Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Up North Identities
First it must be noted that “Up North” depends on your starting point. For some the North begins at Clare or White Cloud, while for others anyone south of the Mackinac Bridge is a troll, and I don’t really know the distinctions used by the central part of the state or the northern Lake Huron shore. Here in the greater Grand Traverse region, the following terminology applies:
Fudgies are people here on vacation, either camping or staying in motels or with relatives or renting cottages. They watch fudge being made, buy it, eat it and take it home to friends. This term also applies on Mackinac Island. The local economy depends heavily on this group.
Summer people are those who have second homes here. In addition to spending summers Up North, they may also come for fall and winter holidays and Memorial Day weekend. This is another group that contributes mightily to northern livelihoods. Many summer people are city people in their other lives, hailing from Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati or even New York.
Permafudge used to be fudgies. Then they moved up here to live fulltime. They do not have second homes elsewhere.
Locals, whether permafudge or native, live here fulltime. Locals can go on vacation elsewhere, for long stretches of time, as many do several times a year, without ceasing to be locals.
Snowbirds claim a primary Up North residence but leave to spend the winter in second homes, most of these located in Florida, Arizona or Mexico. A few Northport summer residents only go “south” as far as Traverse City and are not called snowbirds, because, well, Traverse City gets plenty of snow and is definitely still Up North.
Natives were born here. A Traverse City native was born in one of two Traverse City hospitals or at home. A Northport native may have been born at home, in the hospital in Northport or in a hospital in Traverse City.
Native Americans have tribal affiliation, genealogical and usually official, most often with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
There is room in the Up North identification system for some movement from one group to another. One might, for instance, start out as a fudgie, move to permafudge status (hence becoming local) and later become a snowbird. Summer people, too, have been known to retire to live Up North fulltime. Not every category wall is permeable, though. As should be obvious, you can’t move into the Native or Native American category by changing your address.
The category of Americans, however, embraces most of us, and those who visit from other countries deserve a warm welcome Up North, too. After all, unless they came from Canada (and we love our Canadian visitors), they’ve come a long way to get to Leelanau County, and every group contributes something to making this place what it is for all of us.
Good news on a becoming-cloudy Up North day: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson, arrived today. I also have now in paperback Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, along with his new title (hardcover only at this point), The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home in hardcover. You’ve heard Ariely on NPR; if you haven’t read him yet, you have a treat in store. How rational do you think you are, and how important do you think rationality is? Interesting questions at any time of year.