Denial can be a beautiful thing when it comes to the idea of spring in Ann Arbor. While there is a solid chance snow might fall in the next couple of days, it has technically been spring since March 20, and there are many ways to celebrate the new season right here in Ann Arbor.
“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day”— The Temptations
Though mittens may be a requirement, going for a hike or a canoe excursion is a great way to defy the remnants of winter. Nichols Arboretum, located right next to the University campus, boasts 123 acres of forest filled with trails and with some luck, a few early flowers. Make sure to take some friends and some Frisbees for a rousing round of folfing (Frisbee golfing). Another unique park is Gallup Park, located on Fuller Road. As LSA sophomore Mike Liang said, “I love Ann Arbor parks. Where I grew up, suburbia had completely taken over any remaining forests.”
Indeed, instead of just offering the typical mowed lawn and preschoolers playing on a swing set, Gallup Park has scenic trails that wind next to the Huron River for a date or just an escape from the immediate campus area.
For hardcore hikers, the Waterloo-Pinckney Trail or the Waterloo Recreation Area might satisfy a lust for the great outdoors. Although the Waterloo Recreation Area is in Chelsea, which is located about 15 miles from Ann Arbor, it is the largest state park in the Lower Peninsula and is worth the drive. Visitors can hike or mountainbike on any of these trails and pretend to get away from civilization.
Another fun resource at the University is the canoe rental available through the Outdoor Adventure Club. Eager adventurers can rent canoes for $15 and up, and they can be used at Gallup Park (since the park encompasses several miles of the Huron River) or at area metroparks.
Music freshman Jessie Harvey has gone canoeing on the river numerous times.
“(The Huron River) is such a peaceful setting. Houses alternate with parks along the bank of the river and provide a lot to look at,” Harvey said. She added that the river isn’t too highly traveled, making the canoer feel alone in nature.
Just because it’s almost spring doesn’t mean necessarily saying goodbye to winter sports like sledding. Consider instead going ice blocking, which is essentially the summer form of sledding. Buy a block of ice from a grocery store, take a towel and go find a hill that is mostly free from obstructions. Take the towel, put it on the block of ice, sit down, and push off, and watch out for trees. Be warned though, friction melts the ice and makes ice blocking much faster then sledding (which might be an advantage).
And if all this exercise creates a fierce appetite for fresh food, wander over to the well established Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. The market is located at 315 Detroit St. in the Kerrytown area, and it is open throughout the year on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to the Ann Arbor city website, the market features fresh local produce, baked goods, homemade apparel and home decorations, all sold in an open-air atmosphere.
More importantly, it is a chance to explore Kerrytown and soak in the atmosphere of Ann Arbor’s non-college population.
“Dorms unload — we’re heading out” — Dashboard Confessional
For those who would rather experience nature from a comfy auditorium seat, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, hosted by the Outdoor Adventure Club, provides a great break on April 3 and 4.
According to Mike Liang, the festival, which will take place at Rackham Auditorium, features about six hours of acclaimed adventure, outdoor, adrenaline, environmental, and cultural films according to Liang. He noted that the festival is a very popular event, and tickets go fast. Tickets are $10 and available at Bivouac or the Outdoor Adventure Center.
Spring is also a great time to explore downtown Ann Arbor art galleries. In particular, the Art school gallery will soon feature graduating seniors’ art work in the Work gallery on State Street.
The gallery was established in November of 2002, according to its director, Greg Steele, in order for art to have a presence on campus. Starting on April 1, they will have a very imposing presence indeed, as 200 to 400 pieces of art (one piece from each senior) will be featured in the gallery. The pieces are in many mediums such as paint, sculptures, glass, paper and video. The work is extremely diverse, with classical styles mixed with modern art and everything in between. “If you want to see it, it’s here,” Steele said.
In a similar vein, consider checking out the numerous concerts of graduating seniors and masters students at the music school. In order to graduate, the students must put on public concerts and they often work on the repertoire all year to create a polished product. The concerts are held nearly every weekend evening from now until the end of school, and offer a great opportunity for a free evening of jazz or classical music entertainment.
“It’s a free date, and there’s usually food,” said Music freshman Emily Shipman, who plans to attend several recitals in the next couple weeks.
“I think it’s fun to support fellow students when they accomplish things, and it’s interesting to see how differently they interpret pieces,” she added.
However, it is certainly not necessary to know the pieces in order to attend the concerts, and the concerts offer an intimate setting to enjoy a wide range of repertoire. For a schedule of upcoming concerts, check out www.music.umich.edu/events.
This is only a microcosm of what Ann Arbor has to offer in the spring time. So instead of thinking of spring as the time to go see an allergist, take a chance and go check out many of the activities that occur once the snow finally disappears.