On May 11 I wrote about Maddie going after a copperhead in our yard in Georgia and about Ted and I running out of the house and down the steps off the deck to rescue her before she was bitten. I don’t think I mentioned in that story that Ted seriously pulled a muscle in his calf getting off the deck so fast. It has bothered him ever since (I really think he has torn a muscle instead of pulling it). It was getting better until Monday when we arrived on the island and he had to do a LOT of crazy things like climbing in and out of horse-drawn taxis, hauling luggage and boxes up and down two flights of steps at the condo, and riding his bike into town and back up the hill several times on errands and getting supplies to last us until our first trip to Walmart on the mainland.
So this morning when we woke up and started dressing to take the dogs for their walk, (we walk them for an hour every morning before returning to the condo to feed them and have our coffee) he hobbled out of the bathroom and said, “I really don’t think I can make it this morning. Will you take them by yourself?” Now I had been pushing him to rest his leg for several days, but with everything we have had going on, “resting” has not been a top priority for either of us, and this morning it had finally caught up with him.
I glanced at the thermostat (it was 43 degrees outside), and layered up for our walk – long johns followed by jeans, sweatshirt and fleece coat, accessorized with earmuffs and gloves. I know my south Georgia buddies are laughing themselves silly over this getup (it was 90 there the day we left). Anyway, with me looking like an eskimo, the dogs and I headed out.
It was my first morning to walk with them. Ted had taken them Tuesday morning alone, letting me sleep in. We headed around the corner with Maddie trying and NOT succeeding in making it into the state park before she did her business. I whipped out the poop bag and did what any responsible dog owner does – cleaned up after her. A few more steps and we were into the park and deep into the woods (about a 2-minute walk from our condo). As soon as we made the park, I took Bear off his leash and he became FREE DOG!! Maddie, bless her little ferocious heart, has to be kept on leash so she doesn’t terrorize the little critters that inhabit the woods.
An hour and a half later when we returned to the condo, I told Ted that our walk had been the best attitude adjuster I could have asked for. After yesterday’s bad “karma”, I had needed to immerse myself in Mackinac and let it work its magic.
Just watching dogs be dogs is so much fun. They get on that road in the woods (muddy this morning after yesterday’s rain) and there are a thousand new smells for them to enjoy. Horses travel those roads, and islanders walk their dogs there. There are chipmunks, and squirrels (black ones AND grey ones), and rabbits. There are cyclists and walkers going into town to work, or riding just for the fun of it. Yes, there were mudpuddles. But I didn’t even try to keep Bear out of them. He’s a VERY furry dog, and I knew puddles would mean 30 minutes of drying when we got home, but I didn’t care. I just let him go. Maddie stopped every few minutes to sniff out some wonderfully tantalizing aroma on the ground, and I just let her sniff instead of dragging her off and making her behave. They were in doggie Heaven.
We passed acres of trillium, a beautiful flower that blooms wild on the island in the spring. We passed homes where new plants were just beginning to reach for the sun and where blossoms were few, but much in evidence was the promise of more to come.
We walked into the Annex and passed cottages still closed for the winter and a few whose residents had arrived for the season, having hitched up their own horses to luggage carts to bring their belongings to their houses.
Turning for home now, we passed private stables where the horses were still downstate being treated like family pets. Soon they would make the annual move to the island and live in surroundings as luxurious as their owners’ cottages. While here they will be hitched occasionally to their family’s fancy buggy and will be seen pulling their proud owners and their guests around the island roads and trails.
As we started up the the final hill to our condo, we stopped to watch a few of the carriage horses get their morning bath. Over 700 horses carry literally thousands of tourists each day during the summer up the hill to the fort, the butterfly house, and the carriage museum. They also are hitched as two-horse teams to buggies that visitors can drive themselves and to taxis that are driven all over the island. They pull drays from the shipping dock to the shops and restaurants downtown, providing these merchants with everything from t-shirts and souvenirs to lettuce and bread and eggs. And everyday each one of them gets a bath in the morning and another one at night.
We’d been gone for almost two hours. The dogs were tired and happy and hungry for breakfast. And I was at peace once again. I’ve always vowed that Mackinac is magical. It can make petty worries seem senseless and more serious worries seem at least manageable. The magic is alive and well.