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The following is a list of wildlife I’ve seen so far in the past couple weeks – some of the numbers are approximate.  So far, no deadly and/or greatly inconveniencing encounters, just observations.  More to come I’m sure, and hopefully nothing involving Lyme disease (which is apparently a problem in Cayuga Heights).

Wildlife in the Ithaca area:

  • Deer (4 – mother, 2 babies, unknown tagged deer)
  • Snake (2 – both in streams, one very small and shy)
  • Small fish with stripes (~few dozen)
  • Smaller algae-eating fish with no stripes (~few dozen)
  • Crayfish on stream bottom (10)
  • Some small sucker-looking fish like a plecostemus (1, on a rock)
  • Squirrels (~thousands)
  • Chipmunk (1, briefly, unverified sighting)
  • Slugs (~thousands, all of them gross)
  • Skunk (2)
  • Cardinal (1 pair)
  • Sparrows (~thousands)
  • Frat boys playing beer pong (~6)
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I technically live in a suburb of Ithaca, just north of Cornell’s campus.  On my walk home last night, I met one of the new neighbors:

New neighbor

A female deer and her two fawns apparently live on or near the church land across the street.  I was able to walk up to about 10 feet away to get these photos.  These deer are pretty tame … or at least, not the brightest.

Mother and baby deer

Made it to Ithaca NY around midnight on Thursday and (with my parents) am getting my bearings.  So much to do!  Already excited to get to know this area, though … seems like an odd and beautiful place.

More to come!

I’m leaving the city.

Coming back from downtown tonight, I had a lot to think about (most of which I’m not going to post here).  At first I resented all the Lollapalooza goers who had taken over “my” city streets for the weekend – milling around on Michigan Avenue, clustering with cigarettes outside hotels, shuffling along El stations, littering and loitering.  I was going to a friend’s place for the day anyway, so I didn’t have time for sight-seeing, but just on principle:  couldn’t I spend some last moments in Chicago with the peaceful, generally empty streets at night?

This, however, is not the point.  Cities, and particularly Chicago, and particularly its public streets and parks, are for everyone.  Just because I am for the moment a city resident, and one who probably walks more than the average resident, my claim to the city as someone who “understands” it isn’t the right attitude to have.  Perhaps I’ve appreciated more of the city’s moods than some of those just in for the Lolla weekend, but for this weekend it really is their city as well as mine.  It’s easy for locals to grumble about the traffic and bother of special events (I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself), but it is these events, along with the everyday activity, that make the city what it is.  It’s okay to avoid the crowds on a summer weekend – but you nevertheless have to appreciate their right to crowd around, and the significance of those crowds for where you live.

And for someone like me, already saying the last parting words to their city, the crowds are a reminder that life goes on.  The city continues to move.  It is the product of its people, but does not rely on any one person to keep it going (okay, exception in Chicago, Mayor Daley).  Maybe I don’t want to remember Michigan Ave with the concert-going throngs; but maybe that’s the best way to remember it.  Vibrant, busy, an exciting place to be.  How many people have been excited about this event all summer, getting to come to a big city like Chicago?  It’s easy to get used to living here, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that it really is a special place.

I also couldn’t help but think about my own mental map of the city – an emotional geography overlaying the grid – and how much I’ll carry with me.  The city and I have grown pretty close.  A lot has happened here in three years.  If and when I come back to visit some of the places on my map, those visits will necessarily be ones of physical place but also temporal place – remembering when I was there and how I felt about it.  Some places I’ll be happy to visit.  Standing under the Bean at Millennium Park or walking over the river at North Avenue.  Other places I’m not so sure.  Will it still hurt to walk along Armitage?  Can I go back to the Museum of Contemporary Art or look at one of the bridges anytime soon?  Probably not.  But they’ll be there waiting, either way.

I’ve always been a strongly place-oriented person, even if I didn’t realize it until pretty recently.  Planning is therefore a good field for me.  History is more about time, which I have much more mixed feelings about, and anyway I think cultural history is more about a particular place (and its people, of course) than it is about the unfolding of time in a chain of causation.  Being place-oriented, however, means it hurts like hell to uproot.  I know very well that it’s a good time for me to go, not least to clear my head in less memory-saturated air.  But it’s not an easy thing.

I’m leaving the city.

But I’m taking a lot of places with me.

Leaving Chicago

… more specifically, the two new pavilions in the park dedicated to the centennial of the Chicago Plan, as envisioned by Burnham and Bennett.  I have not gotten a photo of them yet.

First:  maybe it was just that particular evening, but I noticed as many or more professional (looking) photographers taking photos of the new pavilions as there were actual people milling around and photographing them.  Tripods and such.  I think these might be more exciting to the press and architecture photographers than the average person; or maybe that’s just me who is underwhelmed by them.

Second:  walking around Millennium Park, I overhear a lot of people talking about their childhoods.  Totally supports my idea that the park is a big playground for adults as well as children.