Duck Days of Summer

Here’s a creative guest blogger submission from Mary Wyatt of Redford, Michigan.

“You don’t swim?” our host asked as the rest of the vacation-types prepared to enjoy the not-just-good-but-Great-Lake up close.

This isn’t swimming?” I replied, ankle-deep, scoping out all the best rocks on this particular stretch of Lake Huron beachfront. Mine, I tell you, MINE, MINE!!!! Oh.

Michigan Beach- OscodaThe beach here, north of Oscoda is gorgeous, just the right ratio of sand-to-beach-grass, comfy Adirondack chairs, sunshine, breeze, the sound of the surf gently lapping the shore. It’s just that the water is, well, I’d call it chilly, but up here the rating methodology is ducks. As in, how many ducks under water does it take before one is comfortable enough to enjoy the surf. A hot day might be classified as a two-duck-day. Cooler weather might call for three or even (gasp!-literally) four ducks. Beyond that is, I believe, hypothermia.

As a child, I was inseparable from the water. We nearly always had a backyard pool, and every Wednesday afternoon was spent at Camp Dearborn in Milford. In the summer, normal clothes were rarely worn. When a child woke in the morning, it was customary for said child to put on a bathing suit in lieu of real clothes. Kid heaven, no underwear required! All day we were in and out of the pool. Swim time lasted until one’s body temperature dropped sufficiently to induce Popsicle-blue lips. We got out long enough to have lunch, play on swings, enjoy some bike-riding, or play some tag (Not it!). When outside got boring, it was right back into the pool or the lake. We must have been the cleanest kids for miles.

At this advanced age, however, I have a hard time even using the lap pool where I work out. It’s only heated to 84 degrees, you see. The therapy pool, however, is a balmy 93 degrees.

So you see, it’s not that I don’t swim, it’s just that there aren’t enough ducks.

Travel Michigan Guest Blogger - WyattMary is a lifelong resident of Metro Detroit, and uses her devotion to the Red Wings to survive the winters! She teaches sixth grade because she enjoys hanging out with 12-year-olds. Some of her favorite Michigan places are Saugatuck, Petoskey, Traverse City, Dearborn, Oscoda, and Detroit. Go Tigers!

If you have any questions about his post, feel free to leave a comment, or contact Mary via email or Twitter (@middleagedwoman).

  • Sue M.

    You know it, Mary!! Good memories!

  • Jim Styro

    I think we know some of the same people – and the ones who use that duck rating system tend to exaggerate just how chilly the water is. And never underestimate the effect of wide disparities in air vs. water temperature or wind speed in this rating system. A warm day may improve things in the shallow water – but get out a little deeper or let the breeze whip up – and you got some serious goose-bumps on your hands (or legs or arms…you get the idea).

  • Cathy

    That’s my cottage!!!

  • Momo Fali

    I’m totally stealing this and using it when we go to the pool. It’s always so cold! Usually a minimum of three ducks.

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    Sue – Thanks! I had fun remembering…

    JimStyro – C’mon! Doesn’t that just make it more refreshing?

    Cathy – And your family’s duck system! Thanks for the invite…

  • JavaJunkie

    Oh, I just love the “duck” system! It’s those funny turns of expression that make a place really memorable.

  • bear

    Nice Article Mary. Nancy and I just got back from a week at Michigan’s greatest lake, Superior. Looking for agates and other beutiful rocks. You know when you have had enough when your legs quit feeling cold and they actually start burning.

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    Momo – Pools should be heated. End of story.

    JavaJunkie – And the people you share them with, as well!

    Bear – There is NO cold like Lake Superior cold. OPI nail polish has a color called Lake Superior Swim. It was blue.

  • Shannon

    This post made me so happy – not only is summer my favorite season, but I just LOVE ducks. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    Shannon – summer is ending so soon, but ducks are year-round!

  • Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt

    Mary,
    Thanks for reminding me why I miss MI so much.

  • Chico

    This “post” speaks truth, I would say,
    ‘Cause I’ve been there and quite know the way.
    You just nestle your back,
    Mid-adirondack,
    And muse “How many ducks today?”

    -the Duckmeister

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    Bravo, Chico! I never knew you were a poet! Thanks for coming by, Herr Duckmeister.

  • Chico

    Since you’re so nice, how about this -

    The sand and surf, you must know,
    Start my memory juices aflow.
    I can still see you reachin’
    For gems on the beach, an’
    Tuckin’ ‘em into your stow.

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    I foresee a second career in the future. You could:
    A) Write lyrics for Jimmy Buffett, or
    B) Hang out a shingle, Chico: Beach Poet, or
    C) Continue to make me laugh my goofy laugh.

  • Chico

    And for good measure, a final offering:

    A sweet Michigander named Mary,
    Of the big lake’s nature was wary.
    So when the water she reached,
    She chose to stay beached,
    “Four ducks” was just way to scary.

  • http://unmitigated.typepad.com Mary Wyatt

    Plus, SOMEBODY has to find all the good rocks. You’re welcome.

  • Christine B

    Wow! The “duck system” is becoming more well-known. That’s so cool!