Got out of the house on Sunday, with my partner in love and wandering, to do some street photography in a small theatre town just outside Ann Arbor. It was a beautiful, sunny day — “second summer” is a common event in Michigan in mid-autumn — so we grabbed our cameras and strolled around town for a bit.
The first part of our wandering was in the heart of downtown, and through the neighborhoods nearby. There were maybe 20 other people wandering around besides us. We relished in the quiet, calm hush (except for the chit-chit-chittering of the many squirrels and chickadees).
It seemed like everyone was out either repainting their front steps or picking up Halloween decorations, a project which would take them several hours of labor — I felt a tinge of sorrow for them, as they were missing out on a leisurely day of enjoying the sunshine (as we were having). We shared our observation with a friendly couple who were cleaning up their front yard. She countered that only a fool would clean up their yard on any other day but one like this. Touché, Chelsea.
It was apparent they’d had an elaborate display set up, with ghosts and witches and feet sticking up out of the ground. The woman asked us if we had seen it while it was up in all its glory. No, not this year, I admitted, although I had been to Chelsea several times growing up, when I lived nearby.
I drummed up the nerve to ask if I could take their picture, and after a brief pause and a giggle, they said it would be okay, they guess. I almost asked for a stylized portrait but chickened out at the last minute. Missed opportunities – they had the most amazing props.
At the end of the street was a large gate, designating the entrance to the Oak Grove Cemetery. It was mid-afternoon, and the sun was positioned perfectly behind the trees. The time was ripe for graveyard shooting, and a long, ever-branching, ever-captivating conversation about life, love, death, and why are these squirrels so freaking loud?! In short, it was awesome.
We headed back into town for a small bite to eat, thankful that it was warm enough for outdoor dining (low risk tolerance travelers that we are). Still looking for photo opportunities, so we took a different neighborhood road back, and were ambushed by this highly committed neighboorhood watch member:
I greatly appreciated walking amongst so many displays of togetherness, healing, and community. It’s easy to forget in the comfort of your own home, with only the raging of the internet voices serving as your understanding of what the rest of humanity is up to, that there is kindness all around us. That there are many, many people who want peace, love, and understanding, and have their hands outstretched with compassion in the universal gesture of, “I see you, I respect you, I will always welcome you.” As my first foray into public since hibernating during U.S. election week, this was just what I needed.
Battery is sufficiently charged for the next few days. Thanks to Danger for making the day trip both possible and wonderful, and Keith King of the Village Voyager blog for all the street photography inspiration (and pep talks).
See you again soon, Chelsea. Thanks for all the fish.
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