Late afternoon yesterday I took a stroll around the development where I live. The park across the street from my house showed dandelions everywhere. We tolerate the weeds where the children play, but not on our own lawns that must be more pristine and well kept up. The air was crisp with the temperature in the high 60s, low humidity and clear views, the sunset still an hour away and a sense of transient perfection punctuating the calendar before return to the hot and muggy summer. The 10-day forecast predicts we’ll have this temperate climate for a while. This is Finals Week here, then Graduation, followed by Summer School. Perhaps the seasons are permuting and we’ll be spared the air conditioning bills till June or later. Spring is our season to start again, even as the conversation coming out of our national politics wants to dampen down our hope.
As I walked along the path near Interstate 57, I saw a rabbit. A while later I saw a couple more, outside the backyards while walking up Duncan Road. There are no squirrels here, perhaps because the trees are still so young and the development still has a feel of space reclaimed from agriculture; I suppose that’s the reason the squirrels haven’t yet made it west from the older neighborhoods in town. The dogs are mostly on a leash or running around inside back yards with fences. With nary a predator in sight, the rabbits are the animal equivalent of the dandelions, spending their time on what they do best.
There are corn fields immediately to the south. The farmers have been getting ready to plant. I saw some tractors in town last week, slowing down traffic. In that setting they seem to be the encroachers because they alter the usual flow. Yesterday I don’t see any farmers but I do see many people puttering in their yards. They have the urge to grow something outside and shape its appearance as it grows. I am jealous of that feeling because I don’t share it.
Though I used to traipse around Buttermilk Falls Park when I was an undergrad and sit on the rocks and stare at Lake Michigan as a grad student, my idyllic spot has always been inside, a coffee house or living room, with reading or conversation or simply staring into space both means and end.
Now it’s technology that pronounces the artificial nature of my existence. Earlier in the afternoon I read out in the back yard with the Kindle, the Sunday Times download and non-reflective screen making it the perfect companion. During my walk I imitate my 15 year old son, wandering around with the ubiquitous iPod, my internal rhythms competing with old Allman Brothers music for my attention.
I have the unmistakable feeling that things are out of wack, the uncontrolled growth of Asteraceae and Leporidae a metaphor for societal ills. Yet there is also much beauty in the varied colors of the leaves and a sense of possibility in seeing how far we’ve come out of the harsh winter. What path should we take to greater harmony?