Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beloved "up north" tradition overshadowed by summer storm

If you've ever lived in Michigan, you know that going "up north" is a beloved, summertime tradition, heavily steeped in redneck spirituality.
We celebrate the adventure by posting photos to Facebook, relive details through riveting dialogue with friends and sing songs saluting every detail.
From Traverse City, to Ludington,; Petsokey, to Frankenmuth, some of our favorite family moments have taken place somewhere "up north".
This summer, in celebration of the July 4th holiday, we patriotically climbed into our dark red mini-van and pointed the GPS "north" for a Port Austin themed vacation.

But instead of running headfirst into the mosquito-netted doorway of our now leaky tent or even the rustic entrance of a quaint, rented cottage, we opted for a “plusher” experience at the resident Holiday Inn .
Not that we don't love the scent of coffee in the morning, cozy campfire fumes at night, fewer electronics… unexpected raindrops, hungry raccoons and flashlight runs to a restroom at 3 a.m.
It was just time for a change; temporary perhaps, but change none-the-less.
The good news is that last time I checked, authorities had not yet tried to revoke our Michigan residency. Yay!
But it’s still early.
Because yes, with temperatures soaring into the high nineties and 100s, we were very much enjoying lake swimming and kayaking by day and our air-conditioned beds at night.
The second day of our trip, however, dawned bleak and rainy.
No problem.
We had a beautiful indoor pool and hot tub to enjoy, along with enough reading material and clean fluffy towels to get us through 'most anything.
Almost anything. 
Even cushy hotel rooms are no match for bad weather back home.
Our phones started blowing up at about 7:30 that night.
We did not know, of course, until 90 minutes later, because we were too busy frolicking phone-less with the cousins at the hotel pool.
Meanwhile, according to our more responsible and extremely thoughtful neighbors, heavy rains, winds and power outages were lashing our Chesterfield Township neighborhood.
Fences, trees, flagpoles and basketball hoops were ripped down, uprooted or snapped in half.
Refrigerators were heating up, along with the air-conditioned homes that housed them. 
And sump pumps, those darn sump pumps, were starting to overflow.
No, we did not have a battery-operated back-up system.
No, we did not have an extra key handy for Floyd and Renee Wickman, who were among those who generously offered to check the flood status of our basement.
So, at 9:05 p.m. a slightly less festive hubby hopped back into the mini-van and high-tailed it down Van Dyke Avenue for a night-time rendezvous with some of the best people we know.
When Bruce got home at 10:30 p.m. – traffic was good! – he didn’t have to ring a doorbell or send a text for Dan Breathour and Joe Media to show up on our doorstep, generator in tow.

For the past two hours, the pair had been draining sump pumps and sending cooling zaps of power to parched refrigerators.
How lucky were we?
Not to mention, the water in our sump pump was topping out, but had yet to leak a single drop of unwelcome water anywhere.
As Bruce described the damage to our sub over the phone – towering pine trees, tossed around like plastic toys, a trampoline folded in half and wrapped around electrical wires, I couldn’t help but think: wow!
Another reminder that we humans really and truly are not in control.
Not that I don't love being a control freak when the mood strikes – and if you ask my husband and kids, that’s basically all day long. 
It’s just an enormous relief to know that more powerful forces are at work here.
Which is good news.
It means I don’t have to carry the weight and responsibility of person-hood, parenthood, life, by myself.
For one thing, I have awesome people like Bruce and Dan and Joe willing to hold up much more than their fair share.
Even at 10:30 at night.
Anybody out there also find beauty in violent, summer storms? Why or why not?
MichiMom wants to know.


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