The Call of the Mild

Letter from the Editor

A  man I knew once offered this rather caustic visual from his teenage summers spent working at a Michigan resort frequented by wealthy Chicagoans: “The women arrived looking like hags and left as goddesses.”

The glowing (and ultimately damaging) effects of rays aside, summer does have the effect of turning back time — or at least it makes us yearn for the summer sidewalks and lawns of our youth.

This time of year, you don’t need a clock or a calendar to know the weekend is near. At midday Fridays, incoming work emails slow to a trickle as summer seduces even the most suited and tied among us.

We may be buffered by AC and heat, cars and roofs, but we remain primitive creatures, responding like ocean tides to nature’s cues.

So often, our idealized version of summer seems perpetually just out of reach. The days between the solstice and equinox have a way of evaporating — particularly as we all juggle heavier workloads, tighter wallets, and the limitations of hefty gas prices. What to do?

Think of vacation in terms of hours, like running out for recess in the “Five O’clock World, when no one owns a piece of my time.” Consider metro Detroit a vacation destination. Really.

Step outside your usual orbit and dine at a restaurant across town (we offer some “best” bets). Sip a Tom Collins or iced tea to the sounds of summer songs. Celebrate something. (This magazine is marking 15 years). Shelve your wireless devices and tell a story under the stars (click here for a little inspiration).

And if it rains (or not), take the children to see the animals at the DIA. That’s not a misprint, although the zoo is great, too.

Vacation can co-exist with our daily world. Too many children are being spoon-fed fun in the form of all-inclusive resort vacations with water-park rides for them and poolside cocktails for the parents. How many of those luxury-getaway kids grow up never seeing Belle Isle or the RiverWalk — or even the streets of another city?

In a refreshing embrace of accessible pleasures, the City of Birmingham is once again allowing ice-cream trucks on residential streets. Some communities, including Birmingham, are debating whether to allow food peddlers (hot-dog carts, for example) on downtown streets. A stumbling block is the potential competition they pose for nearby restaurants.

But if the goal is to make your town a vacation destination, food carts seem like a smart idea. A reader recently shared with us a recollection of 1940s Detroit, one in which “metal, heated pushcarts sold sweet potatoes, shrimp, and corn on the cob along John R.” Sounds like a place we’d like to visit.

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