The Voice of the Turtle

Detroit Stories

A strange night as I had four separate groups of people from the metropolitan Detroit area sitting at my bar discussing basketball.  Admittedly, not the strangest thing to find in a bar except this was a 3-star joint known for it’s wine, had no TV’s and was in New York City.

The conversation between the five of us may have been mistaken as a meeting between congregants from a church as the words ‘prayer’ and ‘hope’ were thrown around in abundance.  The subject of these good thoughts and wishes for divine intervention was twofold: it was Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers and Michigan State University was paying in the NCAA Men’s National Basketball title game being held in the city of Detroit.  “I went to Michigan (MSU’s friendly instate rival) but I’m bleeding Spartan green tonight,” one of the guys told me.  “The state and the city need MSU to win it all at home and for the Tigers to have a good season.”

It may seem odd to those of you living in any of the 49 states in the Union for millions of people to be putting so much pressure on sports teams to bring up their morale but Detroit and Michigan desperately need that pick me up.  The auto industry is foundering, Detroit is dying and the population is moving away at alarmingly large rates.  If that mass movement had happened in any other country, those leaving would be called refugees.  As if that weren’t bad enough, those that remain face an unemployment rate that is officially over 10% but probably hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of 25%.  It’s as bad as it gets.  However, I found myself pulling for the Michigan State Spartans.  Anything that could give relief to my hometown would be a welcome distraction, even if it were only for a fleeting few minutes.

Alas, the Almighty isn’t a Spartan/Tiger/Detroit/Michigan fan as MSU fell to the favored North Carolina Tar Heels, the Tigers lost 12-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays and snow is in the forecast for the evening of April 7.

The only comfort I can offer to the city and state of my birth is this snipet from Ernie Harwell, former Tiger broadcaster.  He opened every season of Detroit Tiger baseball with these words from the Song of Solomon:

For, lo, the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth;

The time of the singing of birds is come,

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

Here’s hoping the voice of the Turtle is heard in the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit as they take the brunt of the suffering in the current depression.


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