Lansing is different from many of our surrounding sister cities. In fact, Lansing has a characteristic that makes it completely superior to any other city in Michigan. Lansing is the capital city of our state. That makes it a destination for those with a cause, elected officials, those with an agenda, fundraisers, special events, farmers markets, city announcements, holiday events and an occasional music concert. Today it was the destination for “Storm the Capitol”, a group of protestors unhappy with Michigan’s new governor’s budget. Whether for or against this cause, I find great power in a group of like-minded regular folks coming together to support each other. It has strength. As one protestor’s sign read: “This is Democracy in Action”. And it’s true. In our country the people have a voice. They have a legal right to let their opinion be heard. Whether it’s burly, leather clad motorcyclists protesting a law requiring helmets, or tea party groups advancing on the Capitol grounds protesting the over extent of the government. This group was mostly made up of union folks. Some were protesting on behalf of Wisconsin’s union groups that are losing their collective bargaining rights. A few were from the private sector showing concern for the hard-working middle class. All in all, this group; gathered together in anger and frustration, displayed absolutely no anger. They cheered. They rallied. They smiled at each other. There was an elderly gentleman walking around with a shovel, making paths for people to walk on. I walked around this cheerful crowd listening to their conversations and asking to take some photos of their signs.
After awhile I left the front of the Capitol area and continued my walk on the surrounding streets. At one point I stopped at one of the many architectural finds to take some pictures. After I snapped the picture I heard something rustling below the window. Thinking it might be a rat I was pleasantly surprised to find a duck. This one however was stuck, unable to fly straight up. After contemplating what to do I decided my fear of birds would never let me crawl down there and pull him out. I was just about to leave and hope the duck would find food to survive when a couple that had just left the capitol lawn turned the corner and was walking my way. I explained the situation to them and without even thinking twice the gentleman of the couple climbed down the hole and grabbed the duck, stopping to let me take his photo and comment on how beautiful the duck was. He agilely climbed back out, confirmed the duck was safe and politely said goodbye. I guess it didn’t occur to me that mingled in the crowd was fire safety people, police officers and emergency workers; the very people who keep us safe and rescue us when we are in trouble. It was that duck’s lucky day for sure!
When I first started the idea of using sledding hills in Lansing to distinguish a winter walking path I thought it was a great idea. Then two things happened. First, I was hit with the flu, twice. Then the ground-hog saw his shadow and our 16 inches of snow covering disappeared down river. By that time I had only made it to 3 of the 4 sledding hills, Angel Hill, Gier Community Center and Quentin Park. Much to the dismay of many Lansing folks, I was not let down by this great city and we were blessed with a mini blizzard and nine great inches of sledding material. There was no reason now to not make a stop at Frandor Hill. The actual name of this park is George E. Ranney Park, named after a civil war surgeon who bequeathed his riches to the City of Lansing, stipulating this park would be a park forever. The park also includes a baseball field, tennis courts and an outside skating park. The sledding hill is located almost mid way in this block long park. This isn’t a glamorous sledding hill. It protrudes out of nowhere and butts up against a back alley drive and the back exits of multiple Frandor businesses. Of the four possible sides to sled down, two could lead to a possible trip to the ER. One of these sides faces the parking area on the back road. The base of the hill on this side is lined with hay bales, half buried tires and a few stolen shopping carts. One should also be wary of the yellow painted cement parking posts that separate the park from the drive. The other “sled at your own risk” side quickly extends into a row of trees separating the hill area from an apartment complex. There are more hay bales on this side too and an impromptu berm to stop over achievers. The south side of the hill has a gentle slope, however this is often interrupted by a perfectly placed protrusion of snow. Finally, the side (north) that most seem to use could cause a slight trepidation in the squeamish. The angle of this side is such that while positioned in a sled about to go over, the slope is actually not visible. An excited adventurer would not see what lie ahead until well into the fall. For many this type of hill is perfect. It seems that it could be the destination of an older crowd given remnants of consumables left in the snow. On the plus side however, the view from the top is amazing; on all four sides.
As a final note there is one more hill for sledding. It is at Hawk Island. I had planned to go out to this one too but heard that they closed it down to add a tubing hill for next year.
Today I went on a walk not because I wanted to but because I really needed to. Since yesterday’s Lansing State Journal article came out I have been answering emails, accepting friend requests, taking interviews, reading both positive and negative comments, and realizing that this whole project just got a lot more real. It’s not just my family and a few close friends anymore. It’s real people. On the analytics page for my website there is a visit from Russia! There were 3 from Brazil (all the same person) and a whole lot from Lansing! It’s really exciting to see all of this expansion and it’s still growing. I now have the mission of keeping it entertaining enough to deserve this following. Or maybe that’s too much pressure on me. Others became interested in this project because of what I had been doing. So maybe the best thing to do is to keep doing what I have been doing so far.
Today I went back to Old Town. I love Old Town. Growing up down the road from here I am often amazed at what it has become. I like the signs on the quaint store fronts. I like the people walking around. I like the piped music filling the air around the alley that has now become Tallulah’s Folly. There is also the ever inviting entryway of October moon. I like walking past Such Video and seeing them having a meeting, knowing they are planning something great.
On these walks I often find that the walking, observing and photographing of other people or other things really gets my mind off of the stresses of life. The exercising itself works wonders for my mood. If I also take into consideration the multiple waves from strangers I pass, stopping at Rizzi Designs to thank Rebecca Eldridge in person for her reference for the LSJ article and ending my walk with an Apple Cider Cinnamon popcorn from Cravings Gourmet Popcorn, this project might just be considered a somewhat selfish endeavor.
At some point during this project I expected to have some media attention. Over a year ago when I was formulating this initiative I thought interviews would take place in a nice earth toned office. I would be sipping my complimentary beverage while a reporter diligently took down every word I said. NOT!! I never even thought how the media might cover this project. I didn’t think it that far through. I thought media coverage would just happen. I didn’t think I would be out in the bitter cold, three layers thick, with winter gloves, boots and wool socks standing in a foot of snow posing for a photograph. I didn’t think I would be forcing another media person politely requested to take more photos of me in action, out into this cold, pre-blizzard weather. As we quickly ran across the slushy road to begin this outing I asked why they couldn’t have waited until spring, so I wasn’t all bundled up in huge coats. His reply was, “This shows how hard-core you are”. Why thank you for noticing Mr. LSJ photographer.
*He mentioned that this article might run in Sunday’s paper. When I hear for certain I will post on my Facebook and Twitter pages.
*Also photo used is a self-portrait and not one of the mentioned LSJ photographer’s. 🙂