What is the deal with Fridays in October this year on the island? Beginning October 2 with our Girls Night Out in a gale, every Friday this month has had outrageous weather! And this past Friday was no exception.
I mentioned last week that we (Jill, Diane and I) were going to hear Don Piper and Jennifer O’Neill speak to the Win-Some Women’s Retreat at the Grand on Saturday morning. When I left the condo to walk down to the Grand, it was raining, cold, and the wind almost knocked me off my feet. I had on a turtleneck long-sleeved top, a sweater, a zip-up fleece jacket, and my rain jacket/hood. Over the hood I put my earmuffs (to hold the hood on my head). Then rain gloves. Everything was protected except my jeans from mid-thigh down (where the rain jacket ended). They were soaked by the time I got where I was going. Jill and Diane were already there, having biked up – they were totally dry because THEY HAVE RAIN PANTS! Believe me, I have an L.L. Bean catalog all marked with rain gear I want for Christmas this year.
We made our way upstairs to the conference room where the speakers were presenting. There were a thousand women already there, and we found three seats in the back of the room on the far left side. It didn’t matter – there were huge screens set up around the room, so even if you couldn’t see the speaker directly, you still had a close-up view.
We had our schedules wrong, and we had missed Jennifer O’Neill, but Don Piper (90 Minutes in Heaven) was fabulous. His story is one of the most inspiring and miraculous I have ever heard, and I will be reading his book when we get home. It is always amazing what God can do, but when you hear up close and personal a true miracle story, it is an awesome experience. And to have that “miracle” – who was pronounced dead at the scene of an accident, stayed dead for an hour and a half, had two limbs severed, was impaled on the steering wheel, and had serious head injuries – stand in front of you on a stage walking and talking, with both his own arms and legs attached and working just fine – well, it just makes your heart soar.
After Piper’s presentation, all the Win-Some Women were going to a luncheon. We weren’t attending that, and Diane had to leave to get to work. Carleton’s Tea Store at the Grand was selling box lunches which included cups of soup, so Jill and I picked up a couple of those and went up to the Cupola to eat and watch the – by then – serious storm that had moved in. You know how I love to watch bad weather, and although this one lacked thunder and lightning altogether, it was big on rain and wind. To experience that in a room four flights up, surrounded by windows, was totally awesome, and I loved every minute. It also gave us a birds-eye view of what was taking place below us.
The passage from Mackinaw City to the island is a lot further and in more open water than the passage from St. Ignace to the island. Therefore, in weather like we were having, it was just safer to cancel the ferries to Mac City. So the Arnold cats were carrying people off the island to St. Ignace. Which was fine if you had come to the island from St. Ignace. If not, you were arriving where your car was not. So shuttles were carrying people across the Mackinac Bridge to their cars in Mac City. There was another concern that the bridge would be closed, but that never happened.
Add to all of that the logistics of getting 1,000 women to the ferry docks from the Grand and 500 people from the ferry docks to the Grand. Taxi service has already been cut because it is so late in the season, but the taxis were hauling as many people each trip as they possibly could, and the Grand horse-drawn omnibuses were doing the same. We watched as taxi after taxi and bus after bus came and went from the Grand. The drivers, even with rain gear and rubber blankets, were drenched to the skin, but I never heard one word of complaint. The Grand porters stood in the rain and unloaded and loaded people hour after hour – no complaints.
The Arnold Line did an exceptional job insuring that everyone that needed to get off the island got off, and everyone who wanted to be on the island got here. There were some who chose to come back to the Grand after seeing what the water looked like on the Straits that day. But many safely crossed. As for me, I waited until a taxi pulled up that still had passengers left on board, after everyone else had gotten off at the Grand. I would ask, “Are you taking someone to the Village?” Usually the answer was no, but finally Jeanine pulled up with two passengers who were going my way. I climbed aboard and made it home around 4 o’clock.
Even though we have been on Mackinac Island for two seasons, there are still many days when I learn something new about living here. Friday was a learning day. Is this the easiest place to live and work? Absolutely not. But there is such a pride here in getting the job done in even the harshest conditions – and getting it done using the means at hand – horses. Watching everyone pull together Friday to pull off a monumental task made me so proud to be part of this community. Through it all, people worked together to assure that the problems were solved, the visitors were taken care of, and never once was the integrity of this special place threatened. People take care of each other here – in business and in their personal lives. That’s one of the reasons I love it so. There are many more.
Note: A light moment during all the drama Friday afternoon was watching these four cute little girls discover a phone booth for the first time. They had never seen one! Talk about making me feel ancient!