‘Michigan, My Michigan.”
That’s the refrain of a song widely (but inaccurately) believed to be our state song. Sung to the tune of “Oh Tannenbaum,” the lyrics were originally composed in 1862 but recast in 1902 by Douglas Malloch to include the fine lines:
“The whisper of the forest tree
The thunder of the inland sea
Unite in one grand symphony
Of Michigan, my Michigan.”
Recently, my wife, Kathy, our black Labrador, HomeTown, and I drove back home from our cabin on the south shore of Lake Superior. It’s a long drive — eight hours, if you put the pedal to the metal —and it gave us lots of time to reflect on the wonders of Michigan, Our Michigan.
The day before we left, just as we were eating lunch on the porch, we looked up over the river that runs in front of our cabin just in time to see the flash of white head and tail of a mature bald eagle sail by, brilliantly lit against the clear deep blue sky.
Once on the verge of disappearing in our state, the eagles have come back now that use of DDT, the insecticide that weakens their eggs, is banned.
The moon was full our last night at the cabin, and as we walked out into brightly lit woods — swatting the innumerable mosquitoes that have infested our damp state this summer — we heard the “hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo-hoo” of the resident great horned owl, calling to find a mate. The wind came up just a little, and all we could hear was the faint, faint whisper of the breeze through the white pines.
Nothing else. Yes, there can be a lovely sound of silence, here in Michigan, My Michigan.
We were on the road the next day, with a stiff wind from the south kicking up little whitecaps as we crossed over the majestic Big Mac and counted the northward-bound cars from out of state, filled with folks eager for their own time Up North.