Saturday, October 10, 2009

Michigan; A Primer

Good afternoon, audience! I am going to assume that it is afternoon outside your windows, wherever you are, because it's my favorite time of day. It is also afternoon outside MY windows as I am writing this.

It is also Michigan outside my windows. Inside, too, technically. You know Michigan? If you've been watching any news reports about the economy, I'm sure you've heard mention of my state. They usually represent it by showing a bunch of people in line at an unemployment office. It used to be by showing video of cars pinballing around on an icy stretch of road. Those were the days!

Regardless of the condition Michigan is in ("lousy"), I am still relatively proud to hail from it. In fact, this coming week, I will be embarking on a road trip to the Upper Peninsula (geographer's term for "upstairs") in order to capture its natural beauty with my digital camera. I set the camera to the Adobe RGB colorspace because I read that it has a wider grayscale gamut.

If I encounter any color, I can always change it.

What this means is that if I am unable to get to an Internet connection, Ambient Moronics will go on a brief hiatus while I'm burning petrol getting lost up there. I apologize to my reader.

So what exactly makes Michigan Michigan? Other than incompetent automakers? My trip up North will focus mainly on scenic vistas of natural splendor, so I shall mainly focus this post on that.

First, you have Michigan's wildlife. This consists almost entirely of ducks, sparrows and moose. I have provided a picture of a duck in order to illustrate this. You will note that the only other animals to appear in this documentary-quality photograph are other ducks. This is no accident, as Michigan's duck population is set to overtake its human one in 2011 if trends continue. They are everywhere; movie theaters, lakes, ponds, swamps, bars, clubs, rooftops, basements, convertibles and playgrounds. Their diet is 97% stale bread, 2% cigarette butts with the remaining 1% split between gravel and dead minnows. They have to compete with migrating flocks of seagulls for the cigarette butts, which is hilarious.

It is lucky for The Duck that he has a prodigious reproduction rate, as the vast majority of them die off when Old Man Winter comes stomping around, swinging his ice cane and shouting unpleasant things at the top of his snowy lungs. It is a common myth that ducks fly south for the winter. This is what the ducks would have you believe, but it is impossible for a bird to fly the distance needed to change climates.

Squirrels, on the other hand, are capable of making the trip. They just don't.

Those ducks that haven't fattened up on bread during the tourist season and gone into hibernation in their duck burrows inevitably perish. This cycle is nature's way, and it is strangely beautiful.

Given the peak seasonal size of the duck population, it is may seem odd that Michigan's leaders have selected the sparrow as the state bird. The reasons given on the Michigan state website, however, make a lot of sense.

The Sparrow's indomitable spirit and ability to thrive in any environment is a fitting homage to the Michigander's own resilience. Its stubborn refusal to relocate during the state's harsh winter months puts to shame all the pussies that spend those months in Florida. And like the cars built here, the Sparrow is ubiquitous, rust-colored, short-lived and spends a lot of time under gas station canopies.

Which brings us to the most rare of Michigan's creatures; the moose. Certain adorable skeptics have told me time and again that there are no moose in Michigan. "Honey," the skeptic has said, "that was a deer."

Preposterous. There are no deer in Michigan.

The moose makes its home in the remote, forested areas of the northeast. Subsisting on little more than dew and wisdom, the moose dispenses its knowledge only to those sophisticated enough to see the path of light they tread. Hunted to near-extinction by philosophers and new-age twits in the 1980s, their population has rebounded somewhat, but they remain scarce and well-hidden.

So where might you find this veritable Noah's Ark (or at the very least, Noah's Dinghy) of Michigan's fauna? Why, in Michigan's flora, of course! The state is home to a great many lakes, teeming with fish and aquatic moose. These lakes abut beaches replete with sticks. In fact, in the state's Stick Museum in Ann Arbor, one learns that Michigan has the greatest diversity of sticks in any of the Lower 48.

All of those sticks have to come from somewhere, and that is where Michigan's bountiful forests truly shine. Here, in these sun-dappled expanses of lush evergreenery, sticks grow by the truckload. They dapple the ground and the sides of old-growth timber like the dapples on the majestic dapplepotamus (extinct, sadly, since the 1700s). Dapple trees are particularly productive, resplendent with sticks year-round in addition to their delicious fruit. Friendly farmers with large dapple orchards often allow visitors during the harvest season, welcoming them to sample and purchase dapple cider and home-baked dapple pies. Dapple pasties are also available, but nobody ever gets within ten feet of them.

Well, folk, I hope you have enjoyed your little tour of Michigan and its splendidness! I shall return in mid-October, laden with pictures and chiggers, which I cannot wait to share with you all!


  1. Good afternoon, audience! as you can see, I am a duck!

  2. *dies*

    Glorious definitions of Michigan's grand diversity of fauna. I think the reason Ann Arbor has such famous sticks though, is that in addition to ducks, moose, and squirrel, we also have skunks, raccoons and a coupla possums. Even see a woodchuck now and again.

    Those moose though... large herds of 'em, right through town. I swear.

  3. It's Oregon outside my window, and the squirrels are driving me crazy. Also driving the local cats batty.

  4. Anonymous: How bully for you!

    Tart: You only have a couple of possums? I have a few here I'd be willing to donate. They could stay in the Stick Museum, lurking in one of the storage closets.

    Sheila: I bet Oregon is rather pretty as well. You have mountains there, correct? Michigan has...dunes. Which are to mountains what YouTube is to Blu-ray.


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