Tag Archives: ann arbor

a walk in the park.

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from july 3rd-october 30th, i spent much of my free time walking the parks in ann arbor. i was initially surprised that there were over 150 parks in the city, but happy to discover the number. and so, with no sense of direction, and no expectations, other than to see what was out there, i wandered into the woods and stumbled into the greenspaces, open to whatever came my way.

 some of the things i discovered about the parks –

ann arbor has 152 parks, along with other recreational and activity spaces

not all of the parks were easy to find or to access, information and directions were vague at times – there were many secret entrances. during this adventure, i had to climb though brambles, through backyards, across driveways, park illegally, go over and under fences, across ravines, around hills, between fences, over water, under low trees, and behind school yards.

the parks total over 2,000 acres (more on that tomorrow)

they range in size from the tiniest pocket parks (postman’s rest and depot) to the largest- birdhills (161 acres) and the nichols arboretum (123 acres)

many different people/organizations help to care for them – the university of michigan school of natural resources, the boy and girl scouts, garden clubs, sportsmen’s clubs, land preservation groups, businesses, neighbors, schools, churches, anonymous individuals

they are used for all kinds of celebrations, get togethers, meetings, activities, sports in every season, as well as solitary endeavors

all kinds and ages of people and animals use the parks

there is a lot of water involved – rivers, creeks, streams, lakes

lots of trees, wildflowers, corn, berries, pine cones, apples, orchids, peonies, lilies, mushrooms, thistles, brambles, green spaces, vines, grasses, ravines, hills, fields, marshes, meadows

lots of rocks – from boulders to gravel

play areas of all kinds – for toddlers through adult sports enthusiasts

lots of structures – tree houses, forts, damns, benches, tables, huts, camp sites

lots of animals of every kind

incredible histories and memorials

lots of neighborhood parks – each has at least one park within it

at times i felt like i was in someone’s intimate space, like showing up and sharing their yard with them

other times, i was the only one in a large, incredibly beautiful space, in the middle of the city, or just on the outskirts, but deep in the woods, hidden away and far removed

some of the things i discovered about myself:

i am stronger and have much more stamina than when i began walking

i am apparently bite and injury resistant – never was bitten by any insect, animal, or human, only got scraped after my slide down a hill

i love walking deep in the woods in quiet solitude

it takes me about 40 minutes before i am deep in my zen zone when walking and then i could walk forever

i also love being amidst the wildlife and human activity in the parks at times

i went through 1 and 1/2 pairs of shoes

i discovered interesting lost/abandoned items along the way – mittens, socks, flip flops, shorts, underwear, glasses….

i am now a bit wealthier – (found 28 cents along the way)

i am able to walk in all weather conditions

i still have a horrendous sense of direction but always find my way back home

i found so much more than i ever expected, including an incredible sense of peace, and feel changed in ways that will stay with me forever

each and every park has a story, each one has its own personality, each one has very loyal caretakers, each one is valued by the community, each one is clearly loved by someone.

it was a long, but wonderful journey and when i finally reached the end of the list, it was bittersweet. along the way, i learned much about my city, the people who live here, the spaces within my community,  the nature that surrounds me, and even more about myself. thank you to ann arbor for providing such amazing places of beauty for all of us .

“many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.”

-john steinbeck

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roots.

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summers in the late 60s

mc5

grateful dead

play free concerts in the park bandshell

late summer 2017

grandsons free play in the same park bandshell

“dig into the roots of culture, and it will grow.

it’s like a grass that is growing, and it cannot stop,

and music is like the fertilizer for that.”

-burning spear

west park, ann arbor, mi, usa

(2 more days and 2 more parks to go)

 

band image credits: ann arbor news archives

welcome.

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‘the rock’ at george washington park

on central campus at the university of michigan

painted by volunteers with the michigan refugee assistance program

“seeking asylum is a human right.”

amnesty international

george washington park, ann arbor, mi, usa

postman’s rest.

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 A Little Wild Spot. The ramshackle old house pictured above, unoccupied for two years at the time this photo was taken in 1966, was Anne Mueller’s “rough box.” After her death at the age of 85, her wildflower garden on the corner was deeded to the city for a park. The house now gone, Postman’s Rest Park, was named as a tribute to Norm Kern and Bob Schlupe, the mail carriers who stopped each day to see that “Annie” was all right when she was widowed and left without family in her later years. (ann arbor news, 1972)

1972 postman’s rest park 2017 postman’s rest park

during my visit to this tiny park

situated on a quiet and peaceful corner

in a tree-lined neighborhood

filled with old bungalows, gardens, and lawns

i sat in the swing for a while

taking it all in

looking around

at the greenery and wildflowers

there was a very special

warm and welcoming feeling

i wanted to know more about this lovely space

and was so pleasantly surprised

to discover its touching story

a pioneering newspaperwoman, ann mueller

 left this beautiful space

where her wildflower garden had once bloomed

as a tribute to those who cared.

“take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
-ovid

credits: news photo and caption – 1966 ann arbor news,  jack stubbs – 1972 ann arbor news

 

audience.

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walking through a park

on a beautiful day

 looking up to the sky

and 

quietly sitting way up there

was a very polite and interested audience

it was standing room only. 

“ive never had any idea that what I like would resonate with the audience, and i’m pleasantly surprised when it does.”

-tom petty (r.i.p.)

 

 

south pond park, ann arbor, michigan, usa