Empress impressions

Two years ago, a dozen baby Paulownia tomentosas - also known as empress or princess trees - were planted in Logan Square around the fountain, replacing ones that were much loved but, in several cases, diseased. The decision was made to take them all out, rather than suffer through the asymmetry that would result if there were some 70 years old and 70 feet tall and the rest young pipsqueaks barely out of burlap.

Passing through the square today, skies threatening rain, I visited with the toddler trees. They looked about 20 feet tall, but don't quote me. They're growing, to be sure, and are looking more at home by the month. If you're a tree in the city, this must be a swell assignment. The grass is nicely tended, not too much trash. You could actually feel spray from the fountain on this slightly windy day, and all around are people who appreciate this space.

Someone dressed in office clothes - with a knotted tie, no less - was sprawled on the grass, arms and legs akimbo. Kids were running around. Adults were reading or sitting. I was just passing through. But how wonderful to have an oasis like this in the middle of all the buildings and cars - and bad news.

Empresses in training: Keep up the good work!