Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Mysterious Case of the Red Shoe

Dear George,
I had a pretty weird weekend last week.  It started on Saturday when I noticed they’d put up new signs on all the trails in Burnet Woods.  The signs read: “Warning – Trees Along Trails May Be Hazardous.”  That seemed so bizarre.  What exactly do they think the trees are going to do to us?  They could just as well say: “Warning -- Watch out for butterflies and cobwebs.”  Maybe some one-time event prompted this over-reaction by the authorities, but I worry that it will only intimidate nervous, tree-phobic hikers from using the park trails at all. 

The next day my friend Royce and I took the sheepdogs to Eden Park for a hike.  The officials hadn’t yet gotten around to posting warnings at Eden Park yet.  We were walking through the magnolia grove, venting our respective feelings about the House Republicans.  Deep in thought, I was looking downwards when – smack! – my head banged against a low-hanging branch of a magnolia tree.  The force of the collision was enough to knock me off my feet.  Lying prone on my back, I felt my forehead.  It was bruised and sore, but I decided I hadn’t broken anything.  As I got back up to my feet, I remembered the warning signs at Burnet Woods.  Maybe those signs aren’t so bad after all, I thought to myself.  Usually people don’t walk headfirst into trees, but it’s not a bad idea to remind us every once in a while. 

As it turned out, my encounter with the hazardous magnolia tree wasn’t the only mysterious thing on the trip.  We stopped at the Eden Park Overlook to take in its splendid panoramic view of the Ohio River.  Looking down the hill, Royce spotted some sort of blue and white object in the bushes about thirty feet below us.  Out of curiosity, I climbed over the wall and carefully made my way down through the brush to retrieve whatever it was.  Though worried about falling off the cliff’s edge, I got there and back in one piece.

It turned out that what we’d thought was an item of clothing was a man’s size 12 Nike sneaker.  There was no obvious wear on the sole, and the shoe looked virtually brand new.  A fancy pair of Nike shoes like that must have cost at least a hundred dollars.  Who in the world would throw their new Nike shoe off the Overlook?  We looked to see if there was a second shoe, but the hillside was too overgrown to spot anything else.  The shoe’s presence there was completely inexplicable.  Was this a product of drunken revelry?  Insanity?  Or some sort of foul play? 

We continued on our hike, passing by the Krohn Conservatory and heading up the Hinkle Floral Trail toward Mirror Lake.  About halfway along the floral trail there was some debris on the hillside and a bright red object right in the middle.  It was a woman’s high heel shoe – velvety, with a pointed toe and an extra long four-inch heel.  A glamorous party girl’s shoe – probably worth two or three hundred dollars.  What in the world was going on in Eden Park?  Having watched Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple on many episodes of Masterpiece Mystery, I knew that finding two expensive shoes strewn about in the same locale was not a random event.  These were obviously clues to some nefarious happening.  Had there been a serial murder?  Or perhaps an outraged woman had shoved her husband off the Overlook, then raced from the scene and lost her red shoe?  The very thought of the possibilities sent chills up my spine.  I suggested to Royce that we search in the shrubbery for a corpse, but she thought my bump on the head was affecting my judgment.  I left the shoes where they were, hoping the park detectives might happen upon them and conduct an investigation.  

Parks, it turns out, are scarier than we normally think.  Trees can definitely be hazardous, but even worse things can be perpetrated by people in sneakers or red shoes lurking amongst the trees.  I personally think the officials should revise their signs to say, “Warning: Trees Along Trails May Be Hazardous – Also Shoes and Dead Bodies.” 

G-Mail Comments
-Ann B (10-1): Yes trees are dangerous. John's daughter, husband and kids were driving down the road at 45 miles up by their campsite in Munising when a dead tree fell in top of the truck, smashing the hood, windshield , side mirror and panel. Luckily no one was hurt! So when I read your story today it made me realize that they are warning that due to weather elements trees do weird things. Have you hear about the Frigo bridge in Green Bay. Check out that story it is another weird one!
-Donna D (9-29): this is s0 funny.  so i'm royce now?

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