Is it wrong to multi task? I think not. Tonight I incorporated our traditional family trick or treating with a walk in Lansing. By walk, I really mean roller skating. It counts, right? My costume was a Lansing Derby Vixen. A roller skating mad woman. I had this costume picked out for a few months now. As a child I would have loved to have been a roller Derby Vixen; anything to be able to wear roller skates trick or treating. Well, 30 years later (and in the same pair of skates) I found it wasn’t as easy as I would have thought. But still as enjoyable! With a few jovial comments about staying safe I glided my way from house to house, ushering my 4-year-old twins ahead of me. They liked telling the home owners that their mom was on skates. All would laugh. I would too, knowing that I was performing the greatest trick of all; showing my kids their mom isn’t the type of mom that sits in the car waiting for them to brokerage their candy deal. I was the kind of mom that goes the distance with them; sometimes, even, on wheels. Happy Halloween!
Today’s walk centered around Old Town. I was there to drop off a few spare baby boy clothes we had. A friend put together a charity drop off for a local family whose house had exploded last week. I didn’t realize how local until I started walking and came across the house. It was a pile of rubble. The family was evacuated moments before the explosion. They are all safe yet all their belongings, including all the baby shower gifts they had received, are now a ten foot demolition pile. There is so much stress with having a new baby. Imagine, for a moment, that the home you were decorating, filling with new baby blue gifts, rearranging furniture in, is gone. The place you ate your meals, fed your dog, watched the mail person deliver your mail to, is a crumbled mess on the corner. I can only hope this family has friends or family to lean on during this trying time. I can only pray that this family can find the strength to not lose hope they can have a home again. I can only love how generous the folks of Lansing can be to help out this family and many others who have become displaced. To me, the generous, hopeful, helpful spirit of the people who live in Lansing is what overwhelmingly makes it one of the best places to live. To LoveLansing is to Love Lansing and all the people in it and around it. Lansing is full of builders. We’ve built cities. We’ve built cars. We’ve built neighborhoods. Now we are building a community to be proud of.
I use to live in Colonial Village. I use to run too. One of my favorite running routes was along Moores River Drive. The houses are gorgeous; castle like. It also parallels the river. At one point Francis Park has added a parking area. It’s a perfect addition for the area. It is places like this that really help me remember why I love living in Lansing as much as I do.
This Beatles’ song came on the radio as I was driving home from this walk. It seemed completely appropriate as a title song for this day’s walk. Today would have been my brother’s 39th birthday. He died at the age of 17 in a car accident. I was 19 when this happened. On this day I decided to go back “home” and walk some of the streets surrounding the house I grew up on.
“Up the hill”, “Filley Park”, “The Bakery”,”The Woods”. All descriptive names that mean nothing to most. To me, my brother and our two friends it was our world. We all grew up on a quaint dead end road in north Lansing. My brother and I lived in the last house on the road. Our driveway was unpaved. There was a row of large rocks that crossed the most northern part of the driveway to keep drivers from cutting through to the road north of us. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. There was a walking path that many would use to walk through, including Betty, the elderly lady who would visit her friend on Howe Rd. Traveling up this path led you “Up the Hill”. Across our driveway opposite our house was a wooded area. This was the “woods”. It was our source of entertainment for most days. We made forts. We climbed trees. We played hide and go seek. We had a spring fed stream. My brother loved creating things for us to do in the woods. He made a “Tarzan Swing”, a Tepee, a “Demon Drop” ride using a dog cage and an old mattress. He created games where we searched for hidden treasures. Sometimes we just walked the paths or had picnics. It was a place of adventure. Now it is an over grown wooded lot at the end of a dead end road. Its magic seems to be missing. Maybe the source of joy was always just the spirited imagination of a young boy.
This was a fast trip around memory lane. Pat, Evan and Ellie joined me this time. We fit a lot into a small walk. We were able to stop at Taco Bell for small treats. This one happens to be at the corner of the street my aunt lives on. After visiting her for a minute we continued down her dead-end road to a path. This was the trail that connected her dead-end road to the dead-end road my family lived on. The path circled a large hill named “Motorcycle Hill”. It was known for its dirt bike trails and possible hideout for dubious behavior. There is a house on it now.
Taking the trail in the other direction it leads to the fields that circled my elementary school. I think there are more dead-end roads in this area than in all of Lansing. I will let you know if this is true as I continue to explore Lansing. Multiple paths, with exposed worn smooth roots, leading to residents’ homes, ball parks, BMX parks, playground equipment, a community center and Gier Park elementary. Standing on the same playground I played on 35 years ago it was amazing to see all the activity below us. All of this within a square block. Up one more block and there was Otto Middle School. My middle school. My father in law taught there for 38 years. I went there for two.
So many memories in such a small distance. Different, yet incredibly the same.
There is a certain amount of uncertainty to parking a car, getting out and walking. It’s different from heading out to a park or a familiar neighborhood. There might be risks. There might not be. I’ve found that as I think this through, there are certain neighborhoods that I really look forward to walking; Old Town, Downtown, Washington Square, the neighborhood I grew up in, my grandma’s neighborhood that I know as well as my own, neighborhoods around the schools I went to. There are also the neighborhoods I’m a bit leery about walking. Today I traversed a neighborhood that I had never been to. It was nestled between the 127 highway and Michigan Ave. I was completely surprised by the tranquility of this neighborhood. Despite the constant drone of the highway it was peaceful. The Cape Cod style homes were perfectly manicured. Many had external decorations, plants, accessories, even signs with the homeowner’s name to enhance the appeal. The subtle smell of dryer sheet permeated the air. On two separate streets I came across a middle-aged man trimming his pristine lawn with an electric edger. Both acknowledged my passing with a smile or a nod. I felt safe here.
As I crossed over Michigan Ave. into the neighborhood directly south I felt I had passed through some sort of barrier. A twilight zone. The lawns were over grown. Cars were broken down. There was trash on the sidewalks and many of the driveways were unpaved. The only person I saw scowled at me as I passed. I was struck by the contrast. These neighborhoods were less than a block apart yet social-economically miles apart. This was a pattern I would probably find all over Lansing. I wonder if I could find some reason to it?
My next highlight of this walk was that I was finally able to communicate my mission to someone. Someone who would completely get it, and he did; the local mailman. As I was about to walk past him he asked me about my camera and I answered his question by explaining my goal to walk every street in Lansing. He was intrigued and very optimistic about my project. It was a shot in the arm I really needed. Thanks mister post man! He also gave me my first bit of advice: get a dog spray. He thinks I will really need that. Given his occupation I think I will do exactly as he says!
Here is my walk map for today: Map
Sometimes getting the nerve to actually start something is the hardest part! Today I started walking every street in Lansing, Mi. I had to fight the feeling to tell everyone we passed. I figure most won’t care, some really will and a few will love it.
We started at the Capitol. The epicenter of Lansing and even Michigan, I guess. I love the Capitol. On a day like today, with perfect skies, it practically glows! There is a fantastic crowd out in the day time. On Washington Square there was a nice group out as well. Everyone was really friendly. We got at least 5 smiles/”hi” greetings. Maybe it was because Ellie was with me though. She’s always good for some positive attention.
I think we walked about a mile. We drew it onto the map. It wasn’t a bad start but the 1/4 inch square inside a 14 by 7 inch area is a little daunting. I think I like the challenge though. On the drive home I wanted to stop at places just to walk around them. What a crazy urge.
Tomorrow we were going to the Market for Harvest Fest. I think we might walk a few streets as well!
Here’s to moving Lansing forward one step at a time!