I was born and raised in Michigan and lived there (mostly) until I was 24. Then I moved just south to Ohio, where I lived for 13 years. I have a big place in my heart for these two Midwestern states, and writing my book, which is set in both, as well as on the Great Lakes, really made me fall in love with them even more. Especially my home state.
My mom asked me recently if I would ever move back to Michigan if given the chance. It’s highly unlikely that I would ever be given the chance, and I love my current (dream) job so much, it would have to be a really good chance. But yes, I would absolutely move back to Michigan, and here’s why (in no particular order):
Apple Orchards and Cider Mills. It’s September, so this is foremost in my mind! For years, we would make at least one annual trip to Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada, MI, but usually two or more trips. Labor Day weekend meant picking Macintosh apples to make applesauce, which we froze in Tupperware containers to be eaten all year. Then, later in October, we’d go back for the rest of the experience: hayrides, watching the cider press in action, cinnamon sugar donuts warm from the fryer, caramel apples…my mouth is watering and my heart is hurting right now, y’all! (I live in Virignia now. I’m allowed to say y’all.) Even when we were in Ohio, we could still find an excuse to make the 3-hour trip north to Blake’s every year. I don’t have that easy-ish access anymore, and we’ve yet to find a comparable local experience. I’m still on the hunt, though!
The Lakes. I’m definitely partial to the Great Lakes over the thousands of inland lakes, but that’s because it’s where I spent more time. Many, many weekend family camping trips were spent at Lakeport State Park on Lake Huron. Beach days, campfires, writing in my journal late into the night by flashlight…I never tire of reliving those memories. When I was in high school, my aunt and uncle purchased property on Lake Huron, so even though we were camping a lot less by then, we still spent time near the water. We visited Ludington State Park on Lake Michigan. I spent numerous weeks at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s property, Cedar Campus, on the northern shores of Lake Huron. I looked over what seemed like the whole of Lake Erie from the top of roller coasters at Cedar Point. I biked with my youth group around the perimeter of the Upper Peninsula, and on that trip I was baptized in Lake Superior (full immersion…brrrrr!). I miss the lakes so much. Also, no sharks. I would say no hurricanes either, but that’s not entirely true…teaser about my novel!
My Family. We’re pretty scattered across the U.S., from Maryland to California, Florida to Michigan, and a few other places in between. But Michigan is our most tried-and-true meeting point. And the energy and revitalization I get from those extended family gatherings is unbeatable. They don’t happen very often, but when they do, I always leave feeling more myself, more loved, more known than any other time, except for maybe when I get together with my friends from high school, who also happen to be in Michigan. Now that I’ve mentioned them, I thought about going back to change the header of this section to “My Family and Friends,” but there’s no need. Those girls are family, too. To be in closer proximity to all of them would be incredible.
The Snow. Yep. I love snow. Fight me on this one. If winter is going to be cold and dreary and colorless and otherwise miserable, it might as well be blanketed with a sparkling layer of magic, i.e. snow. I love taking walks in the snow, especially at night, when the world is pure and peaceful. There was never enough snow in Ohio, and my first winter in Virginia yielded virtually none. Everyone insists it was a very unusual. We’ll test the theory this year.
It’s Gorgeous. Growing up, I was never particularly proud of my home state, but that has changed tremendously. The Upper Peninsula alone is practically a mystical realm, with Tahquamenon Falls, the Pictured Rocks, the Keweenaw Peninsula, mile-high pine trees on limestone bluffs, and so much more. I’ve already mentioned the inland lakes, Grand Traverse Bay is breathtaking, and of course there’s the magical, frozen-in-time Mackinac Island. Michigan is one of the most incredible places for natural beauty, and I’m smart enough now to take immense pride in being from there.
I’ll go ahead and wrap up my gushing about Michigan. There’s more to say, but I’ll leave it for another time. If you’ve never been to The Mitten, think about going. And if you don’t want to (or can’t) go, I hope you’ll soon be able to pick up a copy of my book and visit through its pages.