Nature – A Writer’s Best Friend 6/10/2011

WE HAVE A WINNER for the “Mystery Spot” contest at the end of this post. The winner is Barb Metting, who is from Michigan.  Her correct response was “Cindy’s Riding Stable”.   Scroll to the bottom for the full photo of the Mystery Spot.

At home in Georgia, on days when I had no appointments (when you reach my age you have a LOT of appointments) or therapy sessions with Bear planned, I could spend the whole day doing absolutely nothing more strenuous than turning the pages of a book or watching a Netflix movie or two.  I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about it either.  Here, if I sit down with a book and happen to glance out the front sliding glass doors, I think, “Maybe I’ll take a walk” or “I think I’ll go for a bike ride”.  On the island the urge to get outside and DO something is almost as strong as the urge to eat (and lucky for me, the more I do of one, the more I can do the other – without yucky side effects like having to move the button over on the waistband of my capris).  I think I finally figured it out though.  Kahlil Gibran said, “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”  I think ole Kahlil was onto something there.  In Georgia, where summer temps top 100 degrees more days than we want to think about, doing anything more aerobic than walking to the refrigerator is considered “exercise”.  On Mackinac Island, hiking trails for two hours, or biking around the 8.2 mile circumference of the island is called “having fun”.  And you’re so tired at the end of the day after having all that fun that you fall into bed at night and sleep like you’ve been training for a marathon – which you basically have been (well, maybe a mini-marathon).

It’s all about how we get around here on Mackinac.  Take Monday for instance . . .

I walked downtown and met a new friend (Kathy Petersen) who had invited me to lunch at the Seabiscuit Cafe. Kathy and Marcia Dunnigan have a website and blog about Mackinac Island, and it is a wonderful one - - I mean, seriously, these ladies know their island! On the blog part of the site, they post articles about festivals, entertainment, island how-to's, restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. And sometime they interview someone who loves the island as much as they do - on this particular day it was me. Since I'm usually the one doing the interviewing, it was a whole different experience, but with Kathy it was like talking with my new best friend. We had a blast (and ate some really good food), then I started home.


The plan was to capture the blooming lilacs on the trip back to the condo, and you've already seen some of those pics this week. Starting for home from Main Street, and planning to walk up Fort Hill, my eyes went immediately to Fort Mackinac . . . just in time to see dozens of visitors making their way up the front ramp into the front gate.


This little house sits at the intersection of Fort and Turkey Hills. Whether it's lilac season, or later in the summer, it is always surrounded by some of the prettiest flowers on the island. It's just one of those little "fairy-tale" cottages that you find here.


Making it up Fort Hill is always a slow walk for me, but never more slowly than lilac season. Each step reveals more beauty for me to try and capture. Looking out over the Jewel Golf Course, I could just make out the steeple of Little Stone Church - then the Straits of Mackinac.


Just before the top of the hill, I looked out past three unbelievably big lilac trees to the Straits and both lighthouses. The colorful kites sparkling in the sun only make the scene more perfect.


Instead of turning left at the top of the hill, I chose to walk home the "back way" - down Custer Road, which is entirely wooded. The shade-loving forget-me-nots were flourishing beside the road, then spreading out into the woods like the softest of homespun blankets.


In the distance the road divides. Just at the fork, I turned sharply left onto a trail through more woods.


Parts of the trail are green on both sides, with trees fully leaved. The trilliums are almost all gone, but the forget-me-nots are abundant, and lilies of the valley have been spotted this week. The lady slippers won't be far behind.


On other parts of the trail, greenery is less plush. Old trees rise skyward and look dead - until you look up and see their tops. Where they touch the sun, they are green.


Throughout the forests of Mackinac, trees fall each year - some from old age, some from the weight of too much snow during the winter, some from high winds. This small tree was uprooted during the winter and was leaning over the path, . . .


. . . . resting against another tree. Soon a park service employee will cut it down and move it, so there's no danger to hikers along the trail.


Toward the end of the trail, the pathway slopes upward and becomes more obstructed with large rocks and thick tree roots. It is here that Ted and I get off and walk if we've ridden our bikes up this trail.


The trail ends on Carriage Road, where I turned right, then made a sharp left . . . .


. . . after waiting for a carriage full of visitors to pull out of the road I was about to go down.


Which is why there is a "Do Not Enter" sign on that road. The trick is to LISTEN INTENTLY before starting down the road. If you live here, you learn to gauge the sounds of the carriage traffic coming from the other end of the road and can quickly walk the hundred yards while another carriage is loading.


After that hundred yards, I break into the sunshine at the back of the Carriage Museum . . .


. . . yell "hello" to the workers unloading more visitors and maybe stop long enough to give the horses a treat . . .


. . . and I'm home!


The point of the whole little journey I just took you on is this. I left the condo at 11 a.m. to walk downtown for lunch with Kathy. I arrived back home around 2 in the afternoon. Except for the hour at lunch and the stops to take photos, I was in constant motion the rest of the time - walking, climbing hills, avoiding rocks and fallen trees and carriages. But I never once thought about it as "exercising" - I was having fun and enjoying nature at its best.

On Tuesday I walked downtown to the Stuart House Museum to start my volunteer work for the season.  Almost before I sat down, a blog reader came in, and I’m embarrassed to say I lost the paper where I wrote down her name – I think it was Karen, and she was on the island visiting for several days.  My apologies if I remembered incorrectly – it was truly lovely meeting you. 

