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Tuesday, January 4, 2011



Tuesday, 10:00 AM. 12.5 degrees, up from 3.5 degrees earlier. It is partly cloudy, wind SW, calm at ground level with clouds moving quickly in the upper atmosphere. The barometer predicts snow.  We arrived home yesterday evening about 6:00 PM.  It looks like some snow melted while we were gone and perhaps little new snow fell.  There is still plenty of snow cover left. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and southern Wisconsin were without snow as we drove back from Columbus.  On the way there we ran into some icy rain across the UP  but driving was O.K. in the automatic 4-wheel drive, which works exceedingly well.  The UP was quite beautiful with hills and trees sparkling with ice and frost. Overheard in Bill’s Restaurant somewhere along M28 in the UP, as a grizzled old guy chatted with the young waitress: “Yup, high school was the best three years of my life.  But by then I was thirty, and it was time to move on.” Ah, Upers!
    The Mackinac Bridge was a magnificent sight as we crossed into Michigan’s Lower Peninsula at dusk, bedecked as it was with red, green and blue lights which one might think purposely strung for the holiday season.  The upper half of lower Michigan is always surprisingly remote and wild, the oaks, pines, and lakes and bogs reminiscent of parts of northern Wisconsin.  Further south the countryside becomes first agricultural and then more and more urban, and the radio announces Detroit with hip-hop music and black talk radio, which we often find extremely interesting,  exhibiting social and political commentary which is unexpected and often radically different from expectations.
    Crossing into northern Ohio the landscape becomes rural again, with a lot of farming interspersed between medium sized cities cities and small towns.  Off the I system, it is not unusual to see Amish farms, and their characteristic buggies and wagons trotting along on the road shoulder.  Ohio is neither east nor west, north nor south, urban nor rural. I cannot think of a state which is more of a mix of Americana, including its politics, which makes it a bell weather state in national elections. Even its weather is middle of the road.  The temperature was 60 degrees on New Year's Day.
    We enjoyed the five years we lived and worked in Ohio, but if the state is an amalgam of many things American it also seems rather bland, as there are few extremes to liven things up.  We had a great visit with daughter Greta and her friends in Columbus and we did a few chores around her house. On the way home we breezed through downtown Chicago (always unpredictable)and stopped for an overnight visit in Racine with old friends Tom and Barb. The only wildlife of consequence we saw on our trip was a lot of hawks, mostly red tails, sitting on fence posts and in trees, looking for a meal in the snow-less countryside.  Now it’s time to fill the bird feeders and the wood box, pick up the mail and get back to what passes for normal in Bayfield.  I have some other observations which I will post tomorrow.

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