By Deb Baker
I grew up in the Michigan U.P. where my Yooper mystery series takes place. When I was looking for material for my first book, I thought my childhood was just like everyone else’s. But I gave it some thought and decided it had been a little unusual.
We had bugs the size of Volkswagen Beetles. One year my grandmother’s house was pre-ner plastered with bay flies. Once when we were picking blueberries in our secret place, I spotted a spider the size of a half-dollar (remember those coins) and beat it out of there. We really do vacuum up those black flies that swarm in the windows in early spring. Wood ticks don’t fly but they do leap at you from trees.
Saunas and bars are our social hubs in the same way you’se guys enjoy fitness centers and coffee shops.
We can tell the difference between a squirrel, a chipmunk, and a skunk.
Men don’t remove their baseball hats except for church.
Women hunt and fish and make a point of out-doing the men.
During deer hunting season we have to dress our dogs in orange and even then some Troll (that’s what we call Lower Michigan residents because they live below the Mackinac Bridge) will shoot at them.
Upper Michigan should have been its own state or at the very least should have tagged onto Wisconsin. We root for the Packers and make pilgrimages to Green Bay to honor St. Vincent Lombardi, who coached da Packers.
We drive on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior in the winter and we all know what black ice is. Its ice camouflaged as black top. If you hit it, you can kiss your hinder goodbye.
We eat anything and everything – Trenary toast, Cudighi (a sausage invented in Ishpeming), Pasties (not the things exotic dancers wear). We love sugar doughnuts and coffee, lots and lots of it. Mackinac Island fudge. Roadkill (but only if it’s fresh). Kalja (beer).
Yes, I considered all of this perfectly normal. So the next time you’re looking for something unique to write about, check out your own back yard.
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