Count Your Blessings: 75 Things to be Thankful for (in Michigan)
Aah, November in metro Detroit. For many Michiganians, it’s time to start counting down the months until the gray sky fades, but that’s where we come in. Assembled are 75 things that will make you happy you’re here — even if it is winter in Michigan. (Volunteer to give the blessing at the holiday table using this crib sheet)
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1. The Michigan-Ohio State game forecast wasn’t looking good for the Wolverines early in the season, but underdog Michigan has proved capable of inducing fatal choking in the Buckeyes on dozens of occasions, so keep your fingers crossed. This year’s meeting, on Nov. 18, takes place in Columbus, so if you go, the usual warning applies: Wear your bulkiest maize-and-blue clothes — they hide the body armor.
2. Many cities have little to cheer about when it comes to pro sports, but we do. Granted, the Lions need work. But the Red Wings and Pistons have had terrific teams for years. And the once-toothless Tigers have roared back under Jim Leyland. The Shock have netted another championship, too.
3. Cheer them on, anyway. It’s the annual national holiday broadcast of Detroit’s biggest turkey of all, the Detroit Lions.
4. No. 19. Is there another? The Captain was here. And we’re not talking Morgan. This one’s even being retired in January 2007.
5. There are more registered bowlers in the state of Michigan than anywhere else in the country, but for this bowling season we’re not talking about strikes or a perfect game. Whether it’s the Wolverines, Spartans or the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field, from mid-December through the National Championship Game football, fans gear up for the grueling indoor sport marathon — college football and its Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
6. Buck hunting is one of the state’s appeals for rugged residents with a taste for game. Nov. 15 is the date regular deer firearm season begins. Our own Motor City Madman Ted Nugent is a bow-hunting nut and one of the sport’s most outspoken advocates.
7. Michigan novelist Jim Harrison once wrote an essay called Ice Fishing, the Moronic Sport. We must have plenty of morons, then, attracted to the admittedly eccentric charms of drilling an auger hole, dropping a line and waiting for a winter-drowsy fish to find it. Better have another shot of warming whiskey and think about it.
8. Snow got you down? Hey, it’s nearly winter, so get used to it and be glad we don’t have to shovel as much as some cities. Detroit’s average snowfall is 41.3 inches, which is nothing compared with Buffalo (93.6 inches) or Duluth (80.6 inches). Even Cleveland (57.6 inches) and Milwaukee (47 inches) get dumped on more.
9. Instead of whining about the cold weather, join forces with it and go ice skating — outside. There are few things more invigorating than racing around the rink under a flake-filled sky, scarf flapping behind you and razor-sharp blades leaving a comet of ice shavings behind you. Take a spin at Campus Martius or any number of outdoor rinks in the area.
10. Cashmere used to be for rich Grosse Pointe debutantes only, but in recent years it’s gone positively democratic. We’re not sure why, but soft cashmere sweaters — the best balm for winter winds and weary skin — has never been so ubiquitous and affordable. We’ll take a simple V-neck in black, please.
11. Thankfully — if the snow is exciting to you — winter goes on and on and on here in the Mitten State. Some of our biggest snowfalls have been in April.
12. It’s a good time to be grateful for family, so dig for your roots. The Burton Historical Collection at Detroit’s Main Library boasts it has one of the most extensive genealogical collections in the country.
13. Experience spring without having to split for Florida. It’s always lush and green at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle. There’s a bountiful display of palms, ferns, cacti and one of the largest collections of orchids in the country.
14. Whether Gordon Lightfoot’s mournful ballad leaves you weepy or gets on your last nerve, you can still pay respect to the lost crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald every year in “the musty old hall in Detroit.” The Mariners Church of Detroit remembers the crew of the Fitz, and pays homage to all lost Great Lakes sailors, at a special service every November. (See marinerschurchofdetroit.org for details.) This year they add the Rev. Richard Ingalls, the man who tolled the bell 29 times on Nov. 10, 1975; he died in April.
15. Before it gets too cold, take a walking tour of the city. Avoid kvetching about how many historic buildings have been razed and focus instead on what’s been salvaged and restored, including Orchestra Hall, the Dime Building, the Detroit Opera House, the Kales Building — and the imminent refurbishment of the Book-Cadillac Hotel.
16. Founded in 1965 by the renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, the Charles H. Wright African American Museum is the largest museum dedicated to black culture and history in the world. It houses more than 30,000 artifacts and archival materials and is home to the Blanche Caggin Underground Railroad Collection, Harriet Tubman Museum Collection, Coleman A. Young Collection and the Sheffield Collection. Take in some of the scope of Wright’s vision.
17. When the snow falls through the openings in the $16-million Gateway Bridge, you’ll find a bit of cool sensory overload happening around the giant blue monstrosity that welcomes visitors to Detroit. The first arched bridge in Michigan, it peaks at 70 feet above I-94 and 87 feet above Telegraph. As long as we’re giving thanks, the same goes for Allen Park’s enormous tire, a glorious tribute to the Motor City that originally appeared as a Ferris wheel at New York’s World’s Fair in 1964.
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