the recent Geo-magnetic polar shifts are really causing the sudden surge in meteorological extremes we are seeing globally …. A sudden break in the subzero weather during the day followed by overnight plummeting temperatures has created some stalagmite sized and rather dangerous looking icicles threatening to separate gutters from roofs... the streets are clear and layered clothing is optional so I decided to try and get some shots of Bachelor's Grove while the pristine snow still blankets the forest floor of the south burbs... Bachelor's Grove is probably the most famous of Midwest haunted locations that has had endless reports of paranormal activity some of which; like St James and Mount Camel have even been reported by patrolling police officers...in the case of bachelor’s Grove the experience was shared by 2 partnered deputies that spotted the spectral plow horses and attendant farmer emerge from the algae green surface of the pond and cross 143rd St. in front of their passing cruiser …The “Madonna” or “Lady of Bachelor's Grove” is a famous photo and often romanticized legend that I personally feel is the collective embodiment of several precocious entities that drift in and out of the astral planes for any one of a multitude of reasons... the elevated levels of supernatural activity there could be attributed to the non stop attempts at mediumistic communication, occult practices, vandalism, ritualistic desecration, fear, suspected mob related violence and or body disposal and a myriad of other factors ... perhaps a yet to be discovered concentration or triangulation of geophysical features in conjunction with the surrounding waterways, nearby electrical grid and more recent additional array of cell antennas mounted atop the two towers that mark the old cemeteries entrance are contributing factors?... maybe it is a combination of all of these postulated contributory factors along with the added components of weather, lunar phases, seasonal equinoxes ozone levels, road construction, even Midway related air traffic that invokes the inordinately high amount of reported sitings associated with the small square patch of chain linked land at the northwest edge of a relatively large expanse of forest preserve acreage... The legend of the old farm homestead that some have claimed passing along the path leading in has yet to manifested on any of my past excursions, but I still hold out hope for a glimpse of the vanishing house that has routinely left many dumbstruck by it's absence upon departure of the cemetery...Resurfacing of the Midlothian Turnpike resulted in permanent closure of the asphalt paved passage to the Bachelor's Grove as a dedicated thoroughfare, but it did manage to leave a concealed access to the forest tunneled road and an irresistible lover's Lane hideaway for several years until the overgrowth, unattended potholes, the installment of obstructive posts and restrictive chains limited access to pedestrian or bicycle traffic … From the very first visit I was oddly aware of the ritualistic desecration that has and still takes place in the cemetery and adjacent woods...occult symbols continue to be spray painted on stone markers or carved on trees along with and discovery of sacrificial animal remains have been confirmed by the County Sheriff Police Office...a sordid history of grave robbing and disturbing has also taken place there as evidenced by the disinterred caskets and rifled human remains discovered in the nearby woods as also reported by county officials...the very tangible residual traces of disgrace remain and are apparently detectable to even those with limited psychic acuity...a festering pestilence lingers there that permeates far beyond the rusted links of the fence line, dark waters of the stagnant pond and brooding creek to the west and reaches far out into the secretive old woods...the aura is multicolored and tinted at the lower ends of the visible spectrum with shades of rancor and putrefaction propagated by decades of defilement and deplorable acts of symbolic moral abandonment, vandalism, drug fueled blood letting ceremonies and perhaps even premeditated corpse bothering enabled by the shroud of night, thick woods and cessation of police patrols during the late 60's, early 70's ...A relativity light schedule and break in the month long debilitating cold fell on an overcast, gloomy mid February Monday morning …the forecast of even higher temperatures, an extended period of unseasonably mild weathers and the inevitable thaw that would ultimately ensue threatened the winter shrouded, post-Blizzard 2011 Bachelor's Grove shots I desired...so with thermos in tow and dressed in my trademark inadequate-for-inclement-weather-clothing, I made my way through the sedate southern suburbs intentionally skirting the vast expanse of woods along the way to prepare my mind set for this 15th trip in 4 years...I scanned the FM band for an appropriate soundtrack to accompany trip ...“hey Joe,.where you going with gun in your hand?...“I'm going to to shoot my old lady...you know I caught her messin' round with another man”...“hey Joe, I heard you shot your old lady down”...“yes I did I shot her, shot her down to the ground-caught her messin' round town”...“hey Joe, where you gonna run to now?'... Rubio Woods is seemingly always open and thankfully plowed but the 3-4 foot drifts and piled snow on both sides of the road and lot entrance made crossing 143rd Street and even more daunting task than usual...The chain at the path entrance still droops lazily between the 2 brightly painted yellow posts displaying perhaps world's most ignored “closed” sign hanging at lowest end of the loop, but now there is the new addition of an even more confounding contradiction by way of a “Closed At Sunset “sign mounted next to it on the right side post …the path looks to have hosted a good compliment of visitors the first half of February judging from the deep, re-frozen rut beaten into the path by innumerable winter booted nature hikers, ghost hunters and curiosity seekers alike...The bad spot along the path has managed to retain it's dour disposition and it has not diminished since my last passing …actually it even seemed to be a little more stand-offish as opposed to pleading on this