After two weeks of temperatures in the mid-80’s and humidity higher than normal for the Island, the first hint of Autumn has made its presence known. Two nights ago a line of storms moved across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and swept south across Mackinac, leaving much needed moisture in its wake. When we awoke the next morning, the winds were up, and they continued to blow for a full 48 hours. They were steady at 15 mph, with gusts up to 30. The winds weren’t warm – they carried enough chill that Ted and I dug out sweatshirts and blue jeans. Ferries cancelled trips under the Mackinac Bridge, and daytrippers talked of bumpy rides across the Straits.
As sad as it makes me in some ways, the fact is I can’t wait for Fall – it has always been my favorite time of year. Stanley Horowitz said, “Winter is an etching, Spring a watercolor, Summer an oil painting, and Fall a mosaic of them all.” On Mackinac Island, we are blessed to be able to stroll through the entire museum of nature’s art – each season so sharply defined that we can walk down a path to the end of summer, find a door, open it, and walk through into fall.
We are almost to fall’s door now. The signs are everywhere.
There are new taxi and Carriage Tour drivers – the season drivers, who are mostly college students, have returned to their classes or home for a visit with family before fall semester begins. Shops downtown have “Help Wanted” signs in their windows, and anyone needing a job for only a couple of months could surely find one here in a retail store. With new drivers and store workers come new smiles and new people to meet and get to know – if only for a few brief weeks. I miss the faces of summer, but the faces of autumn bring new spirit. As I sit and write this, the Carriage Tour wagons are lining up for the end of their day right outside our condo. A new driver I’ve just noticed in the last few days drove up a few minutes ago singing, and in no time the entire line of drivers had launched into “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown”. And so the work goes on.
The geese have arrived. There are a few around all summer, but this week great flocks have flown in on their arrow-shaped flight patterns and landed with gusto on the lawn in front of the condos. Bear has gone into “clear the yard” mode and has appointed himself Chief Goose Chaser for our hill. Last year he did it so efficiently that the tired geese finally chose another spot to land.
For the last two mornings, when I’ve gotten up, Ted has had the electric fireplace going and the “heat feature” turned on. At night we sleep without all the windows open, and I’ve traded summer pj’s for something a little more substantial. If this keeps up, I’ll put the down comforter back on the bed when I next change the sheets. Highs are in the 60’s now – but maybe I’ll wait for the 50’s to do that. Funny – I don’t think I took the comforter off the bed until the end of June.
The sky at night is blacker now, the stars more brilliant. There was a song a few years ago about the stars being “holes in Heaven”. That’s a good visual for me. Looking up into that black, black sky and imagining those sparkling stars are really glimpses into the brilliance of our Heavenly home. It seems, in the fall, the brilliance is even more pronounced.
And then there are the flowers. They are still oil paintings – to be viewed from a little distance, as you would in a museum. When you approach with a camera for a closeup, you can see just the beginnings of the mosaic – a dried leaf here, a seed pod there. I think we still have 2-3 weeks of summer beauty left for the flowers – and then the heart-stopping panorama of fall will be on us.
Today I was wandering around looking for a visual to put with this post – something that would say “autumn is just around the corner”. I found it at Mission Point. Every year the resort plants a bank of Black-Eyed Susans, and when I rounded that last curve off Main Street, there it was.
Thomas Wolfe said, “Then summer fades and passes . . . We’ll smell smoke then, and feel an unexpected sharpness, a thrill of nervousness, swift elation, a sense of sadness and departure.”
All that is to come with September and October. For now, I’ll just await the mosaic of fall.