Mackinac Memories 4/12/15

I was fretting this morning about there really being nothing to write about today, and when that happens my mind automatically turns to Mackinac.  In the six summers Ted and I lived on the island for the season, I can count on one hand the number of times when I honestly couldn’t come up with a subject.  As I’ve said many times before, all I needed to do was pick up my camera and walk out the door – there was always a story down the hill, or up the hill, or in town, or looking out over the Straits.

When the Baileys were here last Monday evening we were sitting in a little Italian restaurant downtown in Flagler Beach, waiting for our dinner and talking about the island in general.  Jeri-Lynn, who has spent many more seasons on the island than Ted and I (with husband Brian and their children, they go when the Chippewa and Lilac Tree Hotels open), leaned in close and asked, “What was it that first drew you to the island?”

I thought a moment and said, “Before I fell in love with the people of Mackinac, I fell in love with the woods.”  Jeri-Lynn said it was exactly the same for her.  We went on to chat about the magical and almost spiritual aura that many people soak up on Mackinac, and we talked as well about how others feel none of the magic whatsoever.  I shared with Jeri-Lynn that walking in Mackinac’s woods calms me as no other place I’ve ever visited, and there is almost a holiness I find there.  Jeri-Lynn shared that when she walks those woods she feels as though she’s joined by the people over the centuries before her who walked the same paths.   I was struck by our different impressions of the same place – the solitude of my walks, the fellowship of hers.

For those who love that little spot of land rising serenely from Lake Huron, it makes no difference what emotion Mackinac stirs within us.  We each take from her what we need and what she willingly offers – peace, joy, fellowship, a sense of escapism blended perfectly with the contentment of belonging.

Below is a blog – the first ever written by Bear – posted the first summer I began Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog.  It’s great fun for me to skim back through the archives and re-read what’s been written over the years.  This posted May 26, 2009, and it was on one of those rare occasions when I felt as though I had nothing to write about. It still makes me smile.

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Hi! My name is Bear.  I’m a golden retriever.   That’s me in the picture above with my bratty little sister Maddie and my mom Bree (well, actually her name is Brenda, but she told me once she never liked that name and had always wanted to be called Bree).  I don’t care – I just call her mom.  Maddie and I are not really related, although there was this 145 year old lady one time who looked at us and asked, “Are they brother and sister?”   Pleeeasseeee!  Do you see who mom is holding tightly in her arms in that picture?  Do you see that the brat has on a collar AND a halter AND a leash??  Do you see me just sitting there looking gorgeous without even a COLLAR on my beautiful neck?   Sister??  Geeezzz!

Mom had been fretting all day yesterday about the weather and about how she couldn’t come up with a story idea for her blog (whatever that is).  She said the weather was really nasty – 46 degrees at 2:00 p.m., cloudy, threatening rain, not a good day to go out and take pictures. (I personally consider that a perfect day.  It’s chilly and there is a good chance I could get seriously wet.  What else could a golden retriever ask for?)  Anyway, she and dad (that’s Ted) were having a little “discussion” about him forgetting something in town again and that “somebody” had to make another trip down the hill.  So I said, “Come on, mom – let’s you and me go to town together.”  I know what you are thinking – dogs can’t talk.  But I swear, two seconds later she looked at me and said, “I think I’ll take Bear to town with me.”  Need I say more?

So she started getting on all these clothes – undershirt, sweatshirt, fleece coat, blue jeans, socks, wool cap, gloves  . . . . . . .  good grief! It’s not Antarctica!  It’s just Mackinac Island in May.  Tomorrow it will be sunny and 70!    So, she’s finally ready, and we start to leave.  Maddie goes running down the stairs like she’s going too, but mom says, “No, sweetie, it’s just me and the big boy going this time.”  You should have seen her pout.  Mom put on my collar (a Georgia Bull Dawg collar, I might mention), attached my leash (leash law downtown) and away we went. I promise I did NOT look back and stick my tongue out at the brat.

Yeahhhhhh!  We got to the bottom of the first rise, and it started RAINING!!!  What fun is that!!  I could stick my tongue out and catch WATER!!  I don’t know why mom was so cranky.  I did happen to notice that all the tourists who ride around in those buggies pulled by those insanely big horses were all wrapped up like mummies.

