A summer day, lost and found

By Charles Alexander

Parting Glances

Wednesday of last week is a flawless autumn day for biking. The sun is radiant. The temperature's 76. There isn't a trace of resistant wind to pedal against.

I once more unchain my 1982 Schwinn, red-and-white, second-hand-recovered, 10-speed bike for what I'm sure will be a last ride until spring 2013.

Although I can't run once around a city block, I'm in good shape to bike ten, fifteen, or twenty miles at a go. (In September I did the 30-mile Tour DeTroit. My butt was sore but I finished by doing an extra five miles to return home.)

My friend artist Jon Strand calls for a favor: please says he, sounding like a clogged drain pipe, pick up Alka Seltzer. "I haven't had a cold like this in some time." I agree, and visit a nearby drugstore as requested.

Jon meets me at his door with Archie, his black lab with one good-luck white toe, lets him out for a bit of doggie business, thanks me, says he's going back to bed. Be well, I encourage.

I bike to the River Walk two miles away. It's a familiar route that ends for me at the Coast Guard station, where I will sit and enjoy the gift of an exceptionally rare autumn day, a day that summer somehow forgot to include in June, but thankfully made up for in October.

The Detroit River is calm, serenely blue/green, with hardly a ripple of current, separating our city from Windsor across the way. The moment sparkles effortlessly. The view is memory sharp, flawlessly focused.

As I ride slowly I find fewer people fishing. There are no big boats at anchor, no pleasure craft cruising the slowly undulating river. No seagulls darting about. Not a fanciful cloud in the sky. All is seeming perfection (before an electoral storm?)

I pass Cobo Hall and am amazed at its ongoing architectural enhancements. I pass by what was once Ford Auditorium, seeing in its place a green grass park. In front of the GM building I hear no broadcast classical music playing, but find several couples basking in the sunshine.

Stopping at the concession stand I sit in the cooler shade. My name is unexpectedly called out. It takes me awhile to recognize James, whom I met five years ago. Once incredibly handsome, he has put on much weight. Turning his life around, he now works for the city. His assignment the River Walk. I wish him well.

Once at the Coast Guard station I kick stand my bike and sit content, fully aware the day's a bonus. In front of me a young mother with two young boys, and a baby in her arms, is sitting among the rocks. The boys are happily throwing stones into the river.

Soon one of the boys approaches me. "I'm four. My name is Justin Thomas Allen. What time is it, mister?" I answer two-thirty. He calls out to his mom. He smiles joyfully, carefree, and hands me a little yellow flower. The perfect touch for an autumn day in the late autumn of my life.


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