A different pace for folks Up North



As I write this I sit on the porch of our rented log cabin-style lodge overlooking Perch Lake in Clare County. Yes, I’m on vacation but I thought I’d take some time and write this while my memories of vacation are still fresh.

We came up here to get away for a week and enjoy a little slower pace of life, not too far from home but far enough to escape the hustle and bustle of the Flint-area.

Having spent the week here it has given me a chance to see that our neighbors to the North are just a little different than us. There’s a different world and pace here, one we don’t get to enjoy too often back home. Folks here also sometimes have a different way of doing things.

For instance:

When we were driving down the road to get to the lodge we are staying at, there was an orange sign posted saying: ROUGH ROAD. Bracing ourselves for potholes, we were surprised when the “rough road” turned out to be a slightly bumpy patch in the lane. We looked at each other and snickered. “I laugh at your rough roads! I’m from Flint.”

This is my first trip to Amish country. In all my years I’ve never seen the Michigan Amish. When I saw an Amish man riding his horse and buggy through the town of Clare, I whipped out my cellphone to take a picture. Anita warned me, however, the Amish don’t like having their photos taken. So I caught a fleeting shot of the buggy after it passed. Not trying to be disrespectful, but it’s not every day we see a man in a black hat driving an 1800s style buggy drawn by horses. We also took a tour of some local Amish businesses and stopped at a general store located on one of the Amish Farms in Clare. As we walked into the market I noticed it was not lit and there was no one at the register. “Must be closed,” was my first thought — then it dawned on me “Amish people don’t use electricity.” We shopped a few minutes and it seemed no one was tending to the store. At one point a barefooted Amish boy with a big straw hat ran past us, but he seemed to pay us no attention. Then we went to checkout and a young girl in a bonnet took our money and we were on the way. A sign as you come into the store summed up their lack of vigilance over the store – “Stealing may be a crime, but it is also a SIN.”

Nearly every mile driving into Clare there is a car repair place on the side of the road. Seems almost as if there are more repair shops than cars at times.

Every town has a past, sometimes a shady past. We learned on this trip the Hotel Doherty in Clare has operated there for decades and was the scene of a mob killing back in the 1930s by the notorious Purple Gang from Detroit. It seems gangsters liked to come Up North to lay low.

There’s a bakery in Clare called Cops and Doughnuts owned and run by the local police who saved the place from going out of business. I just wonder how they manage keeping product in the counters when they are their own biggest customers.

That’s about it for this vacation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll get back to a little R&R. ggould@mihomepaper.com

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