… a special anniversary. More about that at the end of this post.
I stayed close to home and didn’t venture far on this first day of the long holiday weekend. There is construction everywhere, and, with so many of our parks still soggy and swampy and the media advising us to stay away from woodsy and marshy areas due to the EEE mosquito-borne virus crisis, I figured it was prudent to just stick close to home.
Honestly, driving isn’t very fun anymore between dodging orange barrels and cones and then there are all the potholes. There are so many road construction projects in the Mitten State right now, the traffic reporters are tongue tied by the time they relay them all and “the Game of Cones” is how the media refers to Michigan’s current road construction woes.
Our new governor’s campaign promise was she would “fix the damn roads” so drivers, fed up with car-swallowing potholes, flat tires and broken axles, were buoyed by her proclamation. To gain revenue to repair those roads, Governor Whitmer had proposed a gas tax of $0.45 cents, ($0.15 at six-month intervals beginning in October), but it likely will not be implemented as scheduled. So, our roads will continue to crack and crumble and they are even a walking hazard.
Corncobs, ‘maters and cruising on a country road.
So you hop into the car to get from Point A to Point B, but driving has lost its appeal in my opinion. Back when I was a kid, and even a teenager, I remember my folks and me going on a Sunday afternoon drive. My father had a 1972 Chevy Impala and it was the Sunday car. During the week he drove a VW Fastback stick shift and that was because he worked near a cement factory and didn’t want the cement dust collecting all over his “baby”. So every Sunday, we’d take a long drive out in the country.
Long before the large produce markets were available, and even before the tiny farmers market set up shop in our city, come August, a Sunday drive in the country was the ideal way to get the pick of the produce from the roadside stands.
We would pass by dozens of roadside stands, trying to accomplish “one-stop shopping” and, as my father slowed down the car, my mother craned her neck to peer at each stand’s offerings. Sometimes there was a sign advertising their produce; other times you could see the husks of corn, their silks riffling in the breeze, or the bright red tomatoes spilling out of a wooden basket. There would be cukes big enough to put a knot on your head if you chose to wield them just right. Sun-ripened peaches and plums would magically become a cobbler or kuchen before week’s end. My mother would call out “do you have green beans, I’d love to make a stew?” And, if it was time for new potatoes, she’d be salivating thinking about those too. Mom would boil them with the skins on, split them open and spread pats of sweet butter which formed golden pools on our dinner plates. When we finally stopped the car, I remember you’d just point at a basket and they’d have it turned upside down and the contents emptied into a brown bag in a heartbeat. No cash registers were around as the tallying of all produce was done in the proprietor’s head, or on a scratch pad.
My mom was a tough customer and wanted to check out the beefsteak tomatoes herself – she was not going to take their word that there were no mushy ones on the bottom. Her inspection tended to rile the vendor and he grimaced while he said “lady – I throw the bad ones out or eat ‘em myself!” She’d reluctantly relent and grab a basket and off we’d go, returning the following week, weather permitting. This continued through September. Often the vendors had bouquets of Fall flowers for a song, so sunflowers and cheery mums, the occasional daisies or Black-eyed Susans would grace the kitchen counter until the next Sunday outing.
I had such vivid memories of those roadside stands while passing some enroute to Oakwoods Metropark last Saturday morning. I couldn’t help but flash back all those years ago, as it was such a regular ritual and an excuse to run “Old Betsy” at the same time. We’d get home later in the day and Mom would have those tomatoes out of the basket, washing the field dirt off and slicing them with the long, serrated knife in record time. Occasionally she’d swipe one for herself, leaning over the sink with a huge tomato in one hand, the salt shaker in the other, a happy grin on her face and juice dribbling down her chin as she savored that guilty pleasure. Mom was like the character of Edward X. Delaney in the Lawrence Sanders novels, the Detective who liked devouring sloppy deli sandwiches over the sink as he pondered his tricky cases. Our tomato slices were stacked on hot, crispy buttered toast, no bacon or lettuce … a no-frills treat.
Trek bucket list.
It is eight years ago this Labor Day weekend since I began my walking regimen, so I decided to write about that special anniversary.
Just like last year, in the Spring I made a mental list of what walking or miscellaneous events I would like to attend and parks I wanted to visit. The incessant Spring rain annoyingly messed up my weekend walking agenda, and, when finally the torrential rain ceased, the lakeshore flooding kept me away from several of the state parks and Metroparks as well. It seemed wherever I did venture, parks were soggy or muddy or worse, mosquito laden. So I may have not fulfilled my trek bucket list, but, a constant in my walking regimen is Council Point Park, my favorite nature nook, and it never disappoints. Though I began my walking regimen on Labor Day weekend of 2011, I never started walking at this venue until May of 2013.
Rules of the road.
No walk is the same, nor is it mundane. If you are mindful of your surroundings, there are endless things to notice and take delight in at the Park, or even along the way, as you will see in the captioned photos below: