Today marks the birthday of Michigan, where 176 years ago, Andrew Jackson signed the state into the Union. As a native Michigander, I wonder about how often people think about the unique features of this place. I suppose a birthday is as good as time as any to reflect back on what the area means to you. This time of year, especially this last week with sub-zero temperatures, probably has many thinking they wished they were somewhere else. I find myself also thinking that sometimes during the winter. Snow and ice can bring great beauty and unique landscapes to explore, although I think everyone reaches that threshold when they can’t wait for signs of spring.
I took some time to read and refresh myself on some of the geological features of the state. The state’s “motto” is “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice” which I must have forgotten along the way. Translated from Latin it means “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” And when you think about it, this state has a heck of a lot of peninsulas other than the two most commonly referred to Upper and Lower.
The Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City are known for their density of wineries, defying the previous proclamations that you can’t grow good wine grapes in this area. The Thumb area gives us that feature that enables us to quickly use our hands as a reference map, darting into Lake Huron, and surrounded by the wreckages of many ships fallen to the storms of the Great Lakes. The Keeweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. hosts beautiful scenery of Lake Superior and numerous waterfalls, and the only place on Earth where 97 percent pure copper can be economically recovered. The Garden Peninsula also in the U.P., as part of the Niagara Escarpment, has limestone cliffs overlooking Lake Michigan.
No wonder Michigan has the most lighthouses of any state as well as a large number of shipwrecks. There are plenty of land features to run aground on. With at total of at least 7 peninsulas, the latin saying certainly makes sense, although I am not sure the Great Lakes mariners of times past consider all of them “pleasant.”
It seems every year I discover a new place I never knew about here, evidence that there is certainly a lifetime of exploration ahead.