Before I begin the final blog of this season on Mackinac Island, I want to invite each of you to follow us down south to our home in Georgia for the winter. We live on a beautiful lake about three hours south of Atlanta and about one hour north of the Florida border. In the summer, it is HOT – which is why we come to Michigan. But in the winter, we can have temps in the 30’s for a few days, then be back in the 60’s for a few weeks. If it snows there, which might happen once every ten years, it is a BIG DEAL. The whole place shuts down just so we can go outside and play in it!
I won’t be blogging every day in Georgia, and here’s why. I have two major goals for the winter. One is to work on turning this blog into a book before next spring. That will be a monumental task, and if it gets done by then, it will take a minor miracle. But the Island Bookstore wants to sell it, and they think there is a market for it. That remains to be seen, but there is an awful lot of work to do to have it ready. The other goal is to work with Bear and get him certified as a Therapy Dog before the spring. I can do that through a program in a city near where we live, and if he is certified, I will be working him in hospitals and nursing homes in Georgia over the winter. Then, I hope to be able to continue to work him somewhere close by the island next summer.
So – my plan now is to blog in Georgia three to four days a week. Since I don’t live in a tourist destination, the Georgia blog will have a totally different format. I will keep you updated on the book and on Bear, but you will learn a lot about Georgia. Ted and I are planning some trips to several locales we think you will find interesting. You will also learn a lot about our friends on the lake, and a lot about our family. AND, with the help of Jennifer Bloswick, who works at the Grand, there will be pictures of Mackinac Island as it settles into winter. Jennifer’s husband helps keep the island trails groomed for snowmobiles and cross country skiers, and he takes some great photographs.
The address for the blog in Georgia is http://bree1976.wordpress.com. In case any of you are “wonderers”, the 1972 in the Mackinac Island blog is the year of my oldest son’s birth, and the 1976 in the Georgia blog is the year my youngest son was born. That site is under construction, but you are welcome to stop by anytime just to see if it is up and running. In fact, Maddie insisted on writing a note there today, so you might want to check it out. When it is ready, I will also post a note on THIS site to let you know.
Will this site continue next summer – absolutely! I feel like I have made hundreds of new on-line friends this summer, and I don’t want to lose any of you. But I do hope you come south with me – get on board, we southerners do know how to have fun!
Now . . . . . . . .
Let me tell you a story. Ted and I were walking downtown Wednesday morning, going to the ferry to cross to St. Ignace. We rounded a corner, and Mike (he is in charge of Carriage Tours downtown, which closed down for the season about a week ago) was coming toward us on his bike. “Brenda,” he said, “Did you lose your camera case?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. I remembered briefly looking for it that morning to put my camera in to carry on the ferry, but had just figured it was buried under something in the condo.
“Well,” Mike said, “Someone found one on a taxi a couple of days ago, and we think it’s yours.”
I wondered how many people had been on taxis with cameras in the last few days. I told Mike I would check when we got back home, but I didn’t think it was mine.
We walked a few more blocks and ran into Smi Horn, going to the ferry also. Smi is the Mayor Pro Tem and our neighbor in the Village. “Brenda,” he said. “Did you lose your camera case?”
I laughed out loud. “I didn’t know I did, but now I am beginning to wonder,” I said.
“Well, someone turned one in over at the Lenox, and everyone thinks it’s yours.” I told him we would go by the Lenox when we got back from St. Ignace.
We crossed over, looked at electric fireplaces (no decision), came back, saw Jill off, ate at Millie’s, went to the post office, then went to the Lenox, an office building for the city. The first person I saw was Sheri, who works in the office where you pay for dray services.
“Hi, Sheri,” I said.
“Hi! Did you lose your camera case?” she asked. And she turned around and pulled my camera case out of a drawer.
“I didn’t even know I had lost it! How did you know it was mine?”
It seems that Sheri had been on a taxi a couple of days ago and found the case on the seat. She asked the driver who had been on his taxi that day. Two of his riders had been “that couple up at Surrey Ridge with Bear and Maddie” (still known by our dogs, as you can see).
Sheri said she figured it was mine since I have been the one running all over town taking pictures all summer.
So my camera case and I were reunited, even before I knew it was missing.
That story sums up in a few words the reason why this is such a special place to me. Over this summer, I have been everywhere on this island meeting people, taking pictures, and asking questions. I’d say we know an equal number of seasonal and year-round residents. Living where we do in the Village has allowed us to meet both groups. We have been welcomed by everyone – not immediately in some cases – but over time, the welcome has been extended. I remember one day this summer a gentlemen who lives in the Village, someone I had never seen speak to anyone, called “Hi” to me from across the road. I was so happy, I almost cried, and we are now on a first name basis.
Mackinac Island is not for everyone. We have been in restaurants downtown, and we have heard tourists say, “Once you’ve seen the fudge shops and the fort, what else is there to do?” Ted usually has to hold me in my seat so I won’t jump up, join them at their table, and explain that they haven’t even scratched the surface of the island. Of course I wouldn’t do that, but I sure have wanted to.
We have made many “beginner” friends, folks that over the summers to come, we hope we will forge real friendships with. And one friend – Jill – I already feel I have known all my life. An accidental connection? I don’t think so. I think God puts special people in our lives for special reasons.
I began this blog because I love Mackinac Island and because folks back home in Georgia wanted a way to keep in touch with us. It began with 12 readers. Now I have around 700 a day, and sometimes get eight or nine hundred. One day, I almost reached 1,000. Why? Because there are so many people out there who love this island like I do and want to know everything about it. Oh, I don’t mean the touristy stuff – although there are those questions also. But most want to know what it is like to LIVE here – and for those folks, this blog has filled a niche.
I feel incredibly blessed to be able to spend 5 1/2 months here each year. As I have said before, this island spoke to me when I first set foot on the ferry dock in June of 2000, and it continues to speak to me every day. Its words come to me everywhere – in the woods, on the hills, past the horse barns, in the spring tulips, at the water’s edge, through the summer flowers, and from the fall leaves. And the words are always the same – your heart belongs here, and it always will. I will give you joy and happiness and laughter. I will give you peace and quiet and rest and calm and contentment. You may travel to other places and love to visit there. But only here will you find your heart’s true home. Only here.
The people in Georgia – our family and our friends – are who will always carry us back there, and I have a deep longing to get back to them now. There will never be anyone on the island who will know me and love me like these precious people in Georgia do. They are my foundation and my history – people I have known and loved, in some cases, practically since birth, others for years and years. I bring my love for them with me when we come here. The friends and family who came to visit this summer have begun to understand the love I have for this place, and they know it doesn’t diminish at all the love in my heart for them. In a perfect world, we could have the people we love the most in the place we love the most. But here on earth, that seldom happens. That’s what I believe Heaven will be like – all of our loved ones gathered together in the most perfect place ever. Can you imagine the joy!
Good Lord willing, we will all meet again right here on this island blog next spring. I hope, through me this summer, you have grown to know Mackinac Island better and to love it even more. And whether it is here, or another magical place, I wish you all your heart’s true home. God bless.