I am accompanying the Territorial Youth Secretary this weekend.

She is at Little Pine Island Camp for Youth Councils in the Western Michigan and Northern Indiana Division and I get to stay with her, as long as I keep mostly out of sight per our working agreement.  This evening I went in to Grand Rapids for a bite to eat, a great bowl of vegetable soup and bread at the Wealthy Street Bakery.  I splurged on a caffe breve.  It was good.  It’s like a soothing spa experience on the inside.

Wealthy Street Bakery is a few blocks away from Sigsbee Street where our daughter Natalya and her family lived for most of this past year.  They moved away this Wednesday for an internship at an organic farm near Adrian MI.  Her oldest son, Zane, moved with a new dog bite.  It sounds frightening to say that he was attacked by a pit bull, true.  The good thing is that he is fine with only an ugly looking gash where a dog would naturally bite a person running away.  You understand.

Dogs in the city carry a different meaning from dogs in the country.  I grew up in the country.  Our dogs lived outside, they barked at sounds in the night, surrounded strange autos turning around in our driveway.  A dog in the city carries a different significance.

The night before he moved, Zane was playing with his friend Meechee in front of the house when the dog belonging to the neighbor across the street once again came for whoever happened to be in sight.  Meechee got in to the gate safely.  Zane almost did.  Meechee’s sisters came to Zane’s rescue, chasing away the dog and getting the boy through the gate.  Three hours at the ER.  Bandaged and a tetanus shot.  He’s okay.

After that caffe breve (I’ve got to go back tomorrow) I drove past the house.  What if they encountered some difficulty in packing and were still there?  I drove past.  The house was empty.

To Wealthy and up Diamond.  Through this charming urban neighborhood.  Many young adults walking on this early spring evening in Michigan.  A number of families.  A neighborhood unlike Chicago neighborhoods.  Quieter, muted, slower rhythms.  This part of Grand Rapids like much of the city has older housing stock.  Now, a generation of Americans used to well-worn clothes from resale shops is now inhabiting well-worn neighborhoods.  It’s charming, is counter the mid 2oth century American dream of socio-economic upward mobility and conspicuous consumption.  Conspicuously inconspicuous.

Here in Grand Rapids.  St Louis’ Denton Park.  Detroit a block or two west of Woodward.  These new chapters in urban living across America have now appeared.  Their muted presence expresses scaled down expectations and distancing from a now fading view.

Natalya’s grandfather, a Minnesota farmer, would have grinned to hear that she’s going to be a farmer.  Not on a corporation owned spread of several thousand acres.  On a small organic Michigan farm maybe not even a hundred acres.

Take a look at what is happening in America and in its cities.  In quiet and subtle ways change is going on, people are moving.  But the dogs keep biting.

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