I arrived on Sunday afternoon with my zoo and a month’s worth of stuff. The little lake house where I’m staying exceeded my expectations. (A) It’s not little so it has tons of room, and (B) the family welcomed me with open arms and lots of food. I had dinner with them Sunday night although Sunday – and even Monday to some extent – was a blur. I felt like I was in a drug-induced stupor after all the tasks of the last three weeks and the driving for three days. And I really needed home-cooked food.
After leaving Memphis on Saturday morning, I drove through the woods and fields of Arkansas, Missouri, and Southern Illinois, but there was nothing but cornfields and soybeans the rest of the trip. When I first moved to the Midwest, I was shocked at the farmland although I’d studied about heartland agriculture in U.S. history. It took me by surprise that there was so much of it. After I moved away, I missed it. I watched Hoosiers a few months after I landed in Memphis, and I remember my heart aching for that corny landscape that I had grown to love.
I’m at Dewey Lake in Dowagiac MI. Lacking the cypress trees and mud of Louisiana lakes, Michigan lakes have homes built on every inch of lakefront. I am always reminded of Garrison Keillor‘s Prairie Home Companion radio show when I’m walking around on the lakefronts in Michigan. Although Keillor was from Minnesota, his stories resonate with images of the Midwest and days on the lakes up here. A fiend of mine in Tennessee had recordings of those radio shows, and we’d listen to them around our campfires. What I’m remembering is what I envisioned those nights as I’d never seen it in person.
My commute to work is about 30 minutes, and the landscape is all farmland. you couldn’t throw a rock and not hit a farm stand, and the only time traffic slows is when a tractor pulls out into the road. I’ve been lost at least 10 times on these back country roads, but it is so pretty I don’t even care. Yesterday, I stopped at a couple of farm markets to do my grocery shopping, and I got almost everything I need for the week. Between the farmers and the Amish, the locals are pretty self-sustaining – in the summer. After October, I’ll have to find a regular grocery.
The Browns, my friendly hosts, are a family of 10 siblings who own and have rented the three little houses on the “compound” to visitors for over 11 years. Luckily for me, they stopped renting mid-August, and this place was available. They all live in Chicago or New York but come over here frequently since this was their business. At least one or two of my hosts have been on the compound since I’ve been here, and, from what I understand, they kidnap Ashok while I’m at work. She’s been taken for boat rides and walks and just general hanging out in the big house. With the long commute, she’s at home longer than usual, so I’m glad they are entertaining her.
Work is good. I’m still adapting and getting to know the culture and my role. I don’t ever have to leave the building which is not necessarily my preference, but it’s easier for now. Eventually I’ll get out and, after I get my house, I can actually go home if I want. Luckily they have lots of healthy options in the cafeteria, and the green tea latte downstairs is really good.
My time and energy are stretched right now. I haven’t made plans yet with my friends here. I need to get my roots sprouted a little before I can start planning a lot. We got past the inspection contingency on the house yesterday, and I hope to close on September 9. It seems close, but even if it’s in the general vicinity of that date I will be happy. While this place is lovely, I want my my own little spot in St. Joseph.
Happy Hump Day from Michigan, y’all!