Sunday, February 08, 2009

Finally, beautiful weather

This weekend we finally have gotten a break from the miserably cold, gray winter weather that we have been having. Yesterday and today it was at least 42 degrees Fahrenheit (around 6 Celsius) and sunny, finally allowing us to go outside and do some walking. We decided to go to the park in Midland where there's a funny bridge called the Tridge and a couple of rivers that come together, as well as the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, an old railroad track that has been removed and converted into a bike and pedestrian path. The Rail Trail goes along the Titabawassee River for a while, which made us reminisce of walking along the Elbe Radweg with one big difference: on such a beautiful winter day in Dresden, you'd hardly be able to move on the path it would be so full of people. Yesterday, a large percentage of the people we saw in the park were Germans. We identified them based on the sensible winter clothing the children had on (especially the Kenny hats) and their fashionable shoes. When we got closer, we confirmed their nationality by hearing them speak actual German. Today we didn't spot any Germans, but didn't spot many other people out enjoying the beautiful weather, either. Why not? People do appreciate the nice weather, lots of people are talking about how beautiful it is outside, but very few are actually taking advantage of it. It's not only this way in the winter either, it was like that in the summer here as well. Pedestrian areas seem spooky, like ghost towns, there are shops, but no customers in sight. It seems like a lot of people here only really partake in outdoor activities (winter or summer) as a reason to drink lots of alcohol. Plenty of people go boating or canoeing or camping or fishing or paddling here, at least they call it that, but it has less to do with getting exercise or seeing the landscape than it has to do with sitting around and drinking lots. Maybe more people would go outside in the winter in Michigan if mulled wine were being sold along the Rail Trail. But I do recall being so happy going to Germany and just seeing people outside walking, because that is something you just don't see here. So this difference isn't new, I guess I must have just forgotten about it. If you are walking here, either you have a dog who forces you outside or your car is broken down or you're too poor to have a car. People just don't walk or move for fun or as a mode of transport here.

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