Too loud and too bright | News, Sports, Jobs

This month some of us in Alcona County, “First of 83”, are covering our ears.

When poet TS Eliot wrote the famous line “April is the cruelest month”, we can be sure he didn’t live in northeast Michigan.

Most northerners would say February or March are the cruelest months.

But, for me, it’s July.

To paraphrase TS, “July is the loudest month. ”

At least that’s where I live, near Harrisville State Park, in what was once the booming logging town of Springport. Silence reigns here for nine months of the year, broken only by howling seagulls, snarling crows and howling salamanders.

July is coming with a bang. The explosive cacophony of July 4 begins at the end of June. During this boisterous week, the Michiganders can legally light all manner of firecrackers – ropes, neatly braided together in poisonous factories in China – and fireworks – quivers filled with rockets in the shape of arrows and Roman candles. , produced in the same dangerous Chinese workplaces.

It looks like sporadic gunfire in a Middle Eastern war zone or downtown America.

The ritualistic Independence Day flash and bang was limited to a picturesque fireworks display over Harrisville Harbor, and the children frolicked around sparklers and hooted with the thrill of being so close to the burning, without let the experience become excruciating (people smoke: painless proximity to the fire).

The advent of permissive fireworks laws brought about the tents and caravans that sprang up in June, which carry all these Chinese arsonists. Now people can determine for themselves when it’s time to light up the skies and break the calm, anytime around July 4th, without warning.

Sudden, deafening intercourse is enough to trigger a flashback from PTSD or to become the subject of traumatic stress themselves!

Fortunately, the laws banning fireworks resume on July 5, a day that I celebrate for that reason.

But then the jet skis take over, and they’re worse than a week of sporadic fireworks, as they roar, run, and buzz, back and forth across Lake Huron week after week, until after the labor Day.

Clayton Jacobson II was only 35 years old in 1968 when he filed for a patent: a “motorcycle for water”. Jacobsen had learned jet engineering in the Marine Corps while stationed in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb had seen the light not long before.

A thrill-seeker by nature, Jacobson was passionate about motocross racing in the Mojave Desert, a sport that carries a high probability of bodily injury.

Jacobson was inspired to invent Jet Ski after being knocked out in a competition – there’s a photo of him riding his off-road motorcycle at a dangerous angle in a group of racers the day he got the idea! He quit his day job and devoted his time and resources to designing a prototype. He nicknamed it the Bombardier.

In 1973, four years after receiving its patent, Kawasaki Industries of Japan began manufacturing Jacobson’s stroke of genius – in fact, it was a two-stroke stroke of genius, with two cylinders powering a 400 cm3.

Jet Skis, a Kawasaki copyrighted name that has become an umbrella term for all personal watercraft, quickly took hold in the late 1970s. But they didn’t get it right away Up North . The bass rhythm of those years came from the jet engines of the Oscoda-based bombers and fighters.

The popularity of jet skis continued to grow along with the power of their engineering. When jet skis found their way to Michigan’s lakes – like an invasive species – in the 1980s, they began to annoy nature lovers as they plied the water, buzzing like mini bikes .

Now they roar like Harleys. Some jet skis seem large enough to accommodate a family of five and if needed they can bring a mattress and the dog.

As their 50th anniversary approaches, the largest jet skis on the market in 2021 dwarf Jacobson’s JS400. With its 1,498 cubic centimeters, the four-cylinder, four-stroke engine of the Jet Ski Ultra 310 is more than four times the size!

Now it’s noisy up north in July.

On a related note, when was the last time you saw the Northern Lights? Not the arena, but the northern lights, scorching in the night?

For young readers – hopefully there are some – the answer may be “never”. If you’re like me, it’s been a long time (a LOT, a unit of measurement to weaken memories). Especially in August, which is said to be the best time for astronomers to witness the mesmerizing, multi-colored spectacle of the sky.

Blame it on “light pollution”.

Light pollution is not a threat to the survival of our species, unlike toxic air, soil and water.

But it is a sign that times are changing.

As Crystal Nelson’s article in The News on Wednesday, July 7 shows, the population of northeastern Michigan has declined in the half-century since the arrival of the jet ski (one wonders if there is a correlation?).

Yet despite having fewer people, the area is much brighter at night now. Rows of lights like a baseball stadium burn through the night in big box stores. Intense security light points shine around the cabins in the forest and along the shores of the lake. Seen from the shore in Harrisville, the town of Oscoda, 16 miles away, radiates a perpetual bluish false dawn until the true dawn takes over with undertones of pink and peach.

In July and August, if you want to find darkness and seclusion, the place to go is Negwegon State Park. There, a vast, undeveloped expanse nestled beneath the southern tip of Thunder Bay, neither Oscoda nor Alpena blurs the horizon with light. This is an official “black point”, which does not seem like a favorable designation, but certainly is for amateur astronomers. In addition, the waters of Negwegon are thankfully free on a jet ski and will remain so, like a museum of peace and quiet.

Eric Paul Roorda is a professor, historian, lecturer, author and illustrator. He has lived in Alcona County for 50 years.

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