Saturday, May 12, 2012

Not Date Material

Today's primer: How to take a first-timer to Belle Isle.

Make sure you've got the requisite three bucks in your pocket.

Arrive early enough to experience mid-day on the suspension bridge, all light breezes and sparkling water. All potential.

On the banks of the island, see a group of kayakers getting an introduction to what their day holds, their boats like crayons against the shore.

Don't provide a prologue. Allow the newbie to experience things without your input.

Welcome any unsolicited conversation that comes your way.

Today, it was a grizzled old guy with food stains in his beard, a guitar slung over his shoulder and a promise to show us the old hobos' camp with its burnt-out fire ring...and play for us.

Stop everywhere you can: to face Hollywood cemetery, at the quarry, at the power plant and at the crumbling facade of the nail factory.

Look for sunfish and yellow-bellied cooters in the quarry pond.

Enjoy the parade of humankind, all presumably on Belle Isle for some exercise, fun in the sun or mountain bike riding.

Note the girls in their black sundresses and cute shoes traipsing the branch-strewn walkway.

Hear the girl in the long groovy '70s-era dress complaining to her companion because he had the nerve to bring her to Belle Isle on a date.

Watch the AC/DC-hatted father on the rocks ignore his children frolicking in the rushing rapids as he texts. Luckily for him, neither went under.

Cringe as you watch people in flip-flops and espadrilles try to climb rocks or hop from one to another. Look away when they fall, skid or land badly and bleed.

Take every path you find, regardless of where it might lead or who just came up it looking guilty.

Inhale the blooming honeysuckle at every step because, well, because honeysuckle doesn't bloom forever and right now it's like perfume in the air.

Cross the bridge of splinters to the southside just so you can  say you did and then walk back.

Take some time to sit on an overlook bench; whether it's with a view of the pond or the river, it's up to you.

With either one, you'll hear the rushing of the rapids and with your backs to the world, you'll feel like you're the only people on the island.

Once you've circumnavigated the island at least once and preferably twice (opposite directions preferred), head back across the suspension bridge, reading the graffiti advising what a bad idea drugs are.

Once safely back on the mainland, head directly off the bridge access ramp to the Blue Bird ice cream cart.

That three bucks you brought (per instructions) will get you both a chocolate eclair and a strawberry shortcake.

The ice cream will last until you get to the parking lot where somebody arriving much later in the day will patiently wait for you to back out so their car can replace yours.

Well done. You have now made someone's first trip to Belle Isle truly memorable.

Bonus points for cooter sightings.


  1. This is exquisite. Your passion for living is infectious, thank you for sharing everyday.

  2. What a great compliment! Thanks for reading, Richard!

  3. Good to have a Summer's Coming roll call. Thanks for the reminder as always, Karen!

  4. It's what I do, right, Cynthia?