Two years ago today we went to a large pet adoption event in the parking lot at the Detroit zoo and adopted Marci. We walked around the whole place checking out all of the shelter dogs, and she was among the last who caught our attention, at the end of our first circle around, sitting quietly in her cage. After meeting a few other dogs, we got her story, got her out of the cage, and then adopted her and brought her home. And now it’s like she’s never not been here.
Right now she’s laying on the chair by the open front window of my office. I don’t know why she only discovered this chair a few days ago, but lately she regularly settles in there while I’m at the computer. She’s grown used to us being home and around all day long, or taking her in the car on short and long trips, and tends to stay close and pay attention whenever I’m moving around the house or somehow slip outside without her. If we’re going to spend any considerable time away, I think, we’re going to have to work up to it so she doesn’t have a serious panic attack and totally freak out.
Also today the grad students are on strike. It's now into the second week. Some Ann Arbor lecturers and TT faculty are striking with them too and even some from Dearborn and Flint. Many RAs have also walked out of the dorms, demanding more testing and safer conditions. And now dining workers and other groups on campus are joining in and ramping up the pressure. It’s true, we’re in a global pandemic that no one has ever had to navigate before. And so maybe leaders don’t entirely know the best ways to proceed. But the U. is the wealthiest public U. and has top-world experts in every field. There have been many conversations and information from all kinds of public health and other experts. There is no reason for the U. to be doing as poor a job as it is doing in terms of subjecting students, faculty, staff, and the community to the spread of this virus. And it hardly included any of them in reopening plans and conversations. The administration, in fact, tried to hide a report from its own committee that warned that it was dangerous to reopen to the extent planned, and that it was unethical to do so and put people in danger. Add to all that the racial justice demands and problematic history of policing on campus. Grad students are demanding police reform in funding and practice. And if all of this ever ends, those graduating grad students will enter a world radically changed and with likely fewer job opportunities, students in the dorms will go out into the local community and go back to their families and many will bring the virus, since their age group is known to silently spread if not actually contract the virus, and the world will not return exactly to how it was.
The clouds have filled in the sky like a haze. It was beautiful and clear sun earlier in the day. These good-weather September days are hard to come by and won’t last long. A bit of evening sun though glows through onto the neighbor’s bright orange and pink wildflowers which seem nostalgic for a summer they’ve barely known. The neighbor told me they pulled out old, mostly weeds, from those only somewhat contained beds in the front yard, and then threw in some wildflower mix bags of seeds. Our own fall flowers have also filled in in the front yard, but I can’t see them from here outside and under my front window. After to much dryness, the daisies are blooming again. A huge spread of deep red mums is just starting to turn into flowers from the buds. And large sedums dominate the front beds and mix with assertively spread black-eyed Susans along the driveway. Lots of other continuing summer and early fall colors, including goldenrods and other spindly spreaders have popped out all over the neighborhood.
Flowers are like taking a break. Sometimes I try to focus on them hard. To see a yard full all at once. Take in the patches and layers. The way textures and shapes fill in the outside spaces. Earlier in the summer, walking with my aunt, she told me her neighborhood didn’t have a lot of peonies, maybe because they grow a bit large and wild, that in that Ann Arbor neighborhood the yards are more neat more tidy. Our Ypsi yards, some of them, are kind of wild. Less delineation between species and types. More openness to falling out of boundaries or expectations. I think Ann Arbor used to be more like this, maybe parts of it still are. Maybe yard art can be a creative lesson, in paying attention, in cultivating beauty.