For the Love of an Island 11/1/09

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  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.



30 thoughts on “For the Love of an Island 11/1/09

  1. I will be the first one following you down to GA for the winter and be waiting for you on the dock when you return to Mackinac in the spring.
    SAFE TRAVELing my friends…
    Love, “JIB”

  2. “your heart’s true home” – That did it, I’m in tears. Thank you, thank you Bree for bringing the beauty of the Island to our eyes every day! I plan to read the GA blog regularly and go back and read the MI blog from the beginning this winter.

    My mom moved to South Carolina nearly a decade ago, and I’ve enjoyed discovering the South through those visits, but it will certainly be fun to experience through the words of a true “Southern Belle”. Safe travels and again thank you!


    PS – Shannon you are also in my regular prayers now (from Indiana 🙂 ). May you feel God’s strong arms holding you on your weakest days! Bless you!

  3. How I will miss this view of the Island and how I am looking forward to the Blackshear Blog. Love your plans for the winter and wonder how you are going to get all that done and still have time to PARTY.

    Safe travels and know you have 1000 angel guardians, one for each one of your readers, following you to your other home. I know Maddie and Bear will make the trip well — not so sure about Ted.

    Love you both and be careful.

  4. I’m really going to miss this blog over the winter but I will follow you to Georgia:) Even though I don’t know you other than on-line, I know I would miss you if I didn’t hear about your life often!

    I cant believe that people don’t see how magical the Island is and think, “Once you’ve seen the fudge shops and the fort, what else is there to do?” I for one cannot get enough of the beauty and atmosphere and I hope someday I can have a summer home there also.

    Drive safely!

  5. Brenda, I can’t begin to express how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog this year. You write with such eloquence – you have a gift and we are the beneficiaries.

    I know the Georgia blog will keep us going through the winter, but I can tell you I CAN’T WAIT until the spring arrives and once again your writings turn to the place that quickens the pace of my heart.

  6. Brenda, I can only echo what everyone else has said. I will miss reading about Mackinac Island and can’t wait until your return. I will follow you to your GA blog also, because I would miss YOU if I didn’t. I feel like I know you personally even tho we have never met. Safe travels home Brenda, Ted, Maddie and Bear. Look forward to hearing all about Lake Blackshear.

  7. The island bookstore will be the PERFECT place to sell your book. Before you know it, it will be all over the U.S.!

    Will enjoy your GA blog. You will be a busy lady this winter. Before you know it you and Ted will be on the boat going back to the island. Have a wonderful winter!

    Have a pleasant and safe journey back to GA!

    Judy, Ann Arbor

  8. I was just asking my son how I could keep you blog so I would be able to re-read and take notes for our next trip to the island. A book would be wonderful. I will be first to buy then I will call Oprah!!:D

    I’ve said it before but I will say it again and again..Thank you for your beautiful blog. It is my dream to live on the island too. But I can live on it now through your words and pictures.

    Thanks to Tedd for sharing his Brenda with all of us!
    Thanks to Bear and Maddie for bringing smiles to our faces. Bear will be perfect for the program. Good luck with that.

    I will be reading your winter blog also. Looking forward to some wonderful southern recipes you said you might share.

    Safe travels and wave when you come by Mason area of Cincinnati, or stop in!

    • Too late, Connie. We passed Cincinnati earlier tonight and just stopped in Richmond, KY for the night. Thanks for you loyal support through the summer. See you soon on the lake in Georgia!

  9. I think your blog readers should get first dibbs on purchasing your book!! Smile!! I cannot wait to meet you next summer– I am going to carry a sign that says “show me where Bree lives.”
    I think we should add it to the tour carriage ride!
    Thank you Steph for your Indiana prayers — we need them.
    SAFE travels BREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Thanks for the memories! I will buy a copy of your book and I also want it signed by you!! Take care, I will be following you to Georgia also.

    Be safe!

    Shannon- I am also praying for you!

  11. Oh Bree, here I sit with stinging eyes and fighting tears. You have truly made the island come alive. Thank you for writing such a wonderful blog. My son and I plan to make a return visit to the island next summer and I’m NOT leaving until I get to meet you. Your biggest fan in Kentucky!

    • We stopped in your state to spend the night, after driving for 10 hours. are in Richmond at the Holiday Inn Express – a GREAT place that takesdogs that is CLEAN!!

      We love it!

  12. Jill, if you read this I want that book as soon as you have it in the bookstore. I have more books on Mackinac Island than any person should. I keep everyone of them. This book of your blogs will be extra special to me since I feel like I have met you. Have a safe journey to GA. Waiting for the Ga blog to begin so I can learn more about our country.

  13. You should be well on your way by this time..hope you find a hotel with internet (that will also take your 2 kids) I read today’s blog and thought it can’t be Nov. 1st already but it is and along with you leaving the island it’s our sweetie Alyssa’s last day for the year driving taxi!! Did she take you to the dock???
    I can only repeat what everyone else has said. I will miss reading your wonderful insigts about Mackinac Island and can’t wait until you come back in the spring. I will be checking your Georgia blog daily to see when you get started on it because I will miss my morning dose of Brenda until you get that one up and running. I feel like I know you personally, it was wonderful when we were there the first part of October and met Ted at the Visitor’s Center..what a joy to meet him and now next year we will be looking you up!! Thanks again Brenda for your wonderful blog!! Blessings and may God watch over you, Ted and the “kids” on your way home to Georgia!!

    • Alyssa picked us up this morning and took us to the ferry. I talked to her about you the whole way! Thanks for the well wishes!

  14. I began a search for Mackinac Island when my husband and I were headed up in September for our anniversary. About 16 years ago we came up to the island and began to explore beyond main street and the loop around the base of the island. We’ve been there many times as children, but as adults we began to see a new side of the island. Now, we bring our children up and always make a point to get them on the trails up near the center. We always tell them that if they can climb up the first hill, they are home free. I have enjoyed your blog SO MUCH – THANK YOU! We love the island as well and to read about daily life, and the people living there has been such a treat for me. I found it so interesting that you were from Georgia, yet appreciated how beautiful Michigan can be. I look forward to reading your blog once you are home. We love Savannah, and I’m hoping that might be one of your trips this winter.

  15. (Charlotte), I am just ONE of Bree’s HUGEST fans and I keep rereading the blogs over & over EVERYDAY. I love the writing & all the replies. I’ve tried to copy every blog, when I first started reading (and to share with people with no internet access), but they were 7-9 pages long & our copy machine ran out of ink very quickly! So, I can’t wait for the book to be published. You would not believe how many people came in the Bookstore this summer because they had NOT run into Bree, Maddie or Bear.

  16. Just read that you had my Alyssa take you to the docks when you left…oh how I miss her. Havn’t seen her since May and now she is staying in the UP all winter. I know you can relate with your son being so far away. Thank you for writing this…it made me feel as if I was there..and also thanks again for the pictures you sent. Have a wonderful winter in Georgia!

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