The Creative Endeavors Thread Runs Riot Through Small Towns

‘Cause fuck that guy.

A happier resident of a small town (Saline Township), though I thought for a second that he was a pit bull when he first bounded alongside me.

Seriously, though, this is the space for our members to discuss and share their creative projects, ranging from written works to drawings, photography, and even craft projects such as knitting and woodworking. Self promotion is welcome (websites where we can view and/or purchase your work). Please do continue to preface if content is NSFW and be sure to properly spoiler/link such content. Those of you who’d like to post future Creative Endeavors Threads post your request in the comments below.

As some of you may know, my cycling travels over the past month have taken me (as they have the past couple of summers) through large cities, small cities (I live in-between), large towns, and, yes, small towns. There are, of course, pros and cons to them all, though I think, on the whole, I’ve landed on the best combination that fits my personality and interests (this may, of course, be hindsight rationalization, but in general, I think the only place where I might be more content, at least in the US, might be Chicago, and that ship’s almost certainly sailed). I’ll be off this morning through some of the more urban combinations thereof (in part to scout a potential ride to Lake Erie in August, one of my biggest present ambitions), but this summer’s offered a lot of potential for reflection.

My trusty companion, named well before Governor Whitmer’s presumably well-intentioned Barbie crossover (“Gretchen” herself, a Diamondback Insight 1, dates to 2016).

My biggest resolution at the start of 2020 was to see more of Michigan, and though the pandemic quickly threw a soggy blanket thereon, I made the most of it, covering almost all the areas of my town I hadn’t seen yet (quite a few, as it happened), and then the surrounding countryside. I’d made a stab or two therein before, and one long journey up the Huron River in the summer of 2010, but by and large I’d stuck to town, a trend that feels weird in hindsight. Either way, I’ve made up for lost time the last three years, and while my creative production rate has suffered a bit from my enthusiasm, the effect it’s had on some of my thinking, especially from an artistic perspective, has been well worth the dimunition. It’s been particularly useful, I think, to get a proper physical sense of the local topography and landscape, both urban and rural (and in between); I honestly think it’s something that can’t really be done unless you’re moving therethrough under your own power.

Bethel Church (in Freedom Township) and its graveyard; originally one of several German immigrant churches in the area, it now hosts a UCC congregation.

Something else that’s been on my mind is the local municipal diversity; you can be in a massive exurban blob one minute and a bucolic, verdant forest the next. Especially in the greater Detroit area, arguably ground zero for both American car culture and suburban sprawl, the survival of green spaces both small and large (however intensely managed by human agencies) is noteworthy. This morning (possibly at the very time this posts) I’ll be riding either down or out of the Lower Huron Metropark, likely in the very shadow of Detroit Metro Airport. I rode all the way to Detroit a couple of weeks ago, much of it along the Hines Trail, and this trip will take me through a similar landscape of old-school suburbs and farmsteads. The connections between my relatively leafy environs and the famously gritty neighborhoods of the nearby metropolis (however enervated, a process seeing a recent slow reverse) have come to form the background for so much of my work and thinking and I’m really looking forward to getting even better acquainted in the next few weeks and, indeed, years.

Leafing through the Fran Lebowitz Reader at Salt Springs Brewery in Saline, which may be why I was impelled to make myself look slightly like her.

The header is a picture of the “Porky’s Pride,”* the signature sandwich of the Bridgewater Bank Tavern in Bridgewater, Michigan, about halfway between Saline and Manchester in southern Washtenaw County. Bridgewater Township** has about eighteen hundred inhabitants, so I’m guessing Bridgewater itself numbers considerably less. My first visit a year ago very much raised the stereotypical swivel of locals’ heads at the bar, but last week’s lunch felt far more welcoming; a surprisingly diverse crowd and a genial vibe (one that had been strengthened elsewhere in the countryside that morning despite a brush with death or at least serious injury barely an hour before) really sealed the deal on a pleasant day’s ride and this is the kind of thought I like to have foremost in my mind when creating or simply living.

How’s your work going?

*BBQ pulled pork, smoked ham, and bacon, with cheddar cheese & coleslaw on grilled Texas Toast. I don’t remember liking the coleslaw as much this time around.

**Townships, in the American political sense, date from the Northwest Ordinances of the 1780s, intended to “organize” the vast Northwest Territory (essentially most of the modern-day Midwest) after the end of the American Revolution. They’re arguably the most basic administrative unit of states such as Michigan and, I think, Ohio; any land not included in a city or a village (and “cities” range wildly in population around here) is effectively part of a township. Some are “charter townships,” with larger population densities and administrative protections intended to safeguard against unwanted annexation by larger entities; most of the townships in Washtenaw County, where I live, are about six square miles.