Monday, October 18, 2010

Seven Bridges Trail at Grant Park: short and sweet – until…

I had the morning off Friday so I decided to seek one of my favorite urban wilderness experiences. I don’t often get to Grant Park, which is in South Milwaukee. The seven bridges trail, with its fabled chalet style bridge, was even more delightful than I remembered. It’s just off the first parking lot into the park from the north side and an easy walk downhill through the ravine to the shore of Lake Michigan. The colors were spectacular and the weather unbelievable – how many days in a row now?!!

And at the end of the trail comes the best part – the beach. Here is the place where, more than any other I know of in Milwaukee County, you can go and not only see no sign of the city (I’ve written many times of the many places where I go for that experience) but also not even hear any sound of civilization. A welcome antidote to traffic and everyday busyness.

I dawdled in the warm sunshine. I listened to the surf – crashing, uncommonly ocean-like. I shot some pictures. I took my time getting back to the car through the peaceful wood atop the bluff. When I reached the covered entry bridge once again, my idyll was rudely disrupted by a very uncivil form of civilization.

Two short, heavy-set middle-aged women walking three small poodly dogs on short leashes went across the bridge ahead of me. I stopped to make a final shot (above). Suddenly I heard the dogs begin to yap excitedly; then one of the women screamed at someone I couldn’t see, “put your f – ing dogs on a leash!” A man replied, bellowing equally loudly, “don’t you f – ing tell me what to do with my dogs.” He then bellowed at his dogs, “get back here!” Being unleashed, they were running wildly about. “Keep your f – ing dogs away from ours!” the women shouted – and they had some lungs on them. Then the man’s rejoinder: “Shut the f – up!” The ravine echoed with their epithets.

A large black Labrador bounded across the bridge towards me, followed closely and eagerly by an even larger brown hound. The man appeared, bellowing alternately at the dogs and the women, who were still descending audibly into the ravine. He also was heavy-set, though younger. He wore loose sweat pants, a Packer sweat shirt, and a baseball cap. When he came abreast of me I said softly, “it’s a beautiful day; try to chill a bit.” He calmed immediately and growled sheepishly, “I’m trying.”

I would’ve told him that he should leash his dogs, but I didn’t want him bellowing at me.

On my way back I noticed this tree in the middle of a lawn at the St. Francis Seminary. Sometimes I feel like a lone and twisted tree losing its leaves in a tidily mowed lawn.

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