Thursday, September 23, 2010

September's Magic... Splendiferous!

Well as my beard grows and the day shortens, the Season is still sneaking thru September. Yes, it's true, in anticipation of a successful Deer Hunt, I usually do grow a beard. It's not that I'm particularly superstitious, but every time I have harvested a deer, I also have sported some facial hair. The true reason for this is a combination of just plain lazy, combined with an element of disguise. You see, if I wear a beard then the deer won't recognize me. They still point and laugh, but they don't know it's me.

Another wonderful aspect of this fair and lovely month is the venerated tradition that is College Football. To my foreign readers I must say now that I use the term Football in the Stateside sense of the word, and not in your Footy meaning. I intend no disrespect for your Footy, and do enjoy watching a good match. But, as a red blooded Uhmerrycan, there is no rival to College Football! Oh sure, you can go on about the NFL, and the level of play in the Big Show... but I, and many tens of other loyal Northern Michiganders, frankly wouldn't give a spit for those over paid, whiny, petulant babies. That might be because, unlike Wisconsin and Minnesota, we really don't have much of a pro team to follow here in Michigan. Point of fact, it wasn't that many years ago when the Lions lost each and every game during the season. I prefer to think that it is because we Northern 'Ganders are a much more pure, and therefore honest folk. And so we eschew too much professional success of anything. I assure you that Gordon Gecko could never have been a Northerner!

But as the cider mills open their doors in the morning for warm apple cider, and fresh donuts, and as sure as the Monarch butterflies have already beat their tiny wings away, we live for College Football! These young men are not in it for the money to be made, and most of them won't be seen in the Pro's. No sir, these student athletes play for the pure passion of the sport! And yes, that's my own, rather naive outlook, but then this my blog, and those are my opinions.

Saturday is Game Day, and you dress in your finest school of choice colors. Including skivvies and socks. Women who normally will be seen in a Sunday morning classroom teaching our children about Moses, or the Golden Rule and the like, will don panties emblazoned with their favorite mascot, and warpaint that would surely frighten Sitting Bull.  A few years the kids gave me a Big Ten t shirt as gift (probably Father's Day, since I no longer hafta wear a tie to work) and yes, we are a Big Ten family. Big Ten being one of several College Football leagues around the country, and of course we think the best. But this family is truly a Big Ten family, and we have connections to both teams in Michigan, as well as teams in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. You could say that Saturdays in our family can get rather competitive! The bets usually will involve such massive amounts as loser buys winner dinner and the like. After all, it wouldn't do to actually be so crass as to bet money on a game!

So yes, prepping for the coming Deer Season (which typically includes moving a Game Camera around to see when and where the varmints could be had) and rooting for your fave College Football team, yes, those truly are what stirs the passions of us in the North. Why just looking at  a picture of a fine buck a mere 25 yards away from your favorite blind has been known to make some otherwise taciturn folk weep with joy as this year, yes, this year he knows he'll finally bag the buck. And when the weekend rolls off another dreary Friday, then everyone cheers up as they just know in their of heart of hearts, that this week, oh yes this week, our team will be prevail against the Goliath of an opponent that we have no idea why we are playing? So we drink some beer, and snack on some munchies, and wear our school colors, and dream of deer, and then for a moment, just one small, bright moment of time, we are truly ecstatic in our hearts, and we forget to be dour, and we yell like we were really there in the stands... so for a brief time we are transported away, back to a gentler time, or just a different place. But time and a place where it doesn't matter that my beard is white (?!), and that you're overweight, and the car needs a repair, and so does the fence. For one afternoon, we all come together and share in our mutual victories and defeats, and that, my friends, is the true magic of College Football!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Suddenly September!

Yes, it's true! Suddenly it's September, and the air is fresher, the grass greener, and we're back to wearing jeans instead of shorts. Our days are a bit shorter to go along with the much more pleasant temps, and generally everybody up here is happier as a result.

You see, we rather tend to not like really beautiful weather. Especially days, or even weeks of it! All those hot, sunny days just mean that something bad is likely to happen because we're enjoying ourselves too much. Something bad can usually be translated as Blizzards, Ice Storms and Power Failures. Now those we cheerfully endure because we know that something better is coming. It's not easy living up here.

But living at the 45th Parallel does have some advantages. One of the more pleasant activities that we do to ward off the evil spirits of melancholy and despair (which really only serve to remind us of our true plight as humans) is the venerated tradition of Date Night.  My WonderLuv Wife, Barb, suggested that we go to a nightclub that featured dinner and dancing just a couple of weeks past. So we actually do a "dress up" date, and trundle up to the big city. Traverse City is an actual city, but nearly as large as they would have you believe. None the less, to Stephens Place Night Club we trod, and we were delighted! From being greeted at the door by John (everybody's favorite old, Italian uncle) to the wonderful server, Chris (she knew all about the place and it's history), including Chef Harry (who came out and had a lovely chat with us, explaining how he created such mouth watering dishes without fat, or butter) all the way thru to the entertainment of Doc Woodward who tickled the ivories at just the right volume, this date night was a sterling success!

