My Northern Limits
Are you a leaf lemming? You know who you are. Around this time of year your internal nav system directs you to travel north to look at the turning leaves. It doesn’t seem to matter how far north you live..you need to go even north-er.
When I lived in Tucson, Arizona it made sense to travel north to the White Mountains or to Flagstaff since Tucson is in the desert and there are no leaves. Although the fools from whom we bought our little adobe home idiotically planted a mulberry tree in the front yard. The poor thing had a few limp leaves, but they never turned anything except crispy in the hot desert sun.
But when we moved to Atlanta, one of most lush cities in America, did I start to scratch my head over the annual migration north to look at leaves turning colors when you could sit on your back porch or patio with a cold beverage and see all you want. Hell, you could watch ‘em turn, fall and then go ahead and rake the suckers without leaving your leaf lair. But no, you were compelled to get in the car and travel to north Georgia or up to the Smokies to witness the natural pigment purging. Yes, those areas are quite scenic and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone their right to travel there. I’m just saying if you want to see orange or yellow leaves there are plenty nearby, or next to a tanning plant, except those leaves turn colors in the summer and spring too.
Now..let’s take the premise to the nth degree. In 1989 we moved more than 700 north to the Detroit area. That’s north, baby! But obviously not north enough. First of all, we quickly learned that Michiganders are obsessed with traveling Up North, which seems to be anywhere north of Bay City, or the nearest Gander Mountain store. They travel Up North year ‘round because evidently the doors on their real homes automatically lock each Friday at 4 p.m. rendering their keys useless. No place to go, but Up North.
So it was no surprise that come fall we were told you had to go Up North to marvel at the turning leaves. “But we used to go north to north Georgia and the Smokies to look at the leaves. We’re more than 700 miles north of that and you’re telling me we have to travel still further north to see the damn things cough up their chlorophyll?”
That had me wondering where year ‘round residents of Up North go to see the leaves turn. Then it occurred to me. Of course. That’s why we have the Upper Peninsula.