Reading Through Michigan

Today was a slower day, which I needed after helping EJ put up the fence around the garden yesterday. I couldn’t have worked outside even if I had wanted to because it rained off and on all day and was very humid. Thankfully, we have air conditioning. The weather cleared a little toward sunset, but more storms are moving in across Lake Michigan. Meteorologists say that we could get some severe storms during the night with high winds, hail, heavy rain, and the possibility of tornadoes. I hope we don’t get storms that are so severe they cause power outages or damage, but it’s nice to finally get a few days of rain after such a dry summer.

I didn’t well last night–I have struggled with sleep ever since JJ battled cancer in 2013-2014–so after EJ went to work, Hannah Joy and I went back to bed. I had a leisurely morning drinking coffee, using EJ’s computer while he was at work, and reading. After lunch, in a lull in the rain, I went to the post office to mail a package and then stopped at the local grocery store to buy some groceries. When I got home, I carried the groceries into the house and then put them all away–yelling at Hannah several times to get her nose out of the bags. She was particularly interested in the package of paper towels and was ripping open the bag when I stopped her. She loves eating paper towels and toilet paper.

I miss my laptop, which is still at the repair shop. I’m thankful that EJ so generously lets me share his laptop, but I miss my own laptop with its larger screen. I miss my own bookmarks and programs.

However, although I miss my laptop, I’m really enjoying reading books. I often buy used books at thrift shops or yard sales. If a book looks interesting, I buy it for those times when I really want something new to read. I always have a book nearby to read–in my purse or in the bathroom or wherever. Often I find new authors to enjoy–but even if I don’t like the book, it’s not like I paid a lot of money for it so I just donate it back to the thrift shop. My favorites I keep to re-read.

One of the used books I bought is a murder/mystery called The Hunting Wind by Steve Hamilton. I can’t remember when or where I bought the book, but I’m sure I bought it because the story was set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which I thought was cool. I was born, raised, and have lived all my life in Michigan, and I totally love my state. When I was younger, my friends used to tell me that I should work for Michigan’s tourist industry because of my love for Michigan. EJ says I’m “Michi-centric.” Anyway, without my computer, I have more time to read, so I searched through our home library and pulled out The Hunting Wind. I wasn’t sure I would like it, but I thought I’d give it a try.

I loved the novel. I loved it so much that when I discovered it is one of a series of nine books about the ex-cop, private investigator Alex McKnight, I started to buy them on Amazon. I’ve read three so far. I learned that the author has won many awards, and I can understand why. His books are well-written, interesting, and is sprinkled with a sense of humor.

One of the reasons that I’m enjoying the books is that, duh, it’s set in Michigan. Throughout the books, the main character, Alex McKnight, travels to many Michigan places: Paradise, Newberry, Hiawatha National Forest, “the Soo,” St. Ignace, Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Mackinac Island, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Montague/Whitehall, Cadillac, Lansing, Detroit, Jackson…I have lived near, worked in, shopped at, traveled through, or vacationed in all these places. It’s cool to read about these places that I am familiar with.

I also love the books because the author very vividly describes Michigan’s scenery, culture, and soul. I know these things he describes, I feel it deep down inside of me. Sometimes a scene is so well described that I read it aloud to EJ. Like this scene:

On the ride home, there’s a stretch on the main road where the trees open up and you get a great look at the lake. There wasn’t much moonlight coming through the clouds, but there was enough to see that the waves were getting bigger, maybe four or five feet. I could feel the truck, rocking in the wind as I drove. Somewhere out there, a good thousand feet under the waves, there were twenty-nine men still sleeping, twenty years after the Edmund Fitzgerald went down. I bet that night felt just like this one….

EJ and I have driven on nights like this. And every Michigan native knows the terrible story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down in Lake Superior during a terrible November gale.

I laughed in delight when I read a conversation in one of the books between Alex and an old Indian who hadn’t been in Michigan for 30 years. Michigan, by the way, has several Indian reservations. The old Indian begins:

“I know I’ve been gone a long time, but everybody on the plane was saying you guys have been having a big heat wave up here. People passing out on the street, having to go to the hospital…is that true?”

“It almost hit ninety a couple of days ago. So yes.”

“When I left Vegas, it was a hundred and fifteen. You realize you’re all pussies up here, right?”

“Come back when there’s six feet of snow on the ground,” I said. “We’ll see who’s a pussy.”

I laughed because I complain that I’m melting if the temperature goes much above 80. I can’t endure the heat but we Michiganders brag about our toughness in handling Winter weather. The author totally captured this about us.

I hate being without my laptop, but I’m really enjoying sitting down and enjoying Michigan through these books. I can’t wait to read the next one…


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