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.
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.
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.”
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.