"Thumb Comes Alive"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, July 15, 2017

Michigan is a great state for vacationing — and “Pure Michigan” billboards and messages all over the country invite everyone to enjoy it.

Here in the Thumb, we just experienced the biggest holiday of the summer, Fourth of July, and had a tremendous influx of visitors. Many small businesses depend on big holiday attendance of tourists to fill their coffers to tide them over during the slower times.

Everyone who came enjoyed all the great things the area offers. They walked the docks and viewed all the boats that travel to our harbors. While at the harbor, they encountered fishing boats returning to shore with anglers happy to show off their catches, which were great because the walleye were hitting. Many folks from the city just like to drive the shoreline viewing the big lake. Various watercraft can be seen traveling near shore. Further offshore, large yachts are seen cruising along.

Some people took to the back roads, where they saw animals, tractors, plows and crops bursting from the earth. Farms with cattle often allow the animals to graze in fenced-in areas close to the road, to the delight of city people who have never seen a cow or steer close up. As they drive along, they may see a herd of buffalo, a few lamas or the more diminutive alpacas. An ostrich may also be sighted along the route, plus the occasional donkey and horses taking their leisure. As people travel deeper into the country roads, they may encounter the local wildlife, like deer, turkeys, rabbits and raccoons. An occasional fox can be sighted, but they are very elusive and don’t display themselves often. Care must be taken because the animals consider the back roads their home and will dart into the roadway.

Some of the older farm houses — a few with century plaques on display — are meticulously groomed and ready for photos to be taken. They have shutters on the windows and fancy roofing décor. On newer homesteads, homes and outbuildings like barns and sheds, are all matched in color and design.

The ride along the highways and byways of the Thumb may take you past a carnival or fair, even an annual festival. One of the features you might see is a display of antique and classic cars. Many are in pristine condition because they are kept in barns and meticulously cared for. They are driven out to attend gatherings held at restaurants and they join parades during holidays. The owners love to show off the work they have done restoring their old beauties.

Although the summer is well underway and the fireworks have heralded the beginning of July, there is still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. As the big crowds thin out, summer residents settle in, and farmers have their crops underway, early harvest of large gardens will begin. Farmers markets and roadside stands will begin to offer fresh veggies and fruits, all the best to be found anywhere. The early crop harvest will also join in and supplies will not last long so get the canners warmed up.

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers corn and carrots all disappear quickly into the hands of those prepared for them. They will produce wonderful, winter meals. Later, crops of apples will appear — every variety. They will be in big supply this year because last year’s harvest was sparse. Who would not enjoy apple pie from fruit fresh off the tree or a big dish of applesauce? I’m hoping the peach crop is plentiful because my favorite dessert is peach cobbler. Remember, canned peaches will last all winter — right next to the applesauce.

As I see it, no matter what activity you like, there is always something for everyone’s enjoyment in Michigan’s Thumb.

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