We spent a few days in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan this past week. One day Jim and I took off to explore some backroads. One of them led to a boat launch to this beautiful sandy-bottom lake. There were no houses on the lake and there was a sign that said catch and release fishing with only lures. There was a couple already there with their kayaks.
We commented on how beautiful the lake is and they said it is their hiding place. I apologized for finding them and their place, and they were gracious. They live in the area so they shared lots of interesting information about the lake, the storm damage from the night before, and what it is like living next to the government national guard training grounds. We also shared stories about getting wet while canoeing and loosing valuables. I sure wish kayaks had been available when we were younger, or maybe I wish I was agile enough to kayak now. My artificial knees make it hard to get my feet far enough under me to get out so I would have to roll over into the water. Not very graceful.
Our friend, Lynn, shared an interesting conversation she had with someone who hadn’t lived in Michigan. She was talking about going to the UP (Upper Peninsula) and the other person said something about the LP. Lynn had to stifle a laugh because she had never heard the Lower Peninsula referred to as the LP. Me neither. We live in the Lower Peninsula and go the the UP for vacations. I wonder if people who live in the Upper Peninsula refer to where we live as the LP.
There is a political/social history to these regions that is probably familiar to all territories. Before the Big Mac bridge was built in 1957 connecting the lower and upper, there was a ferry that made travel slow and expensive. The state capital, Lansing, is in the lower part of the lower peninsula and people in the UP felt very isolated both economically and politically. People especially on the western end of the upper peninsula have felt more connected to Wisconsin then to Michigan. They still do. I’ve been wondering if our references to these two regions reflects the fact that the lower peninsula is economically and politically more powerful or if it is just a pattern of speech that is reversed depending on where we live. Next time we visit the UP I’ll have to talk to some Yoopers to find out.