Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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The Best of Northern Michigan is Still Out There

Robert Downes - March 4th, 2004
Each year I like to go winter camping in the Pigeon River Forest when the temperatures creep up past a balmy 25 degrees or so.
This year was no different. Although it rained all the way from Traverse City to the forest on the far side of Vanderbilt, the skies dried up and the snow started falling just after I arrived. By a lucky coincidence, three snowshoers from Charlevoix happened by as I was shoveling out a campsite and suggested that a snow cave might be a good way to go for the evening.
And they were right. After scooping out the center of a monster pile of snow and throwing some branches and a tarp over the top, I was snug as an eskimo pie in a Fridgidere that night, albeit in an arctic sleeping bag rated for -20 below zero. Out in the woods, only the deep hoot of a hunting owl haunted the night.
I love the Pigeon River Forest because it‘s one of the last wild places we‘re blessed with here in Northern Michigan. It‘s not quite “wild as the devil“ as young Ernest Hemingway claimed when flushed a bear while camping along the Black River in his teenage years -- the timber here is second growth from the lumberjack‘s axe and you can often hear the buzz of snowmobiles in the distance. But it‘s still wild enough for a city slicker like me.
Skiing along the next day, the top of a 100-foot red pine exploded with the sound of three huge turkeys taking flight. Later, a chickadee debated whether to land on my shoulder as I stopped for water running out of a pipe at a campground. And although I‘ve never seen an elk, their footprints often meander through the snows west of the Pigeon River. Each year I go back, hoping to spot the herd far out by Grass Lake or the lost ghost town of Cornwall, never really caring that I miss them. Those elk will provide a good excuse to go camping again next year. Or maybe to even hike the 75-mile High Country Pathway, which wanders around the forest between Atlanta and Wolverine.
I‘m tempted to say you don‘t know what you‘re missing, because the best of Northern Michigan is out where few people go: the Pigeon River Forest, the backcountry of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Lake Michigan‘s island archipelago and a half-dozen other places that will go unnamed. Many times I‘ve had virtually the whole of the Pierce Stocking ski trail at the Dunes or the Munsey Lakes Trail near Ranch Rudolf entirely to myself on a sunny day, knowing that the big box stores and malls in town are packed to the gills.
This isn‘t registered as a complaint -- it‘s just an observation that we live in a woodland paradise, blessed with some of the finest lakes, beaches and trails in the world, yet relatively few of us ever venture out to enjoy them. I know that I‘m 100 times more likely to see our local environmentalists at a coffee shop in town than I am in 10 years of hiking through the forests of the region or walking miles of empty beaches along Lake Michigan.
The same phenomenon is true for local entertainment. Years ago, I noticed that the same core group of 500 people or so turned out for all of the Interlochen shows, local plays and concerts in town -- same faces every time. That‘s still basically true, although their numbers have grown and different places have different constituencies. The crowd at Streeters, for instance, probably won‘t be in attendance the next time the Canadian Brass plays Interlochen, and vice-versa for the next time Static-X hits town. The only time you ever see an entire town in the region turn out for anything en masse is the Fourth of July fireworks.
It all gets down to different strokes for different folks. Each night on the evening news, I see hundreds of people enjoying local high school basketball, football and hockey games. I can‘t imagine attending such an event unless you had a child on the team, but high school sports are the main entertainment in our region outside of television, enjoyed by the majority of those who live here. That‘s what represents the “best“ for them -- a happy, safe place for kids to grow up, pursuing goals which are still as innocent and energetic as a bouncing ball.
I‘m often amazed lately that Northern Michigan hasn‘t become a complete wreck with all of the development that‘s gone on here over the past 10 years or so. Somehow, you can still find the good things about our region close at hand -- you can still see the good things we have so clearly. I‘m just glad, reflecting on this “Best of Northern Michigan“ issue, that we still have so many good things to go around.
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