When Ted and I would come to the island for two weeks in the summer, we always stayed downtown. After the late afternoon ferry left each day, carrying the daytrippers back to Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, we would watch as the island made its nightly move from tourist mecca to sleepy village. We were usually here in July, and there were still plenty of visitors on the island after sundown, but most of them were in restaurants eating wonderful dinners or in bars having before or after dinner cocktails, or sitting on their hotel room balconies enjoying the beautiful night. What I always noticed most though were the people who so obviously LIVED here.
Walking around downtown at night on Mackinac Island is like being in a small town back in the 50’s – and I say that as the ultimate compliment. We would see people walking by with a bag of groceries from Doud’s and know they were heading home, not back to a hotel. People would be standing on the sidewalks chatting, talking over picket fences to friends, hailing someone they knew in the streets, and sitting on the bench in front of the post office talking about the day with other islanders. There was such a warmth to the people, and I would think – “Wow, I would love to be a part of this.”
The island itself has always called me – this is a beautiful place with a magical spirit. And now, after almost two seasons here as a summer resident, I am beginning to feel the magic of the island’s people also. Jill, my friend and the official Mackinac Island “communicator”, has introduced me to so many folks that I am constantly asking her to “tell me again who that is”. I am beginning to put a lot of faces with a lot of names, and I feel very humbled to be included in invitations to “come over” and “drop in”.
Last night I went to a “soup and salad” get together at a home downtown. There were well over 40 ladies there, and everyone had brought a salad (or a side dish of some sort) or a dessert. The hostess had made soup for everyone. In the south, we call these “pot luck” suppers. My condo friend, Judy from Arizona, calls them “pass arounds”. Whatever the name, the food was out of this world. As a southerner born and bred, I thought I had seen every recipe that had ever been penned for a salad. But last night I must have piled at least 6 different salads on my plate, and I had never tasted anything like any of them. I kept asking the hostess who had brought what and where could I find a pen and paper to write down recipes. As with all good cooks though, you can guess what they said . . . “Oh, I just threw in a little of this and a pinch of that – whatever I had on hand!” Well, whatever they were throwing and pinching sure came out tasting mighty good!
Here’s another small town image – walking home after dark. After stuffing myself silly, and laughing and talking for quite some time, we all began to gather up our leftovers (I had taken a corn salad) and prepare to leave. It was almost dark by then, and we were all headed home in different directions. It never one time entered my mind to worry about the trek up the hill to our condo. I felt perfectly safe. When I turned the corner going up Cadotte toward the Grand, the last ribbons of sunlight were bouncing off a few wispy clouds over the trees. The lights were on up the center of the street, and the Grand was aglow.
Continuing on past the Grand, I was passed by at least 10 people on bikes – some in groups of two or three, some alone. There were other walkers on the road also. I was never alone on the hill, but even if I had been, I would have still felt safe. That’s just the way it is here.
We awoke this morning to thick fog which quickly burned off. It was warm again, and Ted and our neighbor Duck went to play golf at the Grand. Ted has been trying to do that all summer, and he finally made it this morning. It was his first trip to a golf course on a bicyle, and it was a little different than just throwing your clubs in the trunk of your car!
My good friend Pat from Albany, GA brought a tour group to Mackinac Island today. There are two guides and 86 people in the group, and they are staying at the Grand. I went down to meet them late this afternoon when they arrived at the Shepler Dock. Oh my gosh, it was so good to see someone from home!
When Ted arrived back from playing what he thought would be 9 holes of golf, they had played 36! Talk about tired! He was so excited because he didn’t have to bring his clubs back up the hill, leaving them in storage at the Pro Shop instead.
Tomorrow I’m meeting Pat over at the Carriage Museum at the end of her group’s tour, and we are going to spend the afternoon together. Ted and I will join the group Wednesday night for dinner at the Grand. I cannot wait to spend time with Pat and show her this beautiful island and introduce her hopefully to some new friends I have made here.
NOTE: The air changed today between 11:30 a.m., when I walked Maddie and Bear, and 3:00 p.m., when I started down the hill on my bike to meet Pat’s ferry. In that short time, a definite chill had crossed the island, and a steady breeze made it feel even cooler. We have had three weeks of beautiful, warm, sunny days in a row. Maybe that was our summer – we’ll see.