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A Week of Celebrating Independence

Patch columnist commemorates the Fourth of July with a bang.

I was one of many who decided if July 4 was being celebrated on a Wednesday, I might as well make a week of high-fiving our country’s independence. Gas prices are lower for a change and so it was less expensive getting here, there and little bit of everywhere.

I started the week up north - first in central Michigan - on one of the many small lakes named after, well, bass.  I took our grandson Asher, who is now 2 ½ years old, out to the end of the dock on Bass Lake where my own children first learned to cast their bobber and worm laden hook toward, not into, the lily pads. At least in theory that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I’m fairly sure all four of our kids and our oldest grandson have caught the same 6-inch bluegill that lives in the lake and seems to always respond to the first cast. Don’t ask me why we named that fish Frankie or why it has never grown or learned not to take the bait. That same confused little fish, with the same markings, is in all the first-fish pictures.

Another perennial fish, aptly named Smarty, has also lived in Bass Lake and specializes in relieving our hooks of worms. Asher’s dad, Steve Crepeau, was a frequent victim on this visit. Asher, who viewed himself as a savvy veteran fisherman after his first catch, was sympathetic saying, “Grampie, we better help dad, he’s not catching anything!”

Lake Michigan, nature's air conditioner

We worked our way further north headed to our place in Empire. 

The Lake Michigan beach at Empire was mobbed with vacationers using the water as the natural air conditioner it was meant to be.  On the Fourth of July, the entire Leelanau County area was hopping with parades, fireworks, barbecues and campfires. We sat on the beach around fire and sang our traditional George M. Cohan medley of patriotic songs while we watched the sanctioned and unsanctioned fireworks continue for longer than we could remember.

Folks have sure embraced the new fireworks law that allows for all sorts of flaming objects to hurtle through the sky. While it would seem obvious, alcohol and things that go boom in the air don’t mix very well.

The fireworks didn’t seem to bother the abundant northern wildlife. We have a family of foxes living on some acreage we are farming. (That’s a story for another time: city kids learn about how Mother Nature can be a cruel partner.)  Every once in a while we see the little foxes frolicking around and I was able to click a couple of pictures. As you can see, foxes are beautiful animals. 

We also have a family of otters as regular visitors as they sneak over a sand dune into Lake Michigan for a daily swim.  We’re working on some pictures, but those otters are fast!

No fan of power outages

The second half of the week we planned on being back in Royal Oak, which unfortunately coincided with the big storm that blew through, leaving a lot of us without power and air conditioning in the middle of some very hot weather. 

Whoa, that was some heat. I felt like I was in slow motion living in tropical swamp. Trying to sleep in that heat without AC or a fan reminded me of being a kid on the top bunk in the tiny bedroom I shared with my sister Maryanne. 

I did get some quality reading done after I picked up the yard and thankfully the DTE crews had the power back on before expected. 

I actually read from beginning to end the Declaration of Independence, which I haven’t done since high school. It truly is a remarkable document and only takes a few minutes to read.  While our founding fathers were not specifically focused on simple personal freedoms - such as fireworks, helmet laws or packing heat on your hip – they did set the stage for a country where tyranny would not be accepted and freedom would be sought and held dearly. 

America is so deeply imperfect and yet we remain the choice of people around the world who yearn for the simple freedoms we take for granted. We have come a long way, with a very long way to go in being the country where freedom is available for all of us regardless of our race, sexual persuasion, religion or ethnic origins.

If you’re interested, the link to the Declaration is: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html   

Mom and son hit it off at Comerica Park

The heat persisted through this past weekend and I hesitated to honor my commitment to take my mom to a Tigers game at Comerica Park on Saturday.  But she insisted and I have to tell you people are remarkably considerate when a 90-year-old woman is leading you.  From preferred parking to the sea of Tigers fans parting like the Red Sea to allow us through the stadium, to the solicitous ushers and vendors, we were treated like royalty. Luckily we were in the shade and there was a hint of a 91 degree breeze. Mom insisted we stay the entire game, which came down to a ninth inning strikeout before the game was decided 8-7 in the Tigers favor.

A stop at on the way home to put small burgers on top the ballpark hotdogs ensured a memorable mom and son outing in more ways than one.

As I type this column, the heat wave has broken and it’s a beautiful Michigan morning. It was a heckuva wonderful week and I’m grateful for…everything!

It’s Monday: Let’s go!

Gerry Boylan is the author of the novel Getting There and the short story collection, Gerry Tales. Both can be found at the Yellow Door in Berkley, Michigan and Amazon.com in both book and eBook formats. 

Michael B July 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
A real live nephew of my uncle. Sammy.
Cindy La Ferle July 10, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Nice column, Gerry, with apt reminders of what's beautiful about Michigan -- and our whole country!
Terri Downs July 10, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Thanks for a great read, Gerry. Struck a chord with me, very poignant! LOVED: "America is so deeply imperfect and yet we remain the choice of people around the world who yearn for the simple freedoms we take for granted." Just saw a bumper sticker this week that said, "No, I wasn't born in this country... but I got here as fast as I could..." Made us smile and wave at the driver. Also, I related to the part about taking your 90-year-old mother to the ballgame. We took our 82-year-old mom to a Griffins hockey game last year in GR. We got "upgraded" to seats on the glass and a player threw a puck over the glass for my mom. She was so excited! Thank you again, you are a really great writer! Terri D
Gerry Boylan July 12, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Thanks for the comments all...I do enjoy writing this column!

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