Water Winter Wonderland

It's MICHigan, not MITCHigan, folks!

A couple of mugs from Michigan

I’m a Michigander. I don’t often tell people that, these days. When I do, they usually laugh. Maybe I should say “Michigoose”, except that sounds like something from “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, Kipling’s tale about a heroic mongoose.

The mugs shown in the picture are gifts from our Bay City friends, Sue and Mark Stevens. The “Great Flake State” features characters by an artist called Guindon, who coined that immortal phrase: “Carp: it’s not just for breakfast any more”.

Thanks to Mark, I found out that Michigan abolished the death penalty in the 1800s. Through the wonders of the net, I’ve discovered that it was as long ago as 1847.

Michigan’s long-standing and, amongst American states, unusual ban of legal execution is just one more reason to be proud of my birthplace. OK, so we chose the wrong robin as our state bird – cue links to pictures of the wrong robin, and the correct, or British, robin. On the plus side, it has a cool motto: “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice.” Translated: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you.”

The lower peninsula of Michigan, where I hail from, looks like a mitten. Whilst known to all Michiganders aged around 3 and up, this strange yet marvelous fact appears to have escaped the notice of the folks in charge of the official state website. As for the upper peninsula – known to some UP residents as “da Yoop” – well, your guess is as good as mine.

When I was a child, and almost every employed person in the Detroit area had a new car every year if they could afford it – or even, I suspect, if they couldn’t – the slogan on the license plates said “Water Winter Wonderland”, a reference to Michigan’s tourist status as a boatin’, skiin’, huntin’ sort of place. By the time I got my first, and only, American car, the slogan was a more economical “Great Lakes State”.

It will be odd, going back to my home state as a tourist. I’ve now lived longer in the UK than America, and it’s been many years now since my last visit .

Michigan, I didn’t leave you because I didn’t love you. I left you because I loved someone else, more.

See you soon, my watery, wintery wonderland. May your Lakes be forever Great.

About Sheila N

Enough about me. Art by Tom Brown.
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2 Responses to Water Winter Wonderland

  1. Suzanne Stevens says:

    Pleased, and a little surprised, to see you still have the mugs–and that the paint, apparently, hasn’t started to fade on them 😉 Sadly, winters here have become much more wintry (read: arctically cold) since you’ve moved, but Michigan is still lovely most of the rest of the year. I guess if you’ve grown up with the ‘water, winter, wonderland’ ‘slogan’, you don’t have much trouble saying it fast. As a child, I made up a song about “The Mitt and the Horse” because the Yoop looked like a horse to me. No, i was never a normal child…

    • sjn25 says:

      I’ll go with horse. Someday, which may well involve beer, you must sing me “The Mitt and the Horse”.

      I know a chap from Denmark who says his home country looks like an old man with a cold. Take a look at a map of Scandinavia, and let me know what you think.

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