Having been born in this state, the lushness, greenery and palpably humid summers are always comforting and familiar, yet momentarily shocking from the dry, adobe-colored pallette that is so So-Cal. Although they are possible, earthquakes seem an unlikely and almost exotic experience here. Thunderstorms, hail and an occasional tornado can and do appear to frighten and wreak havoc, but there is usually some warning-- flash of lightning, a clap of thunder or that characteristic odd-green sky and electrified air that occurs right before a funnel cloud arrives.
When I mention to my Michigander family that I got an extra roll of paper towels or a case of water for emergencies, I get the same response. A smile and nod that confirms their opinion that I am a nut. “Prepare for what?” their faces all say. A fire? Flood? Tornado? And, you have to be kidding, an earthquake? I might as well suggested that they prepare for an erupting volcano.
It is not like disasters don’t happen here. Houses do burn in fires. Snow storms shut highways and strand people in their cars. Severe storms do knock out power, often for days, but I have yet to see any signs of preparedness. OK, maybe it is m y family and their either ignorance of the unexpected or their unfailing faith that someone will come along and help them, but preparedness is just not on their radars.
Or perhaps it is that old pioneer spirit, or that people here are really nice. People in Michigan manage to continue along just fine, despite the seeming lack of low fat food, and lust for things sweet and fatty. Looked at from that angle, I guess, the biggest disaster ready to befall many people here is finding a close location of a cardiac medical center. I am not trying to be harsh or mean, but physical fitness, at least at some level, IS a form of preparedness and a life saving/extending measure.
For those of you not familiar with Michigan, or any of those beautiful states surrounding the Great Lakes, I encourage you to go there. It is beautiful and full of really lovely and very friendly people. Just be prepared – you will very likely get called “Hon,” and even a light touch on the arm as they thank you for coming by.