It was another nothin’ special weather morning … a bleak-looking sky and the high humidity wasn’t too inviting either when I rolled out the door to start my walk. Where should I go this morning? Not to Council Point Park – still too wet. I decided to split up my walk and mosey on over to Lincoln Park Days and stroll around the grounds to get a flavor of the carnival atmosphere. Well, they weren’t open yet, so there were no enticing smells of elephant ears or corn dogs and the cotton candy machine was not yet spinning that lighter-than-air treat either. Oh well, I’ll wait ‘til next year now.
Next, I headed the opposite way and decided I’d at least walk to the border of Wyandotte and Lincoln Park and get in four or five miles today. As I was wending my way to Wyandotte, an elderly man stopped me and told me he was out for his daily morning walk. I said “me too – where are you headed?” He said he walked to the gas station every morning to get his paper and on bad weather days he rode his exercise bike in the basement. We walked along companionably, keeping pace with one another, all the while chit-chatting about the weather and walking and whatnot. Suddenly he turned to me and said “I’ll be 92 years old in October” … well, that just floored me and I told him that, adding that he sure didn’t look or act his age, and I wasn’t just flattering him. He beamed when I said that and I think I made his day. He was very upbeat and I really enjoyed our conversation. But we eventually parted ways and I headed down Emmons Boulevard, knowing my feet should find the way for sure, since I’ve been beating a path that way so often in recent weeks.
I got to the borderline of Lincoln Park and Wyandotte and paused for a minute, as I usually do, to check the dirty Ecorse Creek for waterfowl … I’ve never seen ducks or geese there anymore since that one day that they were all frolicking in the water together with their young. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time I guess. As I stood woolgathering and pondering life on the little bridge over the Creek, a woman came up from behind and startled me. She was pushing a double baby stroller. I glanced at the infants, who didn’t look like twins, from what I could tell, since their bonnets and blankets shielded their tiny faces. I said “good morning” but she didn’t return the greeting, nor did the young tyke who was grasping onto the stroller handle as they walked slowly along. I just stood there looking into the water for a few more minutes and the little girl broke away and ran over to where a patch of Queen Anne’s Lace was growing wild down by the banks of the Creek. She pulled hard to grab a few strands of that plant, then walked to another patch and got some more … just enough for a “bouquet” and then she raced back and presented them to her mother with a flourish. “Look Mommy – I picked these for you” she said, and her mother looked at her with disdain and said “those are weeds … throw them away before you get dirty!” I watched the interplay out of the corner of my eye as the little girl tossed those delicate and lacy weeds over the railing and into the water. I didn’t comment of course – that would have been rude of me to do so. I remember the big meadow at the end of our street that later became Hopedale Plaza. I was always bringing home Queen Anne’s Lace for my mom when I was about that same age. Sometimes it was buttercups. I recall a chubby fist filled with “flowers” and making a grand presentation, then those blooms arranged nicely by my mom, and tucked into some water in a tall, empty apple butter jar. Sure, they weren’t roses, but they were received and cherished just as if they were. After the family had turned a corner and was out of sight, I just shook my head and started for home.
As I continued my trek, my mind kept wandering back to those chance encounters with very different strangers. To quote Abe Lincoln … “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”