Someone turned the switch, and, without so much as a fare-thee-well, summer was gone. One day last week, on a business errand that had me paddling round the anonymous Northwest suburbs of Detroit I noted my on-dash thermometer said, ugh, 100 degrees exactly. Then, on my return trip home, the wind picked up, the sky turned steel-colored, the school buses were forming in flocks, and it started to rain. Sideways. Summer ended with a mighty, crashing coda. Soon, the fudgies would form up, pack their cars, and head for home.
Here in the north country, we (somewhat derisively) call the swarms of downstaters “fudgies”–, that is, the refugees from the auto plants, and the faceless bureaucracies, jobbers, and so on, that swell the motels, storm the beaches, and clog the roads during the 90 days of summer, and whom are more kindly referred to as “tourists”. The etymology of the term arises from the tourists typical display stance of standing slightly hunched and akimbo, nose protruding with a single bead of sweat forming at the pointed terminus, lower body sporting a pair of seldom-worn jean-shorts, with a stretched and tucked-in polo-shirt, holding a camera and box of Murdick’s Fudge, which they purchased from one of the dozens of Murdick’s Fudge places that dot northern Michigan. Oftentimes, Fudgies can be spotted trotting back to their normal habitat, which is their late-model Trailblazer, the car-alarm for which is blaring obnoxiously as they juggle both camera and fudge to find the key-fob to turn the blasted thing off.
Fudgies also plow about $12 Trillion into our local economy (-including mine), so, naturally the jesting about them only goes so far. And I grow misty as I watch their taillights recede into the distant southern horizon. Another Summer, shot to hell.
I was young when I started my business here in the North. I am 47 now, and my two boys that were once 3 and 1 are now 10 and 8. The last thing I remember, I was dropping the oldest off at his Nursery School for his First Day of School, resplendent in his Winnie The Pooh coat. Last week, he started Fourth Grade, finding all the sartorial splendor required was a U of M sweatshirt. He was born under the stars of Bill Clinton. He is shedding his downy feathers under Barack Obama’s.
The seasons are going by too fast, the days of sunshine are fading, and the hip and chick have become stale and cliched. Of course, the fudgies will return next spring, as they’ve done since Henry Ford convinced all the residents of Dearborn that Traverse City was the place to be in the high summer after Memorial Day. Hopefully, by that distant holiday at the end of May, 2011, Barack Obama’s vaporous visions of the proletariat marching serenely into the valley of a socialist utopia will be dashed by the by the populist uprising I feel is in the wind. And talk of another “election cycle” will begin apace. But, my shoulders slump a bit as I realize that each “cycle”, so easy to talk and ruminate about, is actually more glorious, sunshiny days spent here within the mortal coil, that I can never reclaim. Each day between the bookends of “election cycles” are divine gifts I cannot squander, but do so, seemingly, remorselessly.
Yes, another “election cycle” will spin by in November, and, the Conservatives will savor a fleeting moment of righteous victory. And, another “election cycle” will begin again.
But, by then, I’ll be 48. And my kids will be 11 and 9. Farewell, Fudgies.