On Becoming a Michigander

 

shutterstock_64887757I left Oklahoma for Michigan in July 2007. Had it not been for a sabbatical a couple of years ago spent at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, this would be my ninth year in the state.

It was not until last night, however, that I finally crossed the threshold and joined the locals.

No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home. And, no, I feel no attachment to Michigan State.

But there is a rite of passage that outsiders, such as myself, must pass to join the throng; and, as I said, I passed it last night.

After going to mass, my wife, my children, and I had spent the entire day raking leaves. That, each November, is a characteristic Michigander thing to do. We have at least 29 trees on our property and dealing with their excrement is an ordeal of sorts every year. Sunday’s effort was just the beginning. About half of the leaves are down. We will deal with the rest in two weeks.

After the workout, we jumped in the car and headed to Homer, MI to the best pizza joint in the state. Called Cascarelli’s, it has been in operation for eighty years — run by the same family, generation after generation.

On our way home, I passed my baptism of fire. I bagged a deer … with a Honda Odyssey. I can think of six or seven times when this almost happened — when two or three of the hapless beasts appeared suddenly out of a gully, and I just missed clipping one of them. Last night, however, I did not miss … and like many another Michigander car, our vehicle needs a bit of attention.

Sigh.

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  1. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    One of the unsung benefits of living in the north central states, deer hunting by car.  And, you don’t even need a license to go hunting by car.

    • #1
  2. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I hope all are ok.

    At least you are not a Hoosier.  One year I bagged a deer, a cow, a duck and a skunk.  Every time I got the truck out of the shop it had to go back for repairs.  To make it worse I was working in a manufacturing environment with its normal blue collar humor.  For months when I walked through the plant somebody would get on the radio and start mooing at me.  One day I came out of work and some smart aleck stuck decals of each animal on the side of truck like you see on the side of a fighter pilots plane.  There was even a pool on how long it would be before I made “ace”.  The joys of living and working in the country.

    • #2
  3. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home.

    Speaking as a native born Michigander, this ^ may present a problem, but I do agree with your point about my full-time job as a teenager raking leaves in the family’s yard.

    I would add that you must develop that infamous nasal intonation to fully pass as a local. :)

    • #3
  4. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    anonymous:

    Paul A. Rahe: Last night, however, I did not miss … and like many another Michigander car, our vehicle needs a bit of attention.

    Did you take it home, dress it out, butcher it, and put the meat in your freezer? Then you’re really a Michigander, and almost a Yooper.

    You are right, and I fall short.

    • #4
  5. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Deer are everywhere. I live in NJ of all places and they are always on my front and back lawn. I can’t keep blueberry bushes.

    In 2004 I bought a 40th Anniversary Mustang GT convertible. Two weeks later it had a huge dent in the side the shape of a deer.

    • #5
  6. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Fake John Galt:I hope all are ok.

    At least you are not a Hoosier. One year I bagged a deer, a cow, a duck and a skunk. Every time I got the truck out of the shop it had to go back for repairs. To make it worse I was working in a manufacturing environment with its normal blue collar humor. For months when I walked through the plant somebody would get on the radio and start mooing at me. One day I came out of work and some smart aleck stuck decals of each animal on the side of truck like you see on the side of a fighter pilots plane. There was even a pool on how long it would be before I made “ace”. The joys of living and working in the country.

    Wonderful.

    • #6
  7. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    anonymous:

    Paul A. Rahe: Last night, however, I did not miss … and like many another Michigander car, our vehicle needs a bit of attention.

    Did you take it home, dress it out, butcher it, and put the meat in your freezer? Then you’re really a Michigander, and almost a Yooper.

    Two distinct cultures between a Yooper and the lower peninsula, John!

    • #7
  8. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Well professor, if it’s good enough for the Michigoose…

    • #8
  9. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    I call deer land-carp because they’ve become a trash animal(canadian geese are sky-carp, FYI).  As fewer and fewer people hunt they will become more and more numerous.  We see them in our backyard so often they seldom elicit a remark.

