Notes from the North Country

by: Lon and Lynn Emerick

The State of Michigan has an official song, but it has not been accorded status as the official song. “My Michigan” by Kavanagh and Clint features (in our view) some rather archaic and cloying lyrics. A more popular song, “Michigan, My Michigan” was first written by Winifred Lister of Detroit in 1862 and sung to the tune of “O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum.” Both the words and the music have been changed by several authors and lyricists over the years.
Fortunately, those of us who are privileged to dwell above the bridge have our very own anthem, and it expresses exactly how we feel about the Upper Peninsula. If you have not heard the song, tune in to Discovering with Buck LeVasseur at 7:30 on Monday evenings on local channel TV6.
The signature song was composed by renaissance man, Mark Mitchell. A long-time resident, he is a multi-talented artist: in addition to composing and performing music, he creates exquisite pieces in leather, metal, wood. Mitchell knew during early childhood he was destined to be an artist; he was drawing constantly. After a very brief period of training in engineering, he earned a BA in Fine Arts at Wayne State University and a masters degree in Fine Arts from the prestigious Cranbrook Institute in Bloomfield Hills.
Following his formal education, Mitchell made a wise and life-changing move: he came north to the Superior Peninsula, found forty acres of wooded land, built three log cabins there and began a long love affair with the U.P. He maintains the natural world motivates his art and sustains his life in a myriad of ways.
Many local residents know of Mitchell as a singer/songwriter. He has produced several albums of his original songs. All of his music celebrates the beauty of the Upper Peninsula and the work of loggers, miners and fishermen who built a place for us in this land. He has performed in venues all over Michigan.
For several years, Mitchell was a political cartoonist for the Mining Journal in Marquette. Have you seen his photographs? Superb images of ice crystals, a milkweed pod in the act of springing open, an entire portfolio of Little Presque Isle in all seasons—all lovingly portrayed in stunning color. One of his Little Presque Isle framed photos hangs on a wall in our own log home. Looking north from near Freeman’s Landing, his camera has captured the point and the offshore island; it evokes for us the special beauty of this place along the Lake Superior shoreline.
For the past several years, Mitchell has focused on his first artistic love: sculpting wood. His creations may be seen at the Studio Gallery in Marquette and at the Miskwabik Gallery in Calumet.
We leave you now with some words from Mark Mitchell’s Discovering song, which celebrates our natural heritage—the forests, Great Lakes and wildlife of the Upper Peninsula.
“These are what I treasure, the only way I measure the feelings that I have for this fine land. There is so much to discover when you’re a long-time lover of Northern Michigan.”
—Lon and Lynn Emerick

Editor’s Note: Comments are welcome by writing MM or e-mailing marquettemonthly@marquettemonthly.org
Lon and Lynn Emerick’s Upper Peninsula books: The Superior Peninsula, Going Back to Central Mine, Lumberjack—Inside an Era, Sharing the Journey, You Wouldn’t Like it Here and You STILL Wouldn’t Like it Here are available at area book and gift stores or by visiting their Web site at www.northcountrypublishing.com

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