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. Tonya M. Member
    Tonya M.
    @

    (Western PA) About two years ago I was driving home in the early evening when the traffic ahead of us on the four lane seemed to be slowing. I assumed the cars ahead were stuck behind a tractor-trailer struggling up the hill. Considering a change in lanes, I glanced into the mirror and THUNK. A deer fell from the sky and landed on the driver’s side of the hood/door shattering the windshield with its head and tearing off the mirror.

    We pulled onto the berm and the driver behind us stopped to see if we were okay. She was stunned as she looked in the passenger window and said, “That deer just fell out of the sky onto your car.” I actually asked for her name and number thinking that my insurance company may not believe that we had been hit by a flying deer. (Being November, it was a bit early for Santa!)

    Best we can determine, someone ahead of us hit the deer sending it up across the lane where it landed on its back on our SUV. There was actually a deer butt dent where it hit the edge of the car and deer fur stuck in the window frame.

    Fortunately the insurance agent who handled my call was from Ohio and had heard stranger deer stories!

    deer damage

    • #31
  2. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Tonya M.:(Western PA) About two years ago I was driving home in the early evening when the traffic ahead of us on the four lane seemed to be slowing. I assumed the cars ahead were stuck behind a tractor-trailer struggling up the hill. Considering a change in lanes, I glanced into the mirror and THUNK. A deer fell from the sky and landed on the driver’s side of the hood/door shattering the windshield with its head and tearing off the mirror.

    We pulled onto the berm and the driver behind us stopped to see if we were okay. She was stunned as she looked in the passenger window and said, “That deer just fell out of the sky onto your car.” I actually asked for her name and number thinking that my insurance company may not believe that we had been hit by a flying deer. (Being November, it was a bit early for Santa!)

    Best we can determine, someone ahead of us hit the deer sending it up across the lane where it landed on its back on our SUV. There was actually a deer butt dent where it hit the edge of the car and deer fur stuck in the window frame.

    Fortunately the insurance agent who handled my call was from Ohio and had heard stranger deer stories!

    deer damage

    Astonishing.

    • #32
  3. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    The Reticulator:[…] There is a farm east of Mendon (sort of between my place and Hillsdale) […]

    Mendon? Mendon??? Whoa, that hits close to home, literally. I grew up in Bronson.

    This whole area is Fred Country. From Mendon, go south to Sturgis (where we went to church), then go east on US-12 to pass through Bronson, Coldwater, Qunicy, Allen (home of Honor Books), and Jonesville, then it’s just 10 minutes south to Hillsdale. The country is gorgeous and melancholy, home of ruined post & beam barns in the country and magnificent Italianate Victorian homes in the towns.

    • #33
  4. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Tonya M.: (Western PA)

    We’ll be expecting you at our next meetup.

    • #34
  5. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    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

    Don’t I know it! Apparently nowhere was this truer than in the men’s athletic programs. Glad they fired that AD as well. The new one is a great businessman.

    • #35
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Fredösphere:

    The Reticulator:[…] There is a farm east of Mendon (sort of between my place and Hillsdale) […]

    Mendon? Mendon??? Whoa, that hits close to home, literally. I grew up in Bronson.

    St Joseph County and Branch County are both great for historical bicycle riding.  If you’re familiar with Bronson, you probably are familiar with the famous location where US-12 crosses the Prairie River a few miles to the west.  There are a couple of photos – maybe not my best photos – in my Spokesrider article, William Hogeland and the Whiskey RebellionLast time in Bronson I wasn’t doing settlement-era history, though.  I ended a ride there after taking photos of township halls to the south and east.

    • #36
  7. Tonya M. Member
    Tonya M.
    @

    Casey: We’ll be expecting you at our next meetup.

    I’m in!

    • #37
  8. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    The Reticulator:

    If you’re familiar with Bronson, you probably are familiar with the famous location where US-12 crosses the Prairie River a few miles to the west. There are a couple of photos – maybe not my best photos – in my Spokesrider article, William Hogeland and the Whiskey Rebellion. Last time in Bronson I wasn’t doing settlement-era history, though. I ended a ride there after taking photos of township halls to the south and east.

    Familiar? Ha! I grew up one mile to the north on Taggart Road.

    We always called that spot on the river Douglas Dale because the local Mr. Moneybags, owner of Bronson’s Douglas Factory, built a depression-era golf course there on the north side of US-12. (One artifact of that time that still stands is a decorative miniature “mill”.)

    Douglas’ rambling country home is south of the bridge. The story my mom always told was that the house was moved from downtown Bronson because his wife refused to move to the country without it. A dutch family later bought the farm and we knew them well; I played in that house as a kid.

    • #38
  9. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    We don’t need to go anywhere.  Yesterday, there were three deer  wandering through the cul-de-sac, right on the paved circle.  We couldn’t get out of the garage for the 20 minute drive through town to downtown Minneapolis.

    • #39
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Fredösphere:Familiar? Ha! I grew up one mile to the north on Taggart Road.

    We always called that spot on the river Douglas Dale because the local Mr. Moneybags, owner of Bronson’s Douglas Factory, built a depression-era golf course there on the north side of US-12. (One artifact of that time that still stands is a decorative miniature “mill”.)

    Douglas’ rambling country home is south of the bridge. The story my mom always told was that the house was moved from downtown Bronson because his wife refused to move to the country without it. A dutch family later bought the farm and we knew them well; I played in that house as a kid.

    Nice talking to someone who knows the area and can tell me about it. I’ll try to remember to look for it next time I’m out that way.  I don’t recall Taggart Road, but I may have ridden on it to reach the little road that connects Holmes Road and Hollow Road.  I don’t remember exactly whose story I was following up on at that time. It was a long time ago – back before I had a digital camera.

    I’m not sure why, but I’ve ridden more often to the south of that point than north, even though I live to the north.  Quite a bit of Amish country to the south, if I remember correctly.

    • #40
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