ANN ABOUT TOWN: A Tale of Two Cities

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 8:24 am
By: 
Ann Nichols

Ann About Town, a first-person travelogue of local goings-on from writer and bon vivant Ann Nichols.If you have an idea about someplace she should go, please use our contact form.

Last Saturday was not just “a game day,” but THE game day for most people in East Lansing. It was a busting-at-the-seams, extroverted, rowdy kind of day with crowds roaming the streets, tailgates everywhere, and a constant wall of sound─sirens, drums, distant bass, screaming undergraduates, and the odd live band.

Walking around East Lansing, it was impossible to miss the energy, the atmosphere of a one day, pop-up Mardi Gras on the Red Cedar. None of it, from the noise to high-fiving strangers carrying red cups, is a surprise to anyone who lives near campus or attends home football games. It’s what happens on game days, it’s part of fall, and if you’re in the right mood (and a football fan) it’s a wonderful thing.

Even if one is not a football fan (just, you know, hypothetically) it takes a really bad attitude to hate the sunny face of a home game Saturday. The live band at the end of our street was really good, the students across the street had parents visiting and introduced us, and a band of people walked by the house selling cigars out of large wooden boxes.

Students appeared in everything from a skintight, Spartan green onesie to an outfit comprised of a tank top and what seemed to be a green and white striped beach towel. There are not many places outside of large cities where you can sit on your own front porch and see things like that while receiving offers of pulled pork barbecue, cigars and beer in a plastic cup.

Even good things, however, may eventually drive us crazy. There are “all day party people” and there are the rest of us. For the rest of us, there is a peaceful and beautiful place only five or ten minutes away – the Northern Tier Trail. With five entrances and 4.5 miles of trail, it is great for walking, biking, running or (again, hypothetically) escaping from game day craziness.

And really, there was as much to see and hear on the trails as there had been in town. Although it’s possible to hear a background whoosh of traffic, it’s pretty quiet if you leave the paved trail and walk into the deepest part of the woods (especially if you leave your headphones at home). Last Saturday, the loudest sound on the trail was the rustle of treetops in the wind, and the call of a bullfrog hiding somewhere in the marshy area.

The things to see in the woods were quieter, subtler and more introverted joys compared to those we left behind. Not better or worse, just different. There were spots of bright leaf on black soil, a cluster of ferns, and some sort of thistle with a crazy head of fluff. There were cattails, velvet stretches of moss, and all manner of fungi growing on trees living and fallen.

There were creatures, too, beginning with a bright orange butterfly who somehow managed to blend into green foliage, and a pair of ducks swimming companionably down the stream that crosses the trail at various points.

When it was nearly time to head home, a small herd of leggy, big-eyed deer appeared through the trees, a sort of magical seal on an hour of serenity and communion with nature.

The other City beckoned us, but in East Lansing we are, all of us, lucky enough to have both.

 

Top Photo Courtesy of Karen S. Brown

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