I am firmly convinced that the majority of city dwellers that buy property in northern Michigan will transition that property into an extension of their city home. Trust me. It never fails. It might take some time and money but it is all but assured. I can almost hear the husband as he leans over to his wife upon purchasing their “piece of heaven” saying “what a beautiful place to watch the sunset and relax.” This is usually the last time that the word, “relax” will ever be used.
One of the first events to occur is either the small 600 square foot cabin is reduced to ruble by a large bulldozer and a small 3,600 square foot, pre-fab, A Frame style home is erected in its place. The other possibility is that our small cabin is expanded to a 2,600 square foot or larger home. No one can live with one bedroom. In fact, if you are adding a bedroom, why not add two or three additional bedrooms? Now no one has one bathroom. That went out with the Civil War. So now we have usually three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a great room and a large deck or screened-in porch. The windows are replaced with Andersen or Pella windows, a septic tank and/or field is installed to accommodate the new washer, dishwasher, two sinks, two toilets, a tub, and a shower. Given some time, the throw rugs and hand-me-down furniture will be removed and given to a local charity and new carpeting will be installed along with furniture from the local Ethan Allan furniture store.
Now our forefathers walked on packed leaves called “trails” for years. But this does not fit the mode of the new “piece of heaven.” The leaves are removed, top-soil is brought in, the large areas seeded and we soon have a new lush green lawn that has to be fertilized, mowed and the leaves removed – forever or until the owner dies. Now, if we are near water, a dock is a necessity and possibly a swim platform and a small boat. Nearer to our new expanded home, brick pavers, concrete circles, concrete squares, wood or asphalt must be installed to cover the old dirt walkways. No self respecting man or woman of the north will walk on dirt outside his or her home. Why? That dirt would be tracked inside to the carpeting and eventually to the Ethan Allan furniture.
Usually the garage is the first building to be modified. Shelves are installed to handle all the cans and tools that we have collected. However, no garage can handle everything. Next comes the 15 by 20 foot shed. When that is full, we move on the pole barn. Now the original pole barns were just that. Poles were placed in the ground; sides and a roof were put on; and a door was installed. These original pole barns were drafty and let in mice and rodents. Now this lasted a few years and the modern 21st century pole barn emerged. It had a cement floor along with rat walls, electricity for the lights and power to the work bench that will soon be installed so that we can repair, modify, and fix all the things that we will store in our new modern pole barn.
Now Mother Nature is hard on northern roads. Heavy rains tend to create holes and what is referred to as the “washboard” surface. Well, no northern Michigan man or woman is going to drive his or her car on a road that is not smooth and up to par so a grader is brought in and more gravel and with this renovation begins the perpetual cycle of road repair that also lasts for the life of the owner.
In time, say 10 or 15 years, the weary owner will sit back, holding a cold beer with calloused hands and a sore back and say, “damn this place looks good. After I cut the grass tomorrow, I will sit back and enjoy it.” Now a word of caution, many owners go through a lot of “friends” over the years as, even the most naïve of friends soon realizes after a few years that the saying “come on up and have a beer with me and we will do a little fishing” is a lie. The beer you will be holding is in your hand while you drive the tractor over the leaves that have collected on the new grass and the fishing you will do is the fish sandwich at the local bar that you will have while taking a break from cutting wood. Oh, my piece of heaven.