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When we got to that gigantic white building where about a gazillion people stay every night , we spotted Anna who works for The Grand Hotel .  She is always there somewhere outside The Grand, and she always has the most beautiful smile on her face and is so friendly.  Me and mom and dad just love Anna.  She is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and dad always says to Anna, “That’s where I was born!”  He must have said that to her about a million times now.  I think that’s what happens when people start getting a “little older.”

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By the time we talked to Anna a few minutes, the rain had stopped.  That’s how it is on Mackinac Island – one minute it’s raining, the next minute it’s sunny.  I LOVE it!  Our next stop was the bank.  Mom stuck her head inside and asked if it was ok to bring me in.  The nice ladies in the cages said, “Sure!”  This really sweet girl wanted to pet me (I’m soooo used to that), and mom asked her if she would hold my leash while she did her banking, and she said she would love to.  I got a LOT of good petting and ear scratching from  her!

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We stopped in to say “hey” to Bill and Jim at Mackinac Realty (they sold us our great condo), but only Jim was there.  He offered to dogsit me while mom went in the post office, but mom said no, she’d just tie me up outside.  Huh?

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Mom explained to me that dogs were not allowed in post offices anywhere, including Mackinac Island, unless they are seeing eye dogs.  I told her that I see with my eyes, but she acted like she didn’t hear me and tied me up anyway.

We started back home, then ducked into the shelter under the awning at the Great Turtle Kite and Toy Store to warm up a minute.  The cute girl in that store invited us in (I can get mom in ANYWHERE).  I was really bummed out when I discovered that this was a KID toy store, not a DOG toy store, but I had fun looking anyway.

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When we got home, mom said, “I still have no idea what I will write about tomorrow.”  So I put my head in her lap, and said, “Don’t worry, mom, I’ll write it for you.”  And so I did.

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What’s changed since this story?  Bear was a two-year-old when he began his writing career – he’s eight now.  Anna-of-the-smiling-face is now an island taxi-driver, and the toy store has moved from Cadotte into the Lilac Tree Hotel’s mall, next to the Island Bookstore.  The bank still gives out doggie treats, and Bear still has to be tied up outside the post office. 

I silently chuckle as I read back over the words I’ve written today.  I know those of you who read this blog know what I’m trying to express. You know why – in my mind – I’m already heading north.  And in June my body gets to follow.

God bless.

35 thoughts on “Mackinac Memories 4/12/15

  1. Wow, that brings back memories. Just the year before that we had our first visit on the island and the year after is when I discovered your blog, came back to the island and met you. In fact, I printed out the blog you wrote that Sept. about you meeting some of your blog fans. Thanks for the smile this afternoon Brenda. Love ya girl. 🙂

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  2. Love your thoughts about how calm you feel when you are on the island. I have felt that way for years and if I am having a bad day, I just think about the Island and such a calm and warm feeling comes over me.
    Is there any news on Molly’s condition? Hope all is going well.

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    • I just spoke to her this afternoon, Maryellen. She had the medi-port (for her chemo) put in last week and is sore from that. Chemo starts soon. She is ready to get on with the treatment!

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  3. Oh my word! That is so funny!!

    I have a question, though, about the trees on Cadotte in front of the Grand. Have those been cut down and replaced with smaller trees? It seems I remember them smaller. Maybe MY eyes need checking!

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    • Your eyes aren’t fooling you, MJ. Cadotte was lined with huge trees when we first moved there. Oh my goodness, it was quite a grand ride up that hill between them. They suffered from disease though in their old age and had to be removed. The smaller trees have been in place maybe four years now and have really grown a lot.

