Skip to content

The Fred Meijer Heartland Trail

Thu, 1 Jul 2021, 07:11 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

1. Waiting for Wildlife

Northeast out of Greenville on the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail. It’s a flat, dedicated trail with only one stretch along Peck where you have to share the road from narrow bike lanes painted on either side. The vehicles go by fast, but they go by only once in a while and leave plenty of room. (At least they did today.)

Not long after the route becomes a true “trail” again, there’s a bridge over a small creek. It seemed a good place to view the land. The water was brownish-clear, just like the Flat River into which it eventually flows if you follow maps south to near Belding. 

So I leaned against the rail and watched the water run, waiting for something to happen down there. A snake. Or a turtle. Or a fish, perhaps. Waiting for some kind of wildlife event.

A water bug skates across the smooth surface of the water, leaving a tiny V-shaped wake behind. Ok, I guess that’s it. Then snap! a bird swoops out from under the bridge and snaps and misses and snaps again, grabbing the unsuspecting bug.  It swoops back under the bridge and out other side into the woods. Circle of life.

I put my feet on the petals and resume riding.

2. Lunchtime

There was an octagonal table in the shade of some Maple trees on the other side of Derby Road. It had been about an hour, and it was time for a little something. So I pulled a ham sandwich out of my pack and a can of fizzy water. I devoured them.

There were Aspens with quaking leaves mixed in with the Maples. The air in the shade was cool. There was a garbage can with a new trash bag liner beside the table and a portapotty on the other side of the trail. 

A guy on a recumbent tricycle came from the other direction. He stopped for a break in the portapotty and smiled when he saw me.

“How far did you go?” I asked.

In halting words, he said he had ridden from Greenville to Alma. My eyes widened. (That’s the full 42 mile trail.)

“Wow,” I said. “That’s a long ride.”

His eyes widened and he puffed up his cheeks and blew air out his mouth as if to say that he was bushed. But he didn’t say anything.

“Right,” I said. As he began to turn back to the trail, I said, “You want a protein bar?”

He shook his head and then strained to push a couple more words out. “Burger,” he said. “Burger. King.” It took quite a bit of effort for him to get those words out, and even then, they were a bit garbled. But the point he was making was obvious — he had devoured his lunch, too. We both laughed.

He turned to the trail again, but then he stopped and looked back. 

“Baandt pottock,” 

I cocked my head. “What?”

He squinted and pushed the two words out again. “Bland pottik.” 

I still didn’t understand.

He shook his head and pushed a different word out. “Stroke,” he said, pointing to himself. 

“That’s ok,” I said. “But what were you saying?” I walked a little closer.

“Baandt. Bland. Blandt. Plant,” he said.

“Plant product!” I said laughing. “You had a veggie burger?”

He laughed and nodded.

“I had a ham sandwich,” I said.

He smiled, nodded and waved as he drove back towards Greenville.

“Have a good ride back,” I said.

He pushed out words of thanks and was gone.

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License