There’s times when seeking out a place of refuge is necessary. One might think that within the Lansing city limits this escape would be impossible. However, despite the many hustle and bustle areas throughout Lansing there are a multitude of locations that provide this perfect peace. Today I cut across Lansing using the expressway to expedite my travels. At the MLK Blvd. exit I am forced to dramatically reduce my speed and participate in the game of follow the leader with other southbound travelers. Having lived in this area for 8 years this area is very familiar to me. However the gaping emptiness of the torn down Oldsmobile plant now produces a bit of a shock; like seeing a man who normally wears facial hair right after a shave. The thought is quickly replaced by the pleasant view of the Grand River that floats gently below the bridge on this route. Turning right onto Moorse River Dr. quickly calms my mood as the road itself lends to a slowing down, relaxed feeling. Centerpieces of ornamental plants have been built into every block, forcing drivers to slow down and ease into the neighborhood. A few blocks in there is a traffic circle that diverts drivers into the really glamorous part of this neighborhood, much like the glass, circular doors found at the front of fancy a building. The final set of speed deterrents are the 15mph speed bumps that create the feel of riding soft waves on a lake. A few more blocks and we find the entrance to our peace; Frances Park. This park has always been one of my favorites. It is a perfect location of any park in the Lansing area; especially with the addition of the walking and parking trail to the north of Moorse River Dr. We easily park (as of right now it is one of the few Lansing area parks that doesn’t charge yet for parking) at the playground and the twins quickly escape the back seat even without me pulling the seat forward. I grab the lunch foods; sliced turkey, buns, nectarines and carrots that I just purchased at Meijer. I find an empty picnic table and smile at the other mothers sitting a few tables over. Even the weather understands my need for peace and has created the perfect atmosphere for relaxing. The gentle, cool breeze and lack of sunshine is a nice change from the extremely hot and sunny weather we’ve had here in Lansing this whole month of July. From my seat I can see the river and it only adds to the serenity.
After letting the kids play a while and completing our lunch we walk over to the rose garden. Before entering the garden area we pass by the pavilion which is actually a 3 season room. I remember using this room for a high school band picnic many years ago. I think that was the last time I was in this area. It is the perfect place for any type of outdoor picnic or even a wedding. This rose garden is very similar to that of Cooley Gardens yet it has its own majestic feel. It too creates an isolation that can cause the imagination to create a multitude of escape destinations; castle gardens, Italian Villa, French cottage. If I had the time I think I could meander through every path, smelling every flower type (over 155) and inspecting all species of plants. There are grass walkways and mulched trails. There are bricked walls and wrought iron fences. Up a set of stairs you find yourself beneath a vine encased pergola adding a new layer of sophistication. Stepping out from this protective covering and moving west quickly reveals the height and beauty of this park’s location.
Lansing is often thought of a rough, coarse, salt of the earth, car building tough city. But it also has a strong gardening, architecture, design, agriculture, philanthropic history that needs to be shared and enjoyed just as much. One might fill the pocket-book, but the other fills the heart.
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