(Archival Photographic Files, apf7-05671-019, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library)

A new nest

Hyde Park’s greenest denizens and the Magazine’s greenest editors.

I distinctly remember the first slash of green. It was October 1993 and I had arrived in Hyde Park a few weeks earlier to start graduate school in English. I was crossing the Midway one overcast afternoon to pick up a printer I’d ordered from the computer store. Against an opaque, steel-gray sky, a monk parakeet winged brightly from one tree to the next and alit, at eye level, to peck at a berry.

I hadn’t heard about the neighborhood’s parakeet colony, so the moment was pure, joyful surprise. Before long, a few more of the birds appeared, diminishing my sense of seeing something really rare. By the next summer I had run the gamut from wonder to bored familiarity to high dudgeon—a Hyde Park rite of passage?—after one of the parakeets’ nests on an electrical pole caught fire, blowing out my power  for an evening. Speaking last month to the curator of the current Oriental Institute Museum show for “Bird by Bird” restored some of that initial delight, and not only in Chicago’s more exotic avians. It’s been a while since I’ve spotted a parakeet, but even humble sparrows, she persuaded me, are worth pausing to observe.

There are several flights and landings to report in our office. After ten years—nearly four as editor—Amy Braverman Puma has taken on a new role at the University, overseeing other publications for alumni and friends while spending more time at home with her preschoolers. She remains a contributing editor and, to the Magazine’s great good fortune, is cheerfully providing counsel from a new desk only 30 steps away from where we sit—I counted.

Meanwhile, a few months after Ruth E. Kott’s departure, Katherine Muhlenkamp took the reins as alumni news editor on October 29. Kate has worked as an alumni relations and development writer at the University for five years and has regularly contributed to these pages. We warmly welcome her to the Magazine and thank copy editor/writer Katie Elliott and temporary alumni news editor Ally Batty, as well as the Magazine’s interns, for gracefully bridging the gap since July.

Since September, I’ve enjoyed learning my way around the Magazine as editor and, while asking a question a minute of anyone within earshot, putting together this issue with the rest of the staff’s help. They make it a lot easier being green.