As I wrote in a previous entry, countless neighborhoods in Detroit have turned into fields, with many blocks having no or a few remaining homes. In riding through these once viable neighborhoods over the past month or so, I’ve seen numerous vacant lots that have not been mowed, and they now look like tall-grass prairies. I’ve also watched people as they walk on sidewalks that have basically become paths through pastures of overgrown grass that, in some cases, was at least four feet tall, taller than their waist. At some intersections, I could only see the tops of cars as they passed by.
While bicycling up and down these streets, I’ve also come across vacant homes that are now completely surrounded and covered in overgrown grass, bushes and trees. On some streets, blooming rose bushes have gone wild and have crept up telephone poles, across old fences and up the sides of long abandoned homes. I’ve also heard pheasants calling out from the surrounding brush in their unique “scratchy” tone. In a weird kind of way, it is a beautiful, relaxing environment.
The other day I was cycling through one of the many eastside neighborhoods of fields when I came across tractors moving slowly down the narrow streets with mowers attached. The scene reminded me of a small Nebraska town or a rural section of Michigan’s thumb area where tractors are a common sight. I’m sure they’re not commonly found a few blocks off Gratiot Avenue, a major, heavily traveled road through Detroit.
I decided to pedal up to where they were working, to see first hand what their mission was. It appeared they had targeted a few blocks in the neighborhood for mowing. Not only were they cutting the big open, vacant lots, but they were also attacking the smaller lots between the few homes that were found on the streets. In watching them, I was impressed with how the drivers, bandana’s covering their nose and mouth to keep the dust out, handled the tractors and attached mowers. They squeezed them between homes, followed each other a little off-center for cutting large swaths of land and carefully wound their way around telephone poles, fire hydrants, street signs, parked cars and across curbs.
These guys were good. I could tell by the hand waves and thumbs-up they gave me, that they were proud of their work. They should be; it’s a daunting task they’re up against.
2nd Annual Colin Hubbell Bike Ride – Saturday, June 19th
Seeding Growth and Opportunity in Detroit – The 2nd Annual Colin Hubbell Bike Ride will be held Saturday, June 19 to support the Colin Hubbell Fund. The 12.5 mile ride will start and end at the Traffic Jam & Snug restaurant in Detroit near Wayne State University. The tour will wind its way through Detroit’s Midtown, Woodbridge, and Corktown neighborhoods as well as Downtown Detroit. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the ride starting at 10 a.m. Registration fees – Advance – $20 adults, $15 youth. Day of – $25 adults, $20 youth.
Register here: http://colinhubbellbikeride.eventbrite.com/
For more information on the Colin Hubbell Fund, visit www.detroitmidtown.com