I find Michigan to be a strangely lovely location in which to live. Not that Ann Arbor is any measure of the state. But the surrounding hills and trees and scrub and farmland are stunning if you are driving home from Lansing at 1:30 a.m., with a cigarette tipped out the open window. If you are paying attention to the shade of the sky and the moon behind the clouds, to the layers of grey land and branch and fog wrapping itself around you. If you are playing R.E.M.'s Texarkana and Country Feedback in a row, with the ice reaching its way inside the collar of your coat, with the fields stretching their stalk flats out on your either side. If you are breathing in the air you breathe, half and all awake, pajamaed and heavy-socked and Birkenstocked. If you are looking and your eyes are even open.

This is where I live; I cannot live in the city. Ann Arbor is full of trees, and that helps. You can walk up the street collecting leaves this time of year, filling your pockets with crackling things. You can leave the window open and hear the front yard rustling all night in your sleep. You can lie under the trees nearly anywhere (well, anywhere outdoors) on campus. You can walk down to the river, to Island Park, and swing until your legs ache and your head spins from too much leaning back upside down. You can eat a sandwich and torture the ducks with the crusts. I like ducks. You can lean over the rail of the bridge and play Pooh sticks by yourself.

Or you can get in the car, the Michigan patented method of travel. You can go up the highway like a winged terror, like a ghost, like a man ambling with an apple cart.

I used to live in Cleveland, and would come up to Ann Arbor to visit every other weekend. I came up the other highway, up the Ohio turnpike, replete with police officers and ever-changing construction patches. I would stare at the fields and the sun and the barns, thinking how beautiful northern Ohio was at 4:30 every day, how the clouds dipped low over the horizon like islands.

Then I moved here, and although the terrain is exactly similar, and highway 23 much more crowded than I-80, although the sun sets over the low hills like it sets over the same low hills that flatten their way into Ohio, Michigan suddenly became much more beautiful than anything in Ohio. It is still.

reposted from The Everything People Registry : United States : Michigan, as indirectly suggested by Apatrix.