Imrem: Quiet escape to Arlington to refresh the soul

  • Arlington Park can be a great place to visit, especially at its quietest moments.

      Arlington Park can be a great place to visit, especially at its quietest moments. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Posted8/12/2015 5:30 AM

The Arlington Million storm is still a few days away.

On Saturday, as many as 14 athletic animals will come thundering down the stretch in pursuit of a huge payday.


For me, Tuesday morning was the calm before the storm.

Everybody, even a sports writer, needs to escape the escape that sports are supposed to be.

This has been a crazily busy year with the Bears' firings and hirings in winter, the Blackhawks' championship run in spring and the Cubs' emergence in summer.

Now the Bears are in training camp with breathless reports that a rookie wide receiver is actually up and running, of all things.

Heck, I was at Wrigley Field the other day when a bomb threat made the "Friendly Confines" feel awfully unfriendly.

Please, planet, stop spinning and let me get off for a moment!

A couple of months ago I started going to Arlington Park to get away from the madness.

Not in the afternoon for races on days when the horses were running. Not early in the morning to watch them exercise.

Instead, I strolled in midmorning to experience the glory of nothing. Yes, this is, as "Seinfeld" would call it, a show about nothing.

OK, so there's no nothing going on anywhere anymore. A siren blares in the distance. A voice can be heard from under the "Terrace Cafe" awning. A young boy runs past like this were his personal playground.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

Generally, though, we're whispering at you about a relative slice of silence that there aren't many of in the world.

Doesn't it seem that even when nothing is going on that there's still so much going on? So much noise? So much traffic? So much action, Jackson?

At the track, after the horses are back in the barn, shortly after 10 a.m., it's remarkably quiet.

You can even hear yourself think, whether you want to or not. You can see things that normally would slip past you.

I'm all alone planted at a table in a "Finish Line … Reserved" section, enjoying that clocks and calendars are waiting for me to catch up to them.

The sky is a pleasant mix of bright blue and soiled white. The sun is beating down and the temperature heating up.

The tote board directly across the racing surfaces is dark. Sprinklers are watering the turf course where in four days a million-dollar bill will sprout. A man wearing a straw hat on a maintenance truck is collecting stray scraps.


Man, is this ever a beautiful sports facility or what?

Two things we don't have enough of is quiet and grass, and both are in abundance right here and right now.

Flags representing nearly a dozen nations are waving in the gentle breeze. They aren't flapping at each other or hacking into each other.

As often as I have been to Arlington Park, rarely have I noticed the trees blocking the view of bustling traffic on Euclid Avenue.

Thank goodness for them because across the street is the Cook County circuit court: defense attorneys, prosecutors, human trials and tribulations … everything we need to get away from once in awhile.

This Tuesday morning at the racetrack was another of my once in awhiles.

I brought a newspaper to spread out on a table but never opened it. Who wants to interrupt serenity with front-page worries of the world?

Time has flown, I'm refreshed and ready.

Now it's back to your regularly scheduled sports programming featuring the Cubs, the Bears and this weekend's Arlington Million and International Festival of Racing.

Bring on the thunder.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.