We had a fine weekend, in spite of the miserable weather. We went “up North” on Friday night, arriving at M-in-L’s home about 9:30. She was waiting up, good thing it didn’t take any longer. If you really care, this is one some people think about the geography around here. ( if you read that notice the summer destinations section, Cadillac, mentioned there, is our old home.)
We noticed when we arrived in suburbia that most children think of up North as some static place. For them it is a destination, that same cottage, or motel, or campground each year. For us, it was and is, an amazing wilderness, thinly populated, and seasonally overrun with trash throwing, impatient driving, self-important, overbearing tourists. Those sometimes unpleasant people were and are the livelihood of much of the mitten’s “up North” population.
Since Granny and her family used to live “up North”, we are the myth that no one really talks about, we went the “wrong” way. If I had a nickel for everyone “up North”, who wonders when we’ll be back, who miserable we are, how we can stand it down here, etc, I could retire and go where I want. The thing is, everyone in southeastern lower Michigan isn’t as bad as the mythical tourist I describe above, and everyone in northern Michigan isn’t as nice as the people who ask how we can stand it here.
The convenience of group living has some bearing on one’s ability to manage in a suburban environment. We had an EIGHT party phone line, even in the mid 1970′s in rural Wexford County, Michigan. Cable TV, natural gas, water and sewer systems were a dream then, and is still a dream in that neighborhood today. Companies simply can’t make a profit serving spread out rural areas, and so they don’t serve them. But it was quiet, and we could have chickens, and a big garden, and everyone knew what an outdoor dog was, and how to build a doghouse that would keep him warm and safe. And they didn’t let their outdoor dogs bark ALL THE TIME like our neighbor here does. Well, it is an indoor dog, but when outdoors, it barks at everything.
We also happen to realize that things change, even up North, and the influx of people to our old home has made it less what is was, and more like our current home in some ways. We noticed years ago that the “southern” Michigan people wanted better and wider roads, more restaurants, big houses, city water, and so on. All the things that made living in the “city” were conveniences that were missed on the trek to peace and quite. When you pave the roads, put in (and pay for) more city services, bring (and drive) several cars, dump tons of fertilizer on the lawns, and other dangerous – or at least damaging behaviors; you change the place you ran to into the place you ran from.
So now, I’ll get off my soapbox and let you know about our great weekend. We saw a great band play on Saturday night, comprised mostly of Northern Michigan people, and a one who migrated there, and one who lives in a city-like area not so far from here. It was M-in-L’s birthday, and we enjoyed a dinner out before the show, a chocolate cake before and after, and a snowstorm (well, we didn’t like that part) Sunday morning. We got out before the snow blew the roads closed, and hurried south to the relative warmth (8 degrees) of our “Southern” home!