2014-07-03 / Views

our opinion

Welcome back, and here’s what you missed

Most communities celebrate a new year on the day set aside for such revelry. That’s not always so in Leelanau, where the Fourth of July serves a two-fold purpose by recognizing the country’s birth and plunging the county full speed into the busy tourist season.

In Leelanau, fireworks signal a new year. It’s time to get to work, fellow members of the working class. You’ll be pushing overtime now to subsist through winter.

And to fudgies and summer people — both are accepted terms here — welcome back. You’ll notice few changes on the Peninsula since you’ve been gone, but we haven’t stayed completely stagnant. Here’s what has happened:

 Hurray, we’ve got more farms. And we have mostly you to thank. The “local food” craze, which puts an emphasis on locally grown veggies, fruit and meat, wouldn’t survive without your influence. Yes, locals love a home-grown tomato, but their consumption couldn’t justify the new, small farms that are springing up to supply farmers markets, restaurants and retail outlets. The number of farms in the county grew from 449 to 494 between 2007 and 2012, and their combined size grew by nearly 4,000 acres. We bet the numbers are even higher today. That’s delicious news.

 We’re older, and there aren’t enough young ones to fill our places. Local school districts are competing for a shrinking number of students. And families looking for bright financial futures aren’t moving in.

That trend is not new, but it’s beginning to hit critical mass. We need some people to move here before they retire to help take care of all the retired people. Please say you’re interested.

 M-22 between Omena and Northport is under construction, and a mess. But the wait in traffic will be worth it, as Northport has undergone a near-complete transformation. Why, the village has a bowling alley, and a 9-hole golf course is expected to open later this month. The transformation offers proof that communities with older people can start anew.

 That controversial, paved trail in the Lakeshore is turning out to be very popular. People love it, environmental impact and all. The trail offers proof that biking can be social and physical — and proof that the National Park Service truly does like to see people use their own land.

 Our lakes still vary in color between sky-blue and turquoise. Our hills still brim with forests, orchards and vineyards. And you’ll still need to arrive early for a dinner seat at a restaurant. Beauty, it seems, has many followers.

 Pardon locals if we shake with each cold front moving through. We’ve survived the toughest winter since at least 1959, and probably much longer. About 264 inches of snow — 22 feet, and yes we were counting — leaves a body punch-drunk.

 So we welcome summer — and you — to Leelanau County.

Wrapping up the Declaration

“When in the course of human events ...” begins the Declaration of Independence. The opening lines to the historic document are taught in high school history, and its first paragraph is often memorized and repeated.

But how does the Declaration, dated one day and 238 years ago, end? Read on:

“We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold (our British brethren), as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

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