Monday, August 30, 2010

Ann Arbor

If there's one thing I'd forgotten about Ann Arbor while I was living in Marquette, it's that it gets incredibly warm here. It gets so warm that the cicadas stop singing, and the fox squirrels splay themselves out on branches in an attempt to cool their bodies. It gets so warm that I'm fairly certain I don't want to photograph any recently-dead (and especially not bloated) animals until fall sets in, for fear that their smells might never leave my nostrils.

I haven't seen too much in the way of wildlife -- dead or alive -- besides birds. Steph and I installed a few birdfeeders on our porch, and they have been frequented by a wide variety of species. Then there are, of course, the fox squirrels, which are numerous in the neighborhoods; they are everywhere and possess an uncanny ability to not be hit by cars.

To date, I have photographed only one dead animal since our move, and it was a juvenile house sparrow. I discovered it in the parking lot of our apartment complex; it hadn't been there for long, but it was resting in such a way that it looked like the body had, at one point, been run over by a bicycle or car.

August Sparrow I

I moved it off the pavement and placed it at the base of a tree; checking back on it a day later, we discovered not only ants and flies had taken to the body, but a yellowjacket, as well. The next day, the sparrow was gone.

On a later day, while walking outside our apartment complex, Steph found a dead cicada on the sidewalk. Can insects be "useless creatures" too? Of course they can -- and this dead cicada, as it turns out, was full of ants.


Though I find dead insects fascinating, I'm not so sure I want to include them in this project. They are certainly photogenic, and are no doubt despised by many; however, I think that they would make a good, but separate, photographic series.

There are many places I want to explore, but because the vegetation (not to mention poison ivy) is so lush, I'll have to wait until the plants die back in a few months. Until then, I'll photograph what I can find, but subjects may be few and far-between.


  1. There's certainly live insects at Scheffler Park, small non-biting ones that appear to be attracted to Mallett's Creek.

    I'll keep my eyes, ears, and nose peeled.

    (welcome back!)

  2. Marjorie,
    It's so cool that you're continuing to do your project while in Ann Arbor! I've been meaning to contact you recently. A few weeks ago, I took a trip with my boyfriend to Empire, Michigan. While walking along the beach I found several "Useless creatures" - Full fish skeletons were most common, along with one or two dead gulls. I thought of your project and took a number of pictures! While I'm sure you would have undoubtedly done a better job, I can send you the pics I did take if you would like to see them. Hope you and Stephanie have been enjoying Ann Arbor. :)

    ~ Jenny Gordon

  3. @Ed - Thanks! Last night I saw some bats from our apartment deck, eating bugs.

    @Jenny - I'd love to see the photos you took! I was just out in Empire myself, a couple of days ago, though I didn't see any dead critters. We've been enjoying Ann Arbor quite a bit so far (except for the heat, holy cow), there's so much to DO and SEE here!

  4. What's your email? I'll send them to ya :) I'm glad you've been enjoying ann arbor so much! It's a great town.

  5. You can reach me at jorie.dupre AT gmail DOT com. And yeah, it's fun to be back, though today it was a little tricky avoiding football game traffic!