Oak Ridge Prairie – Griffith, Indiana: Wet Dog

Rain drops tapped on my door, mockingly inviting me to come out and play. Peering outside the window, I watched helplessly as my Labor Day weekend was washed away by the remnants of Hurricane Isaac.

Angry that I was probably not going to be able to do anything outside this holiday, I accidentally let a four-letter word slip within the earshot of my border collie…“walk”.

Her ears instantly perked up and eyes bulged with enthusiasm. Not letting me get away with breaking my unintentional verbal contract, she whimpered and spun around, demanding I honor the agreement.

Convinced that she would change her mind after one minute in the soaking rain, I threw on my coat and consented to her impulsive request.

After walking… uh, make that swimming, three blocks in the downpour, I wondered if my border collie was really this desperate to escape the house or deliberately sticking it to me.

When we arrived back at home and dried off, I couldn’t help but feel a little tickled by our odd and wet expedition. Inspired by my border collie’s fearless and adventurous spirit, I decided that if she wasn’t going to let the rain ruin her day, neither was I!

Biking out into the puddle-ridden streets, I pedaled over to Colfax Street and down to one of Griffith’s most precious gems, Oak Ridge Prairie.

Entering the park (free of charge on bike), I sailed through the meadows of goldenrod and leafy, green grass glistening like royal jewels as they were anointed by the soft touch of the rain. The wildlife remained concealed in the protective shelter of the woods, although their voices could still be heard resonating through the fields.

At the end of the road leading to the park’s main area, I was faced with an old childhood friend, the Oak Ridge Prairie sledding hill. Though not christened with its majestic coat of white, this magnificent monument still stood proudly even as it sweat pools of muddy globs.

Temporarily reflecting on fond memories of sliding down the slopes and idiotic attempts of “snowboarding” with my sled, I shook my head and continued forward on the slippery path, still that eight year old boy who never learns.

Following the trail under the natural umbrella of the forest preserve, I carefully navigated my way down the trail smeared with dead leaves, cracked acorns and hazardously placed moss. Needless to say, I do not recommend advancing through this portion of the trail in the middle of a downpour unless you feel confident in both your balance and the strength of your helmet.

The water, still relentlessly seeking me out, streamed down the spouts of the trees’ leaves, drenching me twofold compared to riding out in the open.

Upon reaching the end of the wooded path, I smiled, relieved, as the last of the rain clouds dispersed. Walking my bike into a U-turn on the slick surface of the trail, I took a deep breath of the moist air and prepared myself for a cautious journey back through the park.

I don’t know what my border collie was thinking…

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