Signs of Spring in Detroit



After what seemed an interminably long and cold winter, signs of spring are popping up everywhere in Detroit. Here's a few of 'em:

1: The GM plaza and promenade along the river in front of the RenCen is now complete with the planting of trees throughout. While it has been open for a few months, it's likely given the weather, few people have ventured down there. It also would seem another stretch of the Detroit Riverwalk is ready to be opened as soon as the fencing is removed. (Though a certain group of intrepid downtown runners (who shall go nameless) made their way onto this patch of land despite said barriers.) (For more on the riverfront project, click here.) (For a past story, click here.)

2: The ice, which covered the river for the last several months, has finally left. In its last days, the chunks of ice were a moving walkway, pushing, jostling each other, jockeying for position on their journey down the river. At the edge, pieces remain trapped, stuck, as their brethren flowed quickly nearer the center of the river - left behind until a break in the flow when they can rejoin the pack in one last dance before melting in the springtime sun.

3: The downtown runners celebrated their 22nd anniversary with the biggest crowd in recent memory (and not just at the bar but for the run!) Plenty of new faces were on hand as the group celebrated with a run along that same river front area. (For more info, go to

4: The Tigers won their opening day game and what a beautiful day that was! (For a look at opening day past from our contributors, please click here.)

5: Belle Isle sees the return of kids and kites. The fountain still awaits the turn of a valve somewhere to return water to its hungry water-spitting mouths.

In the shadow of the RenCen's redevelopment, it's not hard to find what this spring for Detroit has left behind. These buildings and empty lots wait for the thaw to stretch its tendrils just a little bit further and breathe life into the abandoned once more. A sign on an abandoned apartment building reads, "If you lived here, you'd be home by now." Soon perhaps, someone will call this structure home once again.

In honor of springtime, my mom shared with me a poem by Millen Brand (excerpted):


"What is everything really but brown?
The earth, the wood that grows up
darkened by rain or pearled over with moon -
all is sealed into the one background,

Through snow, the brown lasts
until, under it, green,
sleeping in the quilts of the beech
and in the minute knots of the crepe myrtle,
thousand-pointed at every shadow,
suddenly cracks outward
and cries spring!

While all these signs of spring are exciting, let's not forget where we live, and how quickly such things can change. In the words of Minnesotan royalty "Sometimes it snows in April."

See you outdoors!

- Nick Sousanis

© 2002