Jul 8, 2006

The National Cherry Festival, Beaches, and Other Thoughts

(Traverse City, MI) On one level the 80th National Cherry Festival is just another crass marketing event designed to bring tens of thousands of tourists (like me) to the towns around the Grand Traverse Bay.

With lots of disposable cash.

And yet, it is clear that people in northern Michigan are proud of this hokey, homespun event, and that is the real charm of the Cherry Festival.

There are authentic slices of Americana like the Pit-Spitting Contest, in which contestants line up to break the world record of 63 feet, or the Ultimate Air Dogs competition, where daredevil canines bid to see who will be the top flying pooch.

My natural tendency is to avoid crowds, preferring instead to read a good book or work in my garden. Yet even I, a misanthropic curmudgeon, found the Waconia (MN) Marching Band's performance in the Cherry Festival Parade to be entertaining.

Not once did I get the itch to reach for my laptop and scan for wireless signals. The computer stayed behind, and life was excellent, even if I couldn't sell a story to pay for my trip north.

Walking along a deserted Lake Michigan beach made the trip worthwhile - miles upon endless miles of beautiful scenery without the slightest hint of the presence of human activity.

Some people get recharged from social interaction, but I find energy and inspiration in periods of isolation. I can sit on an empty beach for hours and be completely entertained if I have a pad of paper and a pen.

I am happy to interact with other people, but I find large groups to be physically and creatively draining.

Give me an uninhabited beach or desolate forest, and I am content.


Anonymous said...

Yuck - could never go to one of those crappy tourist traps - give me the beach.

Kate said...

You walked on a stretch of beach I'm very familiar with. It's a good place. A place to get centered again. The size of the water reminds you how small and transient you are. And this is a good thing. We are truly a single entity with a specific amount of time.

Makes you come home with a determination to do something with it :-)

Kate said...

Oh - if you want to see something fantastic go to the Paradise, Michigan Annual Wild Blueberry Festival.

Dad and I were up there in 1996. We showed up tired and worn out. About 11 at night. A little old lady at the last roadside motel gave us the last room. She went to their kitchen and made burgers, maybe a pound each with fresh onion and tomato.

She knocked on the door at six the next morning and said sharply, "Come to breakfast or leave hungry".

She put a plate down in front of us - dinner sized, with a stack of wild blueberry pancakes. Maybe a foot high. We ate until we couldn't eat another bite.

When we were leaving, she ran out to our car and knocked on the window to give us a 'traveling kit'. Blueberries, cold ham sandwiches and two Cokes.

liberal_dem said...

Enjoy, Mike, these times are fleeting.

Hooda Thunkit said...


Surely you jest. Although that would explain all of the reading that you seem to be doing ;-)

I hope that you were refreshed by your (all too brief) visit amongst the common folks :-)

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

You may enjoy this analysis of introverts, Mike. Fits me to a T, now I just need to get all my extrovert friends to read it. :)