    • #9
  10. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    True Frozen. We even try to name ours.

    • #10
  11. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Going into rural Michigan airports at night, it was SOP to make at least one low pass down the runway. It was a little erie to see a hundred or so pairs of glowing yellow eyes in the landing lights.

    • #11
  12. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    I had my initiation early this year, between Omak, Washington, and Tonasket, Washington.  In my case I had to climb down in to the ditch and dispatch the deer, as it was still alive.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Paul A. Rahe: No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home.

    I was born and grew up in Ann Arbor and got my BS (in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) from the University of Michigan. Once upon a time I would have done just that. Cannot say I have had any interest in doing so in this century.

    Seawriter

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Down in Ohio, my aunt got a 12-point buck with a ’73 Nova.

    It was delicious.

    • #14
  15. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Frozen Chosen: canadian geese are sky-carp, FYI)

    A lovely poem appeared in First Things a couple of years back:

    To Canada: An Ode

    If you would have peace

    Call off your geese.

    • #15
  16. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Percival:Down in Ohio, my aunt got a 12-point buck with a ’73 Nova.

    It was delicious.

    One of my friends watched a deer get stuck in her garden. Unable to find the gate, the young buck lowered his head and charged the fence. He missed the deer netting, struck a metal eight-foot fence pole that was sunk a foot-and-a-half into the ground, broke his neck, and dropped down dead. Her children, watching, cheered. Their neighbor, a hunter, cut it up for shares.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Percival:Down in Ohio, my aunt got a 12-point buck with a ’73 Nova.

    It was delicious.

    Hardest hit (after the buck) was her brother-in-law – my uncle.  The number of hours he spent sitting in deer blinds waiting and watching doe after doe wander by…

    • #17
  18. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    https://youtu.be/kb9yhhflmvY

    • #18
  19. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Driving an Odyssey must resonate for a classicist, but in Michigan it’s proper form (and a lot safer!) to clip hapless beasts with a Ford-150.

    I’m a Honda guy myself, but it’s California here, and lunch was sushi.

    • #19
  20. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    I had no idea it was so tame around Hillsdale. Where are the bear encounters?

    • #20
  21. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Fricosis Guy:I had no idea it was so tame around Hillsdale. Where are the bear encounters?

    The Upper Peninsula.

    • #21
  22. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Seawriter:

    Paul A. Rahe: No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home.

    I was born and grew up in Ann Arbor and got my BS (in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) from the University of Michigan. Once upon a time I would have done just that. Cannot say I have had any interest in doing so in this century.

    Seawriter

    When Bo was still there at least the football program was still conservative .. he wasn’t much for navel gazing

    • #22
  23. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    jetstream:

    Seawriter:

    Paul A. Rahe: No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home.

    I was born and grew up in Ann Arbor and got my BS (in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) from the University of Michigan. Once upon a time I would have done just that. Cannot say I have had any interest in doing so in this century.

    Seawriter

    When Bo was still there at least the football program was still conservative .. he wasn’t much for navel gazing

    And neither is #4 Jim Harbaugh. :)

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Paul A. Rahe: to Homer, MI to the best pizza joint in the state. Called Cascarelli’s, it has been in operation for eighty years — run by the same family, generation after generation.

    We ate there on my 2nd to last bicycle ride to Homer. It was good. The closest I got to Hillsdale this year was Litchfield.

    Several years ago after listening to someone claim that deer accidents were due to drivers not being careful, I gathered some data at my workplace.  I asked each person 1) how long s/he had lived in Michigan, and 2) how many deer accidents. Turns out the number was highly correlated with length of time in Michigan.  A couple of people told stories of how they had come to a complete stop where deer were crossing the road, and deer ran into their vehicles anyway.

