Ahhh…I swung gently in the hammock gazing up at the sun peeking through the pines while the river below me babbled a soothing rhythm. It was the perfect way to unwind during the holiday weekend. I had a book in my hands, but my mind went wandering down a different path. Daydreaming is highly underrated, and I realized I need to make more time for it.
Being on a river in the summer always reminds me of visiting my Uncle Art and Aunt Marie with my sisters, cousin and grandparents. They had a cottage on the Tittabawassee River, and we spent a week or so there every year. As I stared up at the sky last Saturday, I daydreamed about those memories.
My Uncle Art was a bigger-than-life character of the best sort who taught me things like how to row a boat, dig for potatoes, make a campfire and bait a hook. My sweet aunt was an amazing cook who could magically produce an entire meal in minutes with whatever ingredients she was given. My grandparents were the kindest people you could ever meet, and I adored spending time with them. Some of my greatest childhood memories are wrapped up in my vacations there.
I learned to canoe, water ski, fish, garden and a host of other things during those days. I discovered where to look for deer, how to care for chickens, what poison ivy looks like and how to pick the best blueberries. During one of those berry-gathering excursions, I also learned what a bee sting feels like, so I learned how to be a little more watchful when reaching my hands toward the plants. The taste of those fresh berries ladled into bumpy milk glass bowls with a splash of cream almost made the sting go away completely.
Though we Spartans bleed green and white, we also have an amazing history with this blue fruit. For more than 50 years, MSU researchers have been perfecting the perfect berry and the university holds seven patents for cultivars with more in the pipeline. July is National Blueberry Month so check out Building a better blueberry to learn more about the role Spartans have played in the industry.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Jenna Merony, a 2021 graduate with degrees in English and professional and public writing, has spent some time daydreaming. Maybe not about blueberries and childhood vacations, but whatever it is that feeds her love of writing. Read her Student view: Finding my path to learn about her experience at MSU and a study abroad trip in Ireland.
Sometimes, it’s important to not just dream about something, but take action to make it a reality. Julie Libarkin, a professor of environmental science, is doing something about addressing racism in her field of geoscience. Read her Faculty voice: Building a community vision for antiracism to learn about her work.
The vision of a better tomorrow is something all Spartans share. We’re doing work to screen for dementia with artificial intelligence, finding ways to understand the science of early pregnancy, and doubling the state’s sexual assault nurse examiners.
And we continue to send thousands of new graduates into the world with the skills, smarts, experience and determination to make a difference. While we were able to celebrate this year with the class of 2021, we never fully got to applaud the class of 2020 due to COVID-19. But we’ve made plans to do just that with special ceremonies that will take place this fall.
Innovation and creativity usually start with a dream to fix something or find a better way. Beloved children’s author Judy Blume once said, “You know what I worry about? I worry that kids today don’t have enough time to just sit and daydream.” I would extend that to kids and grownups alike. Find the time, Spartans. Grab a seat and let your mind wander. Perfect the art of daydreaming. You never know what you might think up. Spartans Will.