Go ahead and click on the link above, but it really doesn't do the place justice! Barb and I were treated to some of the best food we'd happily noshed on in an age. There was no rushing thru dinner just to start tapping out toes either. Chris the cute waitress simply would bring out each wave of our Topas for Two (we both highly recommend) while allowing us to have a turn on the dance floor in between. No hurrying, just a relaxing evening being truly pampered. Also, I must give kudos to the bartender (sorry, I never got his name) who serves an ice cold Martini, straight up, and made with perfection! I am rather a Martini snob, and his were the equal of my own. No higher compliment can I give.

And yes, Doc Woodard, in between sets would come and sit and gab with us as well. He would ask about our musical preferences, and could play almost anything from the 50's to the 80's. (Except for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" -Wha?). Barb occasionally labors under the misguided delusion that she can't dance. Oh contraire, my darling! You can, and you will... and you will enjoy it a well. She actually moves rather well on the floor, all I need to do was supply a bit of a lead, and off we went to traverse the white pines floor, and swaying in time to the beat. At first, we were the only couple there, but soon enough we were joined by another couple, then more people started drifting in. By far, the couple with the most polish, and that seemed to just flow together naturally as they would Tango to almost any song was a nice surprise. Seems the gentleman in question was completely vision impaired! Watching the two of them was a treat for our vision, I assure you!

The genuine warmth of all who worked there was a charm. At one point, as I was heading out for a breath of fresh air, I opened the door for a man who entering and  pushing a wheelchair occupied by his handicapped son, with wife (dressed to the nines) in tow. As Barb and I finally were leaving, he approached us and introduced himself as the owner, and thanked us for coming. What a delightful evening! We will be back, and next time we'll bring friends. And as for the Cosmic Balance of enjoying ourselves too much, later that week we had a Power Failure, so it all works out in the end... 

As a small post script to this adventure, today when I started writing this blog a gentle soaking rain was blessing my lawn. Soon enough, as I was paying more attention to the words on my screen, and not to the pretty twinkling lights on my Satellite modem,  yes, my ISP was out! So you see, Life does balance out rather nicely! 
Oh, and the pictures of the Pileated Woodpecker were taken from my deck this morning. He's a regular customer at our fine eatery!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can You Hear It?

Shhhh... listen very closely.... can you hear it yet? There, ever so faintly, like the fog creeping in on kitty cat paws, it's the end of Summer. Oh yes, Miss Autumn is approaching, inching closer by the not-as-beastly-hot days and cooler nights. Not that Old Man Summer is completely gone yet, but his gnarled grip is loosening like a sailor's hand on the rope when his ship comes to dock.

Right now my lawn is drinking up a much needed gentle rain, and the air is a cool 75 degrees. Yes, cool compared to what it's been here of late. All of us in the Hundred Acre Woods By The Inland Sea agree that this has been the swelteringest Summer ever! Due to our Northern proscriptions of living, we are really constitutionally unable to handle many days above 80 degrees. (ok, for you fans that are metricificated, 82F = 28C, take it from there...) My lovely, and loved, and loving wife turns the most endearing shade of corpulent green after a couple of "daze" in the heat. As for me, my usually adroit, and sometimes clever, articulation rapidly degrades to that of a snarling animal caught in a trap, that is in the process of chewing it's own leg off. Really, we do much better with cold than heat out there.

As loyal Northern Michiganders, we eschew certain modern contrivances, such as central air conditioning, in our homes. Our pioneering spirit barely allows the use of indoor plumbing (only for sanitary reasons, not because we enjoy it) and we'll probably be asked to leave the neighborhood when the scandal of having a bedroom ac unit is discovered. At the very least we should be shunned by all polite, and sweaty, company as befits our particular sin. But we have also discovered that now, in our slightly-after-prime years, if we don't sleep well then we function at a level comparable to, at best, an amoebae.

Another portent from the Autumnal Goddess is the behavior of our favorite bird species of all, the charming and vociferous Hummingbird! When they first arrive in late Spring, cheerfully announcing their presence by flying right to where uh hum the feeders are supposed to be, our little ADHD driven buddies happily consume the nectar we provide. As the season progresses, and more flowers bloom, our hovering hummers tend to be rather more picky customers at the feeders. Just a week ago you would see a single male or female perch on the little feeder and sip quietly and contentedly. But now, they greedily perform acrobatic dog fights worthy of Snoopy and the Red Baron!  With the shift in time, each hummer has his, or her, own fave spot, and woe to the intruder that thinks to steal that sweet solution of life. And especially just before a storm, the antics really escalate! We have espied as many as seven hummers all juking and dodging each other just to make sure that someone else doesn't get "my" spot!

Other changes include watching the juvenile male Cardinal get his sinister, black mask and proud, red chest. Now if only his wings would turn all the way from brown, he would have it made. Also our beloved family of Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are no where in sight? Nor are the sporty Gold Finch family much evident now. Oh, and the In Laws have come and gone, another sure sign that Autumn is approaching. Our trees are just starting contemplate turning a new leaf, and the corn is sweet. 

So listen very carefully... hear it? Our delicious planet is grooving around the Sun, and Life once again goes thru the complete cycle. How we love each other is truly the sweet part of Autumn.

 Oh, the sunset picture is one I took, the top bit of art is from the Interwebby, and the three wonderful Hummingbird shots are from my dear friend Diane Land Cooper. She's a treasure!