Detroit neighborhoods can be a relaxing and calm environment. There are plenty of streets with vacant lots that have reverted to fields of tall grass, much like prairies found in the open country. The inner city green spaces that have replaced once vibrant communities offer a pleasant, serene natural world setting as compared to the area’s rough, urban surroundings.
There are plenty of people still living in many of the thinly populated areas of the city. A few have adopted sections of the overgrown, green spaces in their immediate area and turned them into an unofficial gathering place. They appear to be comfortable places, with some spaces carved out in a shadow of a tall Maple tree. On warm days in a few of the areas, barbecue smoke fills the air. Sometimes unknown beverage bottles, wrapped in brown paper bags, are passed among friends as they talk, laugh and maybe take part in a tense game of chess. I’ve even witnessed a game or two of horseshoes while riding past the makeshift parks, and have heard the steel shoes clang against a metal spike after a carefully, calculated toss.
As expected, a variety of lawn furniture can be found in these little islands of serenity where time seems to slow down. Much of the furniture I see isn’t the typical white, plastic molded table with matching chairs. It’s also not the usual lightweight, fold-down aluminum chairs found at a discount department store or local hardware. The furniture I normally see while pedaling by these little neighborhood-gathering places is rather unusual.
The outdoor furniture I spot is constructed from a variety of materials such as scrap wood, blue milk crates, plastic pails, discarded tires and other salvaged items such as logs. I’ve also come across abandoned wheel chairs, over-stuffed leather chairs, sofas and other cast offs that may have been plucked from a trash heap somewhere close by. Despite the rough physical appearance, the cobbled together furniture appears to be quite functional and works well for those gathered in Detroit’s little pockets of tranquility.