The UP

On a recent trip to the Lansing Michigan area to visit family, the t-shirt I was wearing started a conversation. That t-shirt had been given to me by my neighbor for helping him pull his truck out of some ruts he’d gotten himself into. The shirt said, “Copper Country” in shiny copper colored lettering. When my new friend saw it, her whole demeanor changed. She said she visited the UP as often as she could. In fact, she said she was taking the next 2 days off to make a long weekend of a fall color trip to the Tahquamenon Falls area with her two sisters.

As we got talking, I told her about our 160 acres, 2 ponds, and maple syrup operation, and she had that unmistakable look of sheer envy in her eyes.

I can understand her thinking. I grew up in the Lansing area. It is flat there, and the summer weather is muggy. The rivers flow sluggishly. It snows in the winter, but the snow doesn’t stay white. Human activity tends to turn that snow grey. Up here, by contrast, there are hills, valleys, rivers with rapids and waterfalls, and Lake Superior right in the neighborhood. Folks travel from all over the world to visit the place we take for granted every day.

This got me thinking about the importance of wilderness, and about our wisdom in preserving some of it. Flat muggy land is good for growing grapes and corn, but just doesn’t move the soul like a rushing river. We seem to need to believe there are still places in our neighborhood that have not been spoiled by civilization. Some of us never escape the place where we grew up. Some of us have been lucky enough to find a life up here. It’s not for everybody, but then it it was, there’d probably be condos on the hillsides instead of trees.

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