Not much difference between Michigan and Alabama

Mike WilcoxThe longer I am in Alabama the more I realize life is pretty much the same wherever you live.
For those readers that don’t know, I purchased a newspaper in LaFayette Alabama back in December and since February have spent a great deal of time down there. I travel back in forth from Alabama to Michigan then back each month.

I really thought I would experience culture shock when being in Alabama. Despite language differences- and those are significant, and the weather, which is warm year-round in Alabama, and very cold and snowy in the Michigan winter, I marvel at how much my rural Alabama location is so much like my rural Michigan home.

The similarities are striking. Michigan of course is home to General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, and many of our families evolved from the automobile plant. Where I live in Alabama, Kia is the largest source of revenue. They’re gigantic, and I do mean humungous, West Point, Georgia plant provides employment for tens of thousands in the area where I live.

Patriotism runs rampant in both areas. Those that serve our country would do well to be in north central Michigan or rural Alabama. In both areas our veterans are treated with the utmost respect, as they should be.

As in north central Michigan, recreation opportunities abound in Alabama. Deer hunting in Northern Michigan is a sacred tradition. We all know that. But in Alabama, they have plenty of deer, as well, and when November roles around the area is filled with hunters. A steady stream of boats flow through town to hit the area lakes in Alabama, where fishing for bass and other fish is excellent. In Clare County, Michigan where we are known for our dozens of lakes, fishing is equally as good.

On a sour note, both areas have their share of poverty. Clare County is considered the second poorest county in Michigan. LaFayette, AL is extremely poor with many people on government subsistence and unemployed.

Much like Harrison or Farwell or Marion, LaFayette and Lanett in Alabama have their share of empty storefronts. Heck, LaFayette has more empty storefronts than those occupied. I’ve never seen a town so empty. But then I think, and Marion and Farwell, are not far behind.
LaFayette, sans Kia, is strictly a farming and logging community. Logging trucks pass through the center of town every five minutes or so. Beef cattle ranches are all over the place. In Clare County the two main industries are – guess what- farming and logging. The difference is Clare farms mostly grow crops, whereas it’s virtually impossible to grow crops in the red clay of Alabama.

Politically both areas are extremely conservative. In Alabama where I live, it is considered the “Bible belt” and issues like gay marriage and abortion are frowned upon. The same could be said for Clare County. I think there is an equal dislike for President Obama. I certainly know very few people in Clare County hold him in high regard. Even the Democrats I know, are not enthralled with his policies. I think the same is true in Alabama.

I did, however, come across one difference that was striking yesterday. I was trying to crawl through a window in my garage- yes I had locked myself out, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a strange creature walking across my Alabama lawn. It was an Armadillo, and about the same time I noticed, so did my two dogs. They immediately descended on the strange creature, as did I.

I never knew Armadillos were so slow. This thing moved about as fast as a turtle. It moved along the fence line looking for an opening to escape. I give credit to my dogs. They followed they strange creature but never attempted to get near. Once in a while it would move slowly towards the dogs or me like it was attempting to scare us.

I later read that they are basically blind. They have a keen since of smell but their sight is terrible. We followed the odd creature for nearly a half hour. I thought many times about picking the Armadillo up and tossing him on the other side of the fence, but then I remembered, some saying that they carried leprosy (I later learned that to be untrue).

Finally the creature found a hold in the fence and it was gone. Later in talking to people down here I learned they are extremely destructive animals digging up plants and yards in search of worms and grubs. One native told me they are the only animal that serves no positive purpose. If I see one, he exclaimed, you better believe I will shoot it dead.

I guess that’s totally different from my mindset. Being an animal-lover, I found the Armadillo cute, and great entertainment for that half hour. Putting a bullet in its hard-shell is a fete I could never comprehend.
I hope he stops by soon for another visit.

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