It’s late February in Detroit; the sky is overcast and gray, snow blankets the ground and the temperature hovers around 30 degrees. The People For Palmer Park are hosting Winterfest at the park; we put on our heavy socks and long johns, bundle ourselves up in our coats, scarves, gloves and we’re ready ! You may not realize it, but Palmer Park has acres of lawns, woodlands, hiking and biking trails and Lake Frances; perfect for a winter playground. We arrive just as the festivities begin, a line has already formed for the horse and carriage rides. We make our way through the snow to the shoveled sidewalk that surrounds Lake Frances, at a table volunteers are handing out a list for the scavenger hunt, nearby, folks are signing up for the doggie fashion show to take place a little later. We pop in the warming tent, the heat feels great, musicians are setting up equipment, there’s a buzz in the air. The Green Zebra food truck is at the ready to provide food and beverages to attendees, mmmmmmm, smells delicious! We continue our walk around the lake, a portion of the ice surrounding the lighthouse has been cleared and is waiting for the skaters to arrive. Past the log cabin a large pile of snowshoes lay under a tent, volunteers invite us to give snowshoeing a try, why not? After we are safely buckled in to our over-sized footwear a guide offers to take us through the woods, she tells us there is a fire pit where we can warm ourselves. As we trek across the snow-covered trails I am struck by the beauty of the park, as we get deeper into the woods we are surrounded by the peaceful quiet that only comes from nature. I am no longer cold as the effort it takes to walk with snowshoes is far greater than boots alone. It is just the three of us, Kris, myself and our guide; as someone who has lived in the neighborhood for most of her life she tells us about the park and the changes she has seen through the years.
The smell of firewood permeates the air, in the distance we see the low flames from the fire pit. When we reach the fire we lean against makeshift benches, a row of long sticks rests on a log across from us, wait, is that a bag of marshmallows? Why yes it is! Being careful not to trip and actually fall into the fire, we make our way to the other side, push a jet-puffed marshmallow into the end of our stick and begin the age-old ritual of roasting marshmallows over an open fire, it doesn’t get much better than this! When they are a perfect golden brown we extract them from our stick, put them in our mouth and smile with pleasure that comes from such a simple act. Our fingers become tacky with leftover white bits; a small price to pay for such deliciousness. A group approaches the fire, the children spot the bag of marshmallows and immediately get to work. We leave the cozy fire and head back into the woods, taking a different trail back to the festivities. We return our snowshoes to the tent and thank our guide. The time has almost arrived for the fashion show to begin; the line of canines stretches far down the sidewalk. Dogs of every size and color are dressed for the occasion, from the simple fleece coat to full costume, we see a pirate, bumble bee and a super hero, some accessorize with scarves and sunglasses. The announcement is made and the parade begins; cameras click as both pet and owner pose, everybody is having a good time, including us!
It’s time for lunch, we drive down Woodward into downtown and stop at Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe; not only are we hungry, but I need a few things for home. The building is created in the Art Deco style; its tan-colored stone and black trimmed windows make it an attractive part of the streetscape. Seemingly modeled after the old-fashioned neighborhood markets, the shop carries a modest selection of groceries, fresh produce and household items. The main attraction is the fresh-cut meat, seafood and deli counter. Also featured are ready-made meals, soups, rotisserie meats, and a fantastic salad and olive bar. We choose a sandwich from the deli counter, employees are very friendly, we sample a few salads and settle on the pesto pasta salad, I scoop out chicken noodle soup from a large pot and we have ourselves a lunch. Another nice thing about the shop is the seating area along the Woodward facing windows, we have a seat enjoying both the food and the scenery. When we finish I grab my few items for home and we are off.
With so many new businesses opening in Detroit, it is fun to check them all out. We drive the few blocks over to 3rd Street where The Bottom Line Coffeehouse resides in the Beethoven Building. Through the black wrought iron gate and down a few steps the coffeehouse is located in the basement; exposed brick walls, counter seating and tables around the perimeter give the space a warm and welcoming feeling. Daily selections are posted on the chalkboard menu near the register; in addition to espresso and coffee drinks, they serve pastries from Traffic Jam & Snug, soups from Beautiful Soups and a variety of sandwiches and salads, all of it looks appetizing. I order a mocha and Kris an espresso to go, the barista informed me they used Calders chocolate milk for their mochas and hot chocolates……Yum! A splendid ending to our winter day.