Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Hungry Patriot?

I grew up in southeastern Michigan; left the state at 22; and haven't really been back in a while. So this is the first time in years I've spent a significant amount of time in Michigan, and we ended up driving all over the state, from Detroit to Lake Michigan (and even to Indiana). At one point, driving down one of those two-lane, country highways, I had this funny image that we were traveling along a buffet table ...

Frankly, I'd forgotten how much FOOD you're surrounded by in the Midwest in July. It's everywhere. Fields of corn, row after row after row. Soybeans. Strawberry and blueberry farms. Asparagus. Farmers stands with tables groaning under the weight of fresh-picked tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash. Almost every house we visited had a little vegetable patch out back.

Then there's the lakes. We did a little salmon fishing last week and, in two hours, caught two 14 lb. salmon. Back at the dock, we cleaned 'em, filleted 'em, and then I treated myself to the best sashimi I've ever had—salmon so fresh it was still cold from the lake water. The next day, we went to throw the fish guts away in the woods and stumbled on a freaking wild turkey in the woods, just hanging out, waiting to get basted.

The deer in Michigan want to get eaten so badly they regularly jump at cars.

It's just amazing. The lakes and fields and woods are literally teeming with things people can eat. I know this just sounds like I haven't had breakfast yet (and I haven't), but the sheer abundance really did strike me. It made me wonder how anybody in this country can be allowed to go hungry when there's so MUCH. And I'm not exactly sure this will make sense, but it made me really grateful to be an American. I know we're working on a few things nationally at the moment, and nowhere is this more obvious than Michigan. The state is really hurting—a real estate market that has lost 10 or 15 years of value; among the highest unemployment in the country; a major city that is literally emptying out and decaying before everybody's eyes; auto companies that are pulling back and ripping the heart from the state's economy. But even with all this, underneath all this, it's hard not to marvel at this country. You get the feeling—or at least I did—that we're all going to be OK in the long run.


Mark Terry said...

Well, since I drove from Oxford to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and back today, basically from one side of the state to the other, what I mostly noticed was how freakin' boring it is between Grand Rapids and Lansing. Although I did notice the corn and a deer that was considering a suicide run on the side of the expressway.

Melanie Avila said...

(Side note: Mark, that IS across the lake from the camp I used to go to. Very cool.)

Jon, you've described it so well. Michigan is hurting so badly and yet... there's bounty everywhere. I appreciate it every day.

Too bad we couldn't meet up!