Michiganders have a secret that’s not discussed with out-of-staters: There is a mass migration that takes place each summer; city dwellers leaving their homes to find peace in the lakes and woods far away. It happens mostly on weekends, starting near Memorial Day, and lasting through Labor Day. We simply call this, “going north.” But the mundane name belies its nature. There’s a ritual to this movement. Routes and stops stay the same from year to year; from generation to generation. These landmarks take on the nature of a chant, an invocation of mystery–the strange and delightful way that a three-hour drive slowly spreads to five, to six, to eight or more. Stopping, shopping, eating, looking, smellingtastingexperiencing all along the way. Luxuriating in the coolness of the Great Lakes wind on your skin, when compared to the stagnant suburban summer air. It’s brilliant. It’s disorienting. It’s liminal. You don’t have to be anywhere any particular when. Space and time lose rational meaning, and become Birch Run–Zilwaukee Bridge–Pinconning–TurkeyRoostWeissKocher’sAlward’sSnufferme! Morning becomes afternoon, trees become more common as cities shrink away, and finally, finally, you jump out of the car, run down a path by your cabin, and stand to stare at the last rays of light shining on the lake which you, deep in your heart, call home. If you are an impetuous child, you may strip off your shoes and stick your toes in the water, before running back to help bring your pillow in from the car. If you are older, you may stay only a moment, but that moment is a promise that you will return, shortly, for a good wade. [Read more…]
Currently, I’m sitting in the waiting room of the Ann Arbor Honda dealership, waiting for my car to be serviced. The Ricki Lake show is playing on the TV, which would be really irritating, except for the fact that I’m on the internet! The city, apparently, has a ton of free wifi hotspots. Who knew? (Answer: locals.)
When I find things like this, I almost always react with the thought, “we are living in the future, and it’s AMAZING!” Except, that type of thing always prompts the follow-up thought of, “oh yeah? Where’s my flying car?”
That’s such an outdated image of the future though. I mean… flying cars, really? They do exist, but they’re definitely not mainstream. And I’m not sure they should be. After all, regular car maintenance is expensive enough–can you imagine the cost of an oil change for one of those? Or the traffic congestion in LA? It’s bad enough already, so I’ll pass. This current “future”–where I can carry a supercomputer around in my pocket, contact my friends by telephone from the mountains of Wales, and take 2,000 pictures on a single “roll” of film–is miraculous enough. And for dreams of a more technological future? How about a space elevator and a Mars colony? They sound pretty good to me!