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  4. Loved this one from Bear’s perspective…. Toby has been on the Island more years than I will tell, but we spent our “honeymoon” summer in 1962 (53 years ago) living in the fort as I worked for the State Park commission….our escape during that summer – was out the back gate and into the quiet of the woods as you describe….so many trails and such solitude…going back hundreds of years – the history. Thanks. Elaine Murray

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  5. Boy, it’s a good thing you added Bear’s blog to this blog today to lighten it up. I was starting to tear up (again) thinking about Mackinac Island and why I love it so much. Escapism (I like your word), serenity, the woods, the water, no cars, I could go on. I’m glad your mind always goes to Mackinac Island when there is nothing else to write about. That definitely keeps Mackinac Island alive for me. And Bear, you are such a good writer. You brighten my day ! Write again soon.

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  6. I LOVE Bear’s posts…always have!
    The woods…that is amazing. That is the SAME thing that draws me to the Island. It’s one of my favorite things ABOUT the Island. There is nothing I love doing better than just walking around in the woods while we’re there. We do it every single day. I feel such history. I look at the trees and think how old some must be…and the rocks…and just everything. I think about what must have gone on so long ago. I never tire of reading about the history of the Island. You’re right. It’s almost spiritual. People always ask us, “Don’t you want to go somewhere else for vacation? You always go to Mackinac.” NOPE. They just don’t get it. I think it’s just something special in our heart…it’s that magical connection. ❤

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  7. This was the first time I read this blog from Bear. He is very entertaining. I, too,started tearing up reading about favorite things about the island. My friends say “what do you do there?” They tell me I have an old soul and was born in the wrong era? I love the woods. I love the old homes. Some of them seem to speak to me. It is my special place I go to in my mind when I can’t sleep. Made our reservations for the end of September and cannot wait!

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    • I used to get those questions a lot too, Jeani. I guess my friends just finally gave up and accepted that the island owns a part of me that no other place can.

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  8. Brenda,

    I’m sorry about the name, but I just think of you as Brenda, so if you don’t mind too much, I’ll keep on using the name. (By the way, when I was in high school, I had a girlfriend named, Brenda, so you are in very good company because I only dated the best.)

    As a teenager working on the Island, I don’t remember thinking of the solitude of being in the woods there, but now that is exactly what I remember about being in them (and I was in them almost every day for three summers). I wish I could walk in them again, but I guess that’s not to be. My interest then was the history of the Island. Certainly that has stuck with me, and I suppose that’s at least part of the reason why I think so highly of Ted. Like I said at least a dozen times, “Ted is a walking encyclopedia of the Island.” Come to think of it, you and should collaborate on a Mackinac Island book. With his knowledge of the history and your writing and photographic abilities, it’s bound to be a best seller.

    It was so nice to read Bear’s blog again. Every word I read of all the Island blogs (old or new) helps me to relive my time there and I really appreciate it -more than you’ll ever know.

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  9. How truly precious,
    Bear you are an incredible storyteller.
    This was a perfect post for a bear of a weekend.
    Sorry no pun intended. You always lighten the load.
    Finals starting at school..ugh,….

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  10. A nice walk down the memory aisle Mrs. B! It really is amazing how fast the years tack on. None the less I remember reading this when I found your blog and like many had to find “Chapter 1” to start from the beginning. The rest as they say is history. I’ve enjoyed being one of your readers ever since. The adventures of the island blog with winter updates, to connecting the dots, to where you are now with “To Be Clay”. Simply the best reading I look forward to every Thursday and Sunday.

    Thanks again for taking us back a few years to reflect.

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  11. Dear Bree,You write such a wonderful blog I feel that I am with you on your journey as you and Bear go down town.I know just how you feel when your heart is hoping to return to that magical place called (Mackinac Island).I am such a lucky and very grateful person to be able to say I will be returning once more this October with my Husband and very dear friends from U.K. Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards.

    Lynne (from across the pond)

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  12. Thinking of you this week, Jason, as you prepare to come home and start “the rest of your life”. Safe journeys, and please let me know when you are safely in good ole America. So excited for you!

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  13. Agree. The woods are magical! I have told the few people I know who have went to the island that they must get into the interior of the island. There is beauty there. There is peace there. There is quiet there. That is what makes the island so special to me.

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  14. I completely understand. There is something about the Island that just grabs & holds on to some of us. I can still remember my first trip at the age of 15 (we will not say how many years ago that was). Almost as soon as my feet touched the ground leaving the Ferry I felt like was home.

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