As the summer travel season winds down and families prepare for the return to school and the hectic pace of studying, carpooling, lessons, tutoring, community service, playdates and the other fun, but busy commitments we are all engaged in, this weekend has been one last weekend to slow down and savor.
Because of the impending busyness we decided to stay home this Labor Day weekend and not travel. I am glad we did, because we had a wonderfully pleasant weekend and the weather featured some of the most agreeable days of the last three months.
We had a wonderful late summer evening stroll at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills, Michigan. This 200+ acre nature preserve on Farmington Road between Ten and Eleven Mile is a gem in the near northwest suburbs of Detroit. We strolled along a few of the over 4 mile, well-marked trails. The sun was low in the sky, dripping sunlight through the maple and beech trees, casting a moody glow reminding us that the bright long days of summer are waning. We saw at least 5 deer, perhaps more-we weren't sure if we counted the same couple of deers twice, including one young buck!
We also had a great walk with our dog Bailey in Livonia's Rotary Park off of Six Mile Road near Merriman. He loves the smells of the woodland creatures and meeting new friends along the two miles of trails! A big thank you to Livonia and Farmington Hills for maintaining the parks at such a high quality and generously welcoming even non-residents to share in these family-friendly treasures.
On Friday we went to the Arts, Beats and Eats event in downtown Royal Oak, Michigan for the first time! I know, we may have been the last people in metro-Detroit area who had never been to the event, but we are usually away Labor Day weekend, so that is my excuse. I am glad we went in the afternoon, because the main food areas were already quite crowded. We managed to find parking in a city lot near Eleven Mile and it was 15 bucks. Knowing that it went to a good cause- the police and firefighters and other city services of Royal Oak, I didn't mind paying the money. In general, I would have felt the fee a bit high. We had a great sampling of food from sweet potato pie to thai noodles, a slice of pizza, corn on the cob with herbs, two veggie spring rolls and an apple empanada all for $20 worth of tickets. Apparently, some folks don't like the ticket system, but in my opinion it is the fastest way to keep the lines short. I think if you go with the attitude that the tickets are for the whole fun people watching experience with great free live music as part of the cost and not necessarily considering the value of the "meal" alone you won't really be disappointed.
On Saturday we saw the wonderful photography exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts- The Open Road:Photography and the American Road Trip. There is only a week left, so if you have the time to get down to see it, I would highly recommend it. Exposing your older children to the work of Robert Frank who so powerfully captures an honest, unsentimental-yet poignant aspect of the American character is worth it, especially if you reside in the tri-county area and are able to get in free!
We were even able to sneak in a wonderful family dinner party- delicious hummus pizza, fruit salad, birthday cake and cookies, ice tea sipped in the shade- talking about garage sales, Tiger games, trips "Up North" and plans for the Autumn. The simple things are often the best aren't they?
There are so many wonderful things left to see and do these last hours of this holiday weekend, but for sure being grateful for the luxury to spend time with family, friends (and mowing the lawn) will be high on my list!
Be safe on the roads- there are plenty of travel adventures ahead!
Family Questions for Discussion
1. What is your family tradition for Labor Day Weekend?
2. What is the history of Labor Day?
3. What have been some of your favorite festivals of the summer?
4. What is on your Labor Day Weekend "bucket list." The bridge walk?
5. What is the perfect Labor Day picnic meal?