particular morning but by slightly accelerating my pace and diverting my attention elsewhere, she melted away like a water splashed witch into the background ...the Stygian depths of the winter plighted woods to the south almost moaned with contempt as I plodded my way to the clearing up ahead where the toppled stones of Bachelor’s Grove slowly came into focus …The site must have been slated for a cleanup effort within the immediate past few days because save for a beer bottle, the place was almost litter free and the garbage can place strategically at the cemetery entrance was empty instead of it's usual over flowing state …Oddly many that claim to be adept at photo reading seem to perceive a common and recurrent theme here: nudity and debauched behavior...one woman appears to be bound by her compulsive sex addiction and another appears to be caught in some looping act of deviant perversion but they are always alone and this imprint is perhaps a discarded aspect a worldly essence long since abandoned since ascension...some deem this as indicative of a succubus pack while others like to attribute hermetic esoterica to these prurient apparitions ...I always search for a possible source of implanted suggestion or a common thread to connect the many diverse and unrelated sources that share impressions of such implexive uniformity but generally find myself to be further perplexed by that which is so collaborative of my own intuitive experience...The broken and toppled monuments are said to move independent of human design but as shards of newly shattered pieces of granite and marble lay strewn about the bases of some of the remaining perpendicular stones, the fresh defacement of the surfaces by way of marker scrawled graffiti and the inverted crosses smeared by an unidentifiable dark substance, the unelectable reality of a continuing campaign of mockery becomes clearly evident and movement of the stones likely to be by the hands of indiscriminate vandals.... The Fulton family stone that overlooks the Infant Daughter's Grave is always host to new scribblings and black marker tagging ... a crunching of compacting snow with a rhythm like footfalls temporarily averted my attention from the megalithic block of rock that sits at the cemeteries highest vantage point overlooking the pond...the phantom footsteps stopped abruptly as I rounded to the Infant Daughters marker that was only adorned with a couple of token trinkets, one of which was a macabre looking pose that included a small Winnie The Pooh with rather large looking femoral bone placed across his lap (pictured below) …. The trees within the perimeter of the cemetery are mature, tall, twisted, old knotted oaks and dark elms that contrast sharply against the winter pallor in their gaunt, leaf bare, death mimicking state of hibernation...there is often a negatively radiant and oppressive sense of something lurking in the treetops and watching from overhead... a quick enough glance upward may permit a glimpse of the dark figure perched against the cold gray sky but I elected to forgo the vertigo and and equilibrium disruption this often entails … A gentle slope that leads to a single square section of missing northern fence descending to the pond a few feet below like a ramp and it oddly resembles a boat launch...the frosted frozen surface cracked below my boots as I apprehensively traversed the ice for reasons still unclear to myself …standing pensively in the center of the pond, I found it hard to fathom this location ever doubling as a park/ picnic grove during the first quarter of the century... mornings here would play host to countless fishermen wearing wading boots, vests and hats festooned with lures, hooks and bobbers better suited for a Great Lakes trout rundown ...couples dressed in their dapper Sunday attire, sitting on blankets amid the tombstones of their relatives and strangers alike and probably shaded by some of the the same trees that still stand stoically there today while the kids frolicked and family dogs barked nearby...The creek to the west has open spots of running water defiant of the extreme cold we endured over the last few weeks that managed to solidify even the larger Illinois tributaries...the bubbling sparkle of this thawed portion of brook possessed an almost hypnotic quality against the featureless, white surroundings as I gazed down from gully wall where I stood, the rushing flow clearly audible below ...I somehow managed to maintain an upright stance as I slid my way down to the creek-bed and while standing tentatively near the open water ...a flicker in my peripheral vision caused an upward glance away from the camera LED and I had to roll my eyes at the site of a woman standing upstream, dressed in a frilly, corset-like swimsuit of a bygone era with a daringly visible knee and upper thigh leg-line, flowered bathing cap and a Bella Umbrella...I ignored her and continued experimenting with camera angles and the flowing stream and thus terminating her extemporaneous apparition...I am starting to wonder if I have a demonic attachment that likes to mimic horrible paranormal cliche's? … My reward for tempting the ice integrity was (of course) breaking through and soaking my boots for a slushy walk back to the car ...backtracking my return eastward though another of the rapidly multiplying open sections of fence, I paused to reflect on he uniqueness of this site's ability to harbor such residual negativity while at the same time providing a juxtaposed island of sedate tranquility on the edge of urban chaos …Wet boots were the deciding factor for taking the express route home which passed both Burr Oak and Holy Sepulchre ...Burr Oak is still an abhorrent open wound for many and just now as I am writing this, local news has just reported on another cemetery in nearby south suburban Homewood Illinois accused of mismanagement and multiple violations that border criminal neglect and much to my horror; the indictments involve the treatment of stillborn infants …what next?...hey Joe, where you gonna run to now?...
HD video from my 15th trip to Bachelor's Grove on the heals of Blizzard 2011 .
Here are the (compressed to 1MB) photos...some have been slightly sharpened or color enhanced (02-2011) 67 total....b