While sipping my morning coffee and listening to National Public Radio, I wondered how many times I had heard some smarmy-voiced radio nonentity mouth platitudes about the end of the summer, Labor Day weekend, the cost of gas and barbaric children, in sum, how much trouble, time and expense people are going to in order to enjoy one of our lives’ crumbs of free time. With all that in mind, I celebrated the unofficial opening of autumn with a bike trip to the beach on the Flint River Trail. Located about 2 miles north of Carpenter Road, Bluebell Beach is a precious oasis in the Mott Park Recreation Area. No gas, no traffic issues and free admission together sounded like a great deal to me, so I acted on it. As one can see from the picture, the trail is easily spotted from Carpenter Road. Along the trail it is a little tricky, but where the path branches, follow the yellow post.
Late August has always been a time when a kid takes stock of summer and measures it against all the pleasures that one failed to get into the months of freedom. This was usually due to such mundane matters as summer book lists, parents expecting you to do some chores and all the rest of the trivialities not conducive to having fun. A child’s world is much defined by fun.
There is a certain pungent undertone to the odors that anticipate autumn, a sense that the leafy incarnation has passed its zenith and is headed, not to the west, but toward the ground. It is already mulching for the winter. We see that sensation as we observe these first dead soldiers.
The path to the beach is smooth and offers some upgrades and downgrades but nothing particularly challenging. Meanwhile there is the matter of the beauty of the path itself and all its gorgeous wildflowers in full swing.
As we get closer to the entrance, we get a foretaste of the clientele that this park is really for: kids. That’s right, all the kids who had their final shot at ignoring the summer reading that they would have to catch up on during the first week of school.
Bluebell Beach features a splash pad for the kids that uses fresh water, courtesy of the Mott Foundation, as well as pavilions available for rental and these lovely shade kites.
As I leave, I am stopped dead in my tracks by a field near the path. It is so lush and full of the vibrant colors and pungent aromas of collective life that, as I breathe it in, I lose any sense that this is the end of summer. It seems more like planting the seeds of spring.
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