JD Allinder

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.

  1. Enjoy your stories. Wish you would write a book.

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