Where the wild things are

Chicago creatures, sought for and stumbled upon.

In spring a Hyde Parker’s fancy turns to ducklings, but last week a rarer bird flew down and sat for a good 20 minutes on the fire escape outside my kitchen: a kestrel (identified with help from Instagram friends). I wasn’t watching for her—I was just fortunate to be present at the right moment, making a late cup of coffee on a Saturday afternoon. I took advantage of the serendipity, planting myself by the window to admire her.

The bird rewarded my attention, turning around mid-perch to show all sides: a front fluffily unkempt, almost silly; then her sleek, patterned predator’s back. With tail feathers facing me, she swiveled her head several times to return my stare. I was glad to not be a mouse.

That was sheer luck, but it’s nice to have a neighborhood spot, Botany Pond, that offers wildfowl on demand this time of year. Struck with spring fever, the Magazine staff was inspired to decorate this issue’s cover with plants and animals that have lived and thrived in that well-trodden spot over the 125 years since it opened. The populations can wax and wane; our cover represents a kind of transhistorical catalog and includes but a fraction of the pond’s sometime inhabitants. We hope it will hold your gaze for a happy while.

Still chasing paper

You might notice that this issue is a bit shorter than usual as supply chain problems continue. To bridge the gap in our paper supply, we’ve moved a couple of items online: an alumni essay by nurse Theresa Brown, AB’87, PhD’94, and an excerpt from the recently reissued memoir of Gertrude Beasley, AM 1918. Both writers cast a sharp eye on hardship, wringing something valuable from suffering through their powers of keen scrutiny. Learn about Brown and Beasley and read their own well-observed stories in “Health Care from the Other Side” and “A Writer, Lost and Found.” 

You say goodbye, I say hello

In March we were sad to bid farewell to Andrew Peart, AM’16, PhD’18, alumni news editor since 2017. We miss Andrew’s well-wrought words and affable presence, and look forward to turning the tables and printing his alumni news as we hear of his new projects and pursuits.

In April, however, we were thrilled as we welcomed former contributing editor Maureen Searcy as the Magazine’s associate editor for science. Maureen’s stories have long graced these pages, bringing to life UChicago’s illustrious scientific past and present, such as in her 2020 cover profile of Mr. Tornado, Ted Fujita, and last year’s deep dive into professor Andrea King’s work to understand alcohol use disorder. In Maureen’s hands, the future of UChicago science will be just as compellingly told.