I am proud to be a Michigander. This is the only place, to date, that I have ever called home. My state is shaped like a snuggly piece of clothing. My state is surrounded by a fresh water collection so totally awesome that we call it the Great Lakes. My state has four rockin’ seasons; although, I must admit, winter is really only “super cool” for a month or two. Eventually, the snow gets dirty and, if you’re me, your skin gets extremely dry and crackly and your hair starts to float like you just touched one of those electricity globes.
Back on track.
Whenever I hear one of those “Pure Michigan” commercials on the radio–you know, the ones narrated by the great Tim Allen–I think of my late cousin Erin. I’ll be honest and say that I hear these commercials when, I firmly believe, she is reaching out to me: reminding me to be calm, or just to pay attention, in general. Anyway, Mr. Allen has, on many occasions, encouraged me to explore the northern part of my state; visit anytime really, but especially by summer.
Perhaps distracted by thoughts of my cousin, I have given the content of this advertising campaign little to no thought at all. I’d been to Traverse City once or twice, and anyway, I live in Michigan. Why do I need to be convinced to vacation in my own state? Well, obviously, I didn’t fully realize what I’d find if I traveled to the tip-top of my state’s proud middle digit. Specifically if I traveled up to a little island named Mackinac.
Do you know what you’ll find if you’re lucky enough to hitch a ride up there to Mackinac Island? You’ll find out what it’s like to be dropped into one of those miniature Christmas towns that old ladies display in their living rooms around the holiday season. That’s what. Truly. It’s bright. It twinkles. It smells like fudge, mostly, and a little like horse droppings, but you forgive that almost instantly because everyone else sure has. People are laughing. Everyone seems to say hello with a kind, genuine smile. And just like that, the rest of the world melts away. And there you are, somewhere in time, with your face pressed against a candy shoppe window, thinking to yourself, “well, I did bike around the entire island today, so I think I deserve that salt water taffy.” (And you’d be right.)
It’s a pretty fantastic place to be in love, too.
There was a moment on our too short a trip that I found myself watching the beautifully crystal blue water of Lake Michigan crash around. I took a long, deep breath (which if you know me, you know that I don’t take long deep breaths often enough). And I just watched. And I just listened to the wind. And I was completely awe-struck. Have you ever been awe-struck? Nature has that effect on me sometimes; overwhelming nature, like mountains or bodies of water that you can’t see all the way across. The kind of nature that reminds you that the world could open up and swallow you whole if she really wanted to, because she’s a kick-ass living, breathing organism and she’s not to be messed with. The kind of nature that leaves you feeling small, but in a good way. You know, nature like that. It leaves you awe-struck.
My state leaves you awe-struck.
But just don’t take my word for it. Go out and take that little suggestion from the great Tim Allen, and explore the mitten. And keep exploring it. Maybe it’ll make you feel like I do: so very proud to be a Michigander, no matter where my soul might lead me, for as long as my heart still beats.