    The person who inspired this research said he was tired of the topic and didn’t want to talk about it any more.

    Once, about a mile from home, as I approached on my bicycle, a deer crossed the road in front of me, then another dashed across in front of me and ran into the first one.  Clumsy creatures.  I’ve watched them slip and fall down on the pavement when I yell to let them know I’m coming.  I’ve watched them miss when they try to jump a fence.

    • #24
  25. Locke On Inactive
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    Fake John Galt:I hope all are ok.

    At least you are not a Hoosier. One year I bagged a deer, a cow, a duck and a skunk. Every time I got the truck out of the shop it had to go back for repairs. To make it worse I was working in a manufacturing environment with its normal blue collar humor. For months when I walked through the plant somebody would get on the radio and start mooing at me. One day I came out of work and some smart aleck stuck decals of each animal on the side of truck like you see on the side of a fighter pilots plane. There was even a pool on how long it would be before I made “ace”. The joys of living and working in the country.

    Hoosier born and bred, but I didn’t get my deer until I had moved out of state, was driving back to visit my parents on an Xmas visit, and took out a young doe with my 6 week old Maxima.  (About 10 miles west of Marion.)

    Retired in Idaho now.  Here the deer are scarce and scared at this season.

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Congratulations, Paul. I’ve been here since 1990, and haven’t hit one yet. I did get a mallard drake in Indiana once, and a chipmunk with a golf ball in Illinois. I figure I’ve bagged my limit, though.

    • #26
  27. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    EThompson:

    jetstream:

    Seawriter:

    Paul A. Rahe: No, I do not now — nor will I ever — hang a University of Michigan flag outside my home.

    I was born and grew up in Ann Arbor and got my BS (in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) from the University of Michigan. Once upon a time I would have done just that. Cannot say I have had any interest in doing so in this century.

    Seawriter

    When Bo was still there at least the football program was still conservative .. he wasn’t much for navel gazing

    And neither is #4 Jim Harbaugh. :)

    True, but it is more than that.  In the 1960s and early 1970s civil rights was about making everyone equal before the law. So was my alma mater. UM today is intent on making everyone unequal before the law.

    Seawriter

    • #27
  28. Pony Convertible Member
    Pony Convertible
    @PonyConvertible

    This year, myself, my wife, & my son, have all hit deer with our vehicles.

    The DNR is trying to help.  This hunting season the limit on does in my county is 8.  If you do get that many in my county, it is perfectly acceptable to go to another county and shoot their limit (may be a different limit).   In short, they have given permission to harvest as many does as you can.  However, you can only get one buck statewide.  How is that for gender equality?

    • #28
  29. Fredösphere Member
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    Speaking of the geese, what really rankles is their sense of pedestrian entitlement. They march right out into traffic and dare you to hit them.

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Fredösphere:Speaking of the geese, what really rankles is their sense of pedestrian entitlement. They march right out into traffic and dare you to hit them.

    I’ve seen deer act that way, too.  That’s not their usual behavior, but I’ve seen it.  It may have something to do with hormones, time of year, and population density.

    There is a farm east of Mendon (sort of between my place and Hillsdale) where the people raise different varieties of geese, which are often out roaming the road.  I’d almost rather ride my bicycle where a snarling dog comes out to give chase than ride through those flocks.  But I do it.  The area has significance due to stories of interaction between Potawatomi people and early Euro-American settlers, so I like to ride through it occasionally.  It’s inside the old Nottawasipi reservation that existed for a few years in the 1820s-1830s.

    BTW, the Ojibwe word for deer is wawashkeshe. (Not sure if that’s the currently approved spelling – most Ojibwe people just spell these things using English letters in a way that seems phonetic.)  Deer is a word of animate gender, so the plural is wawashkeshewag.  I use these words often as I point to the roadside ahead when we’re driving the county roads in Michigan.  I presume the Potawatomi term is similar, but don’t know that for a fact.

    • #30

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