JD Allinder

Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Indian Summer

In Posts on October 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Treein' a 'coon

Southeast Michigan got hit with a wave of Indian Summer early this week that sent everyone into an outdoor tizzy. The parks and streets were crammed with shorts and t-shirted people running, biking, and walking. Summer is my least favorite season, so I certainly don’t enjoy summer-like weather in autumn, but I don’t want to be a grump, so I keep my displeasure to myself.

Jane and I have been enjoying daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s, but this week we hit 70 degrees. It’s nice opening the doors and windows and airing out the house, but other than that it’s just a pain. When the weather’s cool, we’re able to walk at night in sketchy neighborhoods, through our favorite alleys, and into the parks along the river. (All the hoodlums vanish the instant the mercury dips below 50.) This week, though, saw the return of shady characters, especially in the parks. Jane and I made a quick detour out of Riverside Park two nights ago when we ran into a gang of teenagers who were obviously up to no good. Argh. Fortunately, things are cooling down again today. It’s a bit drizzly, and it looks like this weekend we’ll see the peak of fall colors.

Yesterday was the warmest of our Indian Summer days, and, despite my aforementioned feelings on the subject, Jane and I enjoyed a wonderful adventure. Jane loves adventure – novelty – and I do, too, but I can’t produce it every day. Some days (most actually) are just the daily grind – not a lot of surprises. Just like kids have to accept that not every day can be a holiday, dogs have to accept that sometimes exercise is just routine, maybe even dull. Jane’s cool with boring, routine exercise days; it’s me that they kill. I feel guilty if every outing isn’t punctuated by excitement, mystery, and intrigue (with a happy, exhausted ending, of course). Anyway, we got one of those rare days that can’t be planned – they just happen on their own – yesterday.

We started out at St. Joe’s Hospital walking north along the Huron River. We crossed over the river, walked along the railroad tracks, and made our way through Parker Mill Park. We took the walk ramp under Geddes Road to the north side of the park where there’s a hideous new picnic structure that looks like something from “The Flinstones.” (It’s obviously trying very hard to blend in with the wooded setting, but it misses its mark by a long shot. It just looks ridiculous.) At any rate, just to the west of the entrance to Bedrock is an almost imperceptible, narrow path running down the side of the hill and into the woods. (Marty the guerilla hiker told me about it.) Jane and I entered the path and walked along for a mile or so, expecting to run into civilization, but it just kept going. It snaked along a beautiful tributary, up across steep hills, even across an old, rotted bridge.

Rock Climbing Jane

At one point we even came upon this enormous, apparently disused field. (There’s a rusted gate at one end. Did it once contain grazing cows?)

We're not in Kansas anymore.

It was here that we met an older, somewhat eccentric (though obviously well-to-do) dog lady who was tromping across the field with her two middle-aged golden retrievers, Becky and Jody, and their giant labradoodle buddy Truman. I had no idea where I was and was pretty disoriented, so the woman (whose name I never got) filled me in with all the scoop and even took me off in the woods to show me her secret trail that runs on the opposite side of the tributary that Jane and I had previously explored. We ended up walking with and talking to this woman for about 20 minutes or so, and it was great fun. Becky was an especially sweet dog, and her instant crush on me made Jane insanely jealous.

We eventually said goodbye to the woman of the woods and made our way back the five miles or so to St. Joe’s. We were both exhausted – that special, satisfied kind of exhausted. We drove home in silence, all of our needs met.

I’ve looked up the area where we were walking online and it’s maybe a mile square of land north of Geddes and east of Dixboro Roads. Here’s a satellite view. It eventually runs into Radrick Farms Golf Course (which is rumored to be dog friendly in the off season), but looks like there’s a sliver of woods to the west of Radrick through which Jane and I could cross, undisturbed, and hike a couple of miles north to Matthai Botanical Gardens. But that’s another adventure for another day.

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Year One

In Posts on October 1, 2009 at 12:07 am

Today is Jane’s and my one year anniversary. I mentioned this to a friend earlier this afternoon, and she marveled that it’s already been a year – said it seems like just yesterday Jane came to live with me. I know I’m supposed to agree – say that the year just flew by – but it does feel like a year. Jane and I have been together 24/7, and I’ve been highly conscious of her development and our bonding. It’s been a wonderful year, and I’m thankful that I’ve had as much time to spend with her as I have. I feel like we’ve accomplished several years’ worth of work.

Today began just like any other day. I rose early to drink coffee and read. Jane stayed in bed scratching and yawning for an extra half hour.

Sleepy Jane

After breakfast, she spent the morning lounging in the garden, alternating between napping in the sun and harassing the squirrels who’ve gone into overdrive getting their stores in order for the winter.
Jane lounging in the garden

It was a cold and sunny morning – every dog’s favorite combination (mine, too). After lunch we went to LeFurge Nature Preserve for a lovely autumn walkabout. Jane and I have been practicing about thirty minutes of off-leash walking every day, but today we did a couple of hours. We’ve been working off-leash mostly in fields, prairies, and parks. This afternoon, though, we expanded our repertoire to include the woods at the back of LeFurge. The woods were the final frontier for me – so many distractions – but Jane did great. I talked to her most of the thirty minutes or so, and she stayed close by me, sometimes following, sometimes leading. While I let her run ahead in open areas, I’m still not comfortable letting her out of my sight in the woods. She’s just such a hound. If she picks up a scent, she can vanish.

And speaking of hound, she’s become quite the bird dog, too. Though she doesn’t point, she’s developed patience and great stealth, and today she brilliantly flushed numerous pheasants in the brush along Vreeland Road. It’s really a joy watching her work.

On the prowl

After our outing, Jane rested and let me get some work done. Our routine really is like clockwork, and we rarely stray from it. This evening we took our pre-dinner walk around the city. We saw Pelu the puggle and played stick in Riverside Park. It got dark early – cold, too. The shadows were long, and the streets were empty. It’s my favorite time of year. I get the whole world to myself.

For dinner I made Jane’s favorite – sweet potato casserole (with blueberries, apples, and assorted raw veggies and ground flaxseed) – and a butcher bone bigger than her head for dessert. It was a great day, just about perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better one, nor a better dog. I am blessed.