Day 380, April 1, 2021

First Birds of Spring

Tonight's soundtrack: Annie Lennox, Unplugged, 1992

This is the week the animals came back. Tuesday morning I looked out the picture window and there were dark shapes scattered all over the lawn. It took me a moment to recognize them as birds. They moved with a slowness and deliberateness. The bushy tailed squirrels are back too, frolicking on the edge of the forest and scampering up tree trunks when Franklin sets after them. And the other night, when I took Franklin out for a walk just before bed, he bolted and ripped the leash from my hand chasing after a rabbit. Last night, I was better prepared and held him in restraint while he smelled the air deeply. I could see the shape of the rabbit sitting frozen in the middle of the lawn, but Franklin lost interest once the chase was called off.

My newly vaccinated parents
dropped off ingredients to make

I suppose I should be a little more wary about the chickens as the bears must be waking from hibernation. I remember one spring, I went to a conference in Kalispell, Montana on community colleges and the creative economy. After the last day of sessions, a couple of new found friends and I decided to explore Glacier National Park. 

I'm not exactly sure what I imagined Montana to be like, but I had clearly not prepared for an outing in the great wilds. I had my Ecco dress shoes and my red clam shell Adidas sneakers. Nevertheless, my slightly better outfitted colleagues and I were determined to set out. As we were leaving the hotel, the concierge asked if we had bear spray. 

"Bear spray?" was the universal refrain.

The grizzlies were waking up, he explained. We needed to make noise while walking, sing songs, clap your hands, that kind of thing. We chuckled to one another like the concierge might be pulling our leg. But, he did rummage around in the back of the concierge station and lent us a canister of bear spray. For some reason, I was nominated to be the bearer of bear spray, so in the back of the rental car on our way up into the mountains I read the instructions. The part I remember most vividly was the clear illustration accompanying the annotation of 20' for 20 seconds. That's how far and how long the canister would last. 

Fortunately, we did not see any grizzlies while hiking through the park. There was a taxidermy grizzly in a little dive bar where we stopped for a break on the way back to the hotel. It towered surprisingly high over our heads. I was particularly glad to not have needed the bear spray. It looked nothing like the friendly bear from the television show Grizzly Adams

It was chillier today, there were reports of a little bit of snow in some places in the valley. There was snow in the mountains that spring in Montana too. It was shocking to find myself at that elevation when my clothes suddenly seemed inadequate and the ground was coated with thin crust of white. It was beautiful. But that memory is almost displaced by the brilliance of the blue glacial lakes and waterfalls. I had never imagined that hue of blue could exist in nature. I would not have believed it if I hadn't stood there in awe. It was like those photographs of the aurora borealis. Surely those images must be artifacts of the lens and the limited capacity of film or digital sensor to truly convey the image. Someday, I hope to see the aurora borealis for myself as well.

I also think of the Sewanee fog. The sunset behind Bartlett Hall before the Honors College was there at UMass. The mountains in Guilin, China. The Buddhist monastery on Namsan Mountain in Korea. 

I have been lucky to see so many things. And even now in our pandemic stasis, I can add to that, the first spring birds on the lawn. A still rabbit at night.

Take care and be well,


From Our Friends:

From UMass Amherst:

Beemyn Edits Encyclopedia of Trans Studies  

Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center, has edited The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies with Abbie Goldberg, a professor of psychology at Clark University.

School of Public Policy Hosts Talk on Environmental Justice  

The School of Public Policy will host a conversation with environmental justice advocate and scholar Nicky Sheats on Monday, April 26, at noon. The online event is open to the UMass Amherst community.

From the Community Economies Research Network:

Hello fellow CERN members,

Finally we are online with a website for the Rural Commons Festival that I'm co-organising in the Italian Alps at the end of May/beginning of June 2021. Each festival week-end will also host an afternoon symposium and in the Vallagarina valley the focus will be on community economies and negotiating the interdependence between rural and urban practices.

We still hope that some parts of the festival will be possible with physical presence but am sure that the symposium will also take place online. For those of you interested in participating online, there is no participation fee (as the 50€ fee is only needed to cover food for participants over 3 days).

From Higher Ed Jobs:

What the 'Doctor' Title Means for Women of Color with Doctorates 
by Cecilia E. Suarez & Robyn Hannigan, from The Conversation
 Woman Using Laptop

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, conservative author Joseph Epstein chided then incoming first lady Jill Biden for using 'Dr.' before her name while she is not a physician. The article sparked widespread backlash from women in academia, particularly those of color for whom the refusal to acknowledge their Ph.D. is particularly hurtful.


Slow (Virtual) Art Day

MASS MoCA From Home
Saturday, April 10

Did you know that the average viewer spends only 10 seconds in front of a work of art? Join us virtually for this year’s International Slow Art Day on April 10 to explore new resources on MASS MoCA From Home that will help you slow down, take a beat, and enjoy art from wherever you are. 

From the It Gets Better Project:

Resources for AAPI LGBTQ+ Communities

Resources and Stories for AAPI LGBTQ+ Communities

To our Asian American & Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ family: we're here for you. Explore resources serving AAPI queer communities and view stories uplifting queer AAPI voices. 



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