Friends who have already returned to the island let me know this week that I might want to check the weather before we start north. It was snowing on the island yesterday and 23 degrees! Good grief, Mother Nature, let’s get with the program here!
I’ve got a brand new newsletter from Greg Main for you this week and some great photos, so here we go.
You remember that last year the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Museum opened in the Indian Dormitory building on the island. Well, on May 13 the museum will debut Richard Wolfgang: A Life of Painting exhibition, and I can’t wait to get to the island to see it. Richard (Dick) and his wife Helen have become good friends over the years, and at the end of last season they permanently closed their gallery. Ted and I visited that gallery the very first time we were on Mackinac – in 2000 – looking for a special momento to take home. We purchased a signed lithograph of Dick’s Haldimand Bay Harbor, and they shipped it to us matted and framed. It has hung over our bed at the lake house ever since, and it makes me smile everytime I look at it.
The exhibit will include a treasure trove of Dick’s works, including many Mackinac Island-related paintings. Phil Porter, director of the Mackinac Historic State Parks, said “We are honored to have this retrospective collection of Mr. Wolfgang’s paintings on display at the art museum. He has been a prominent island artist whose work is loved and appreciated by island residents and visitors alike.” From 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 12, the public is invited to celebrate Wolfgang and his work at the Richard Wolfgang: A Life in Painting exhibition open house, held at the art museum. The free event will feature short comments, music, and light refreshments.
Shepler’s Ferry started running one of their “fast boats” – the Capt. Shepler – from St. Ignace to the island this week – the first ferry company to offer fast service this season.
I was able to get a few more great “behind the scenes” photos from the Grand Hotel’s Facebook page this week:
I sure missed receiving a newsletter from Greg Main last week, but he more than made up for it this week! Here’s the latest:
There is something about April when it comes to living on this island. Actually, there are several ‘somethings’ about April. The anticipation of ferry service beginning after a few weeks of speculation and rumors are bandied about, the end of winter doldrums arrive as temperatures slowly begin creeping upward on a (hopefully) weekly basis, the return of many songbirds and other aviary noise makers also indicate the arrival of Spring-like conditions, usually the first-of-the-year heavy rains fall, which not only helps clean the thoroughfares but softens the soil and begins greening the grass and, as the first ferry of the new season arrives, so, too, do familiar faces, scores of horses and enough freight to keep drays running nearly from sunup to sundown.
Another aspect of April are the sporadic openings of the various eating/drinking establishments. It’s a tradition amongst many to appear on opening day at said businesses to greet the owners and veteran employees and meet some of the rookies, welcoming all of them with smiles, hugs and handshakes and to spend an hour or two exchanging quips, quotes and myriad stories in response to the usual questions regarding how and where one spent the winter months. April is not only the month of renewal but also change. Some businesses may have changed names and/or locations. Some businesses may no longer be here, some may be starting anew and always there are new people, seasonal employees, to add to the mix. April may not be at the very top of my list of favorite months (it’s very hard to beat warm days in September and October), but it does run a very close second.
Downtown is slowly coming to life again. As the daylight hours increase, so does activity in the business district. By this time next month, I would wager that most, if not all, businesses will have open doors. Everywhere along Main and Market Streets, the usual pre-season sounds echo. Building exteriors are beginning to be scraped and painted to the accompaniment of oft-times-too-loud music blaring from a paint-splattered radio which is usually placed directly on the sidewalk in order to allow anyone and everyone passing by (also, anyone within 100 feet or so) to enjoy the soothing sounds of bands who find it necessary to make enough noise with their instruments to compensate for their lack of lyrical ability. Other common sounds echoing about are hammering, power washing, air compressors and, as of this past Tuesday afternoon, perhaps the last running of a snowmobile down the Arnold dock as it was being loaded onto a ferry for transport off the island.
Of course, with April comes a change in the weather. Rain is expected as much as it is needed. Rain, yes. Snow, no! While we didn’t receive as much as we could have according to our local weather forecasters, it was a bit disheartening to look out the window last night to see snow flakes being highlighted by the street lights. We awoke this morning to white roofs and yards. Ugh! By early this afternoon, enough sun began poking through to melt most of it and although our long-range forecast doesn’t indicate any more of this wintry precipitation, our temperatures look as though they will continue to remain below normal for at least the next week or so. The typical early-blooming flowers have already made appearances at various places, and tulips and daylillies are beginning to protrude at a rapid pace. As I was collecting the last of our ski trail makers last week, I noticed several different types of wild flowers in bloom, basking in the afternoon sun. I would like to say which day that was but they all seem to be running together lately, and I’m getting rather busy with annual to-do lists.
We seem to have experienced more high-wind days this month than I recall from years past. Recently, one such persistent gale from the southeast snapped the flag pole which stands inside the fort. I’m told about 40 feet of it succumbed. Friday was another of those 30 mile-per-hour plus days. It blew from the southeast with such intensity that one of my co-workers remarked; “one shouldn’t have to pedal down hill!” A few others I spoke to who also live in Harrisonville, also made similar comments. All day and all night Friday, it continued. Still howling as I awoke Saturday, huge breakers were spraying the boardwalk in front of the Benjamin’s and Cable cottages. It was one of those days when biking was great depending on which direction you were heading. Finding it necessary to continue on with my aforementioned list of things to do, I was on the east bluff a good deal of the day, expecting to find tree limbs and window shutters missing. Fortunately, all was well in that neck of the woods.
One unusual thing about this particular day happened as the weather front passed over us. As expected, the wind died to almost nil as the low pressure sat directly over us. Flags suddenly hung limp and we were no longer affected by the wind chill. What amazed me most about this scenario was how quickly and completely the lake calmed. While it was nowhere near what one could call, ’glassy’, the huge white-capped, surf-pounding waves of just one hour prior had simply stopped. The surface wasn’t so much as choppy. It was reminiscent, to a small degree, of a time many years ago when one of my grandmothers and I experienced being in the ’eye’ of what was later determined to be a tornado. We didn’t have the deathly quiet and complete stillness here, but I was simply taken by how quickly the lake changed faces. Within a few hours, though, we were catching the back end of this same low pressure system, and the wind then began howling at a similar strength, this time from the west, churning the wave machine again and ushering in the snow we saw this morning.
With all three boat lines now being given the o.k. to operate, one more hurdle has been cleared as far as getting back to April’s normalcy. Long gone is the thick ice remaining in the Straits which forced Arnold to take the long route around the north end of the island for the better part of the first two weeks. It was good to be on the first boat off the island in order to get a different perspective of the island again and to reacquaint myself with the quirks and nuances of driving my vehicle again, but once was enough as it took nearly 50 minutes, one-way. As I crested Fort Hill on Wednesday, I was surprised to see two moving vans in the road at the Governor’s residence. I’m told 22 beds were removed, being replaced with brand new ones.