(CLIO, MI) — My friends — all two of them — ask why I come to Michigan in the summer. They question if the attraction is the 97-degree heat accompanied by the 99 percent humidity. They wonder if I like the mosquitoes, often as big as sparrows.
How about the sudden thundershowers passing through without warning to drench an otherwise enjoyable picnic or golf game?
Michigan has its downside, as does every place, no matter where you are. Nothing is great, or awful, all the time. Heck, look how many guys have rejected Pamela Anderson. Jennifer Lopez and her man just called it quits too. Get my drift?
Make no mistake. I love Chula Vista and San Diego. Where else can you go for a walk on the beach on Christmas Eve wearing a short-sleeved shirt? Drive just 50 miles east on a snowy winter day and you can slide down hills on a sled. Sledding on Cuyamaca isn’t skiing in Aspen, but it’s still fun.
Chula Vista is always nice except for a few drenching El Niño rains and killing Santa Ana winds.
When my wife and I go to the J Street Marina at sunset in December or January with a bottle of wine and some Cheetos (yes I am a hopeless romantic and a big spender) she will invariably ask, “I wonder what they’re doing in Clio right now?” The answer is they’re either shoveling snow or getting ready to shovel snow.
While San Diego is always nice, it’s never beautiful like when Michigan is beautiful.
The clincher for me is how green Michigan is. San Diego is always OK, but it’s never green. In San Diego there are no majestic trees, unless you count the eucalyptus in my front yard that makes me sweep the sidewalk and street about 340 days a year.
At our home in Michigan there is a dense wooded area about 25 feet from the back deck. I sit out there, sip Pabst Blue Ribbon, think about the next Behind Police Lines column, and relax. The greenery that surrounds me gives solace to my troubled soul. I was a cop for 35 years so, yes, I often have a troubled soul. Sitting on my deck is soothing. The Pabst Blue Ribbon doesn’t hurt either.
I whistle bird calls into the woods and some even answer me, although the birds with whom I communicate must think I am a transplant from Bosnia or Poland, what with my ornithological whistling accent.
Another good thing about Michigan is even though there are fewer golf courses and the season is shorter, it is cheaper to golf in Michigan. Go figure. The courses are plentiful enough and they are well tended. I am an equally poor golfer in both states.
Finally, there is no comparison to autumn in Michigan, unless you have visited New England, which I never have. My older son played football at Hilltop High. I once told him, “You don’t know how great it is to play football on a sunny but cold autumn afternoon with a few steel-gray clouds hovering overhead.”
He looked at me like I was nuts, which maybe I was (am). Nuts about summer and fall in Michigan, that is. I still am.
It has been a great summer in Michigan. We took a trip across the state to the Lake Michigan side, visited a few wineries and went to the Ernest Hemingway Museum in Petoskey where his family used to spend their summers. I guess spending the summers in Michigan is the only thing Ernest (don’t call me “Ernie”) and I have in common. Oh yes, we both worked for newspapers, he at the start of his illustrious career and me near the end.
Tom Basinski is now home in California where he can eat some good Mexican food. There is Mexican food in Michigan but it’s not as good as Chula Vista’s.