Later in the morning, Jill and Frankie stopped in to wish me a Happy Birthday. I stopped celebrating those last year when I hit 62, but they insisted it WAS my birthday, and there was nothing I could do about it. Jill brought the lilacs for my desk, and Frankie brought chocolate-covered strawberries. All right, all right - it was my birthday.


Even Hershey got into the act!


Just when I was about to leave, a group of "trainees" for Carriage Tours came in to see the museum. Part of their orientation is to visit the historical buildings downtown that they'll be talking about on their tours. The young ladies in this group were all from Michigan, one young man was from California and the other from Colorado. So cute! So . . . young!

I spent Wednesday in Cheboygan while Bear was groomed.  The weather was bad that day, with high winds and white caps on the Straits.  Both ferry rides were not Bear’s idea of fun.  Going over he was practically in my lap the whole way, and coming back he hid behind me in the seat.  Once he climbed on the taxi going home and spread out across the seat like he owned it, he was fine. 
And that has been the week so far.  Here are a few more random photos . . .

This was taken in Chief "Duck" Andress' yard. Bear was rolling around in the grass, and Duck's dog "Gizmo" couldn't figure out why this "mammoth" had invaded his territory. Right after this, Gizmo chased Bear around Duck's house about five times. He never caught the Bearster, but he sure wore him out!


The edge of our backyard, with lilacs blooming. A horse had thrown a shoe, and someone picked it up out of the street and hung it on the fence.


Mike, of S & S Cottage and Lawn Care, getting the condo flowers into the ground for the season. He and Gary always make our yard look great for the summer.


Our little "corner" of the world.


Maddie, getting ready to "make her nest" . . .


. . . all ready for her nap now.

One more order of business . . . the “Mystery Spot” Contest, and – as promised – it’s an easy one this week!  The object is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to!  And the Mystery Spot is . . . .

Where is this horse silhouette located?

Again, please email your answers to me at PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.
See you on Monday with all the weekend happenings.  It’s the beginning weekend of the Lilac Festival, and it’s going to be a doozy!  Have a great weekend, and God bless.
Note:  Blog title taken from quote by Agave’ Powers, “Nature is a Writer’s Best Friend”.

This week's Mystery Spot was the horse silhouette on the door at Cindy's Riding Stable on Market Street.


18 thoughts on “Nature – A Writer’s Best Friend 6/10/2011

  1. I love the pictures, especially of Maddie getting ready for bed. ha ha ha

    But really the pictures of the interior of the island are gorgeous.

  2. Reading your blog and viewing your pictures is like taking a little 15 minute vacation (I read slow or I gaze into your pictures a little toooooo long) in the middle of my week. Very refreshing.

    Oh….and happy birthday!

  3. First of all,, Happy Birthday and many more. Looking at all these lilac pictures makes me so homesick for the island. As a gardener myself, Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers and I see you mentioned lily’s-of-the-valley are coming round……geez I want to get on the next ferry.

    Thank you so much for all the pictures. When you have a minute would you mind taking a few snaps of the Windermere Hotel’s flowers? We’ve been staying there for many years and I always plant myself on the porch and look at their beautiful flowers.

  4. Mackinac Island always amazes me with all the beautiful things to see!
    Can’t explain just how much it means to me!
    Thank-you for sharing it in the wonderful way you do Bree!

  5. Happy Birthday again Brenda! I love Mackinac Island Insider Tips. It’s on my favorite list, and I am on their newsletter list also. Love reading it. Awesome pictures, love all the forget-me-nots. They are one of my favorite flowers. Gosh! I just LOVE Springtime!!

    Maddie sure is a cutie when she’s getting ready for bed. 🙂

  6. Brenda,

    Oh! Oh! Oh!

    What a beautiful walk you gave me this morning.

    Happy Birthday. I would sing it to you, but you might never have another birthday for fearing I would sing again.

    Ted sure is fortunate to have such a pretty young lady for a wife -and wonderful photographer and writer besides.

  7. Happiest of Birthdays to you!

    I loved the Gibran quote-it’s a good one to remember. Thanks much!

    Hope your weekend is lovely and you get a nice Birthday lunch or dinner somewhere!

  8. Happy Birthday! I vote for a lunch and/or dinner treat, too, at favorite restaurants.

    That Maddie sure picks pretty places to tuck up. Such a sweetie! You do have two of the world’s cutest dogs, you know!

  9. Happy Birthday Bree!
    Thanks for sharing all the joy and adventure to be had on the island. I just wanted to remind you of the idea for doing a blog about the emergency staff on the island. ie Police/Fire/EMS. Honestly reading your blog in the morning is the way I start my day here down state.

    A Blessed and Fun Fill Weekend

  10. It seems you had a great Birthday ,Interview, Lunch, Walk and Picture taking day. You go girl. I think I can make it up the woodsy trail on my old man’s scooter (if Ted was willing to carry me part way). No, I really wouldn’t do that to Ted. Enjoy all your blogs. Y’all take care.

  11. I knew it was at Cindys only after I saw the whole picture! I’ve looked thru that window a few times. I cant believe I did not recognize it. grrrrr Hay the next time you take a taxi if the drivers are Kyra or Jackie, those are my girls. I’m going back up in a couple of weeks maybe I’ll see you.

  12. It’s nearly 20 years ago now, but I still recognized the mystery picture *INSTANTLY* – For a summer, it was one of the first things I saw in the morning, and the last I saw before I called it a day. Y’see, I spent a couple of summers as a saddle guide for each of Jack’s and Cindy’s stables, and for the summer I was with Cindy’s, I lived in the apartment behind the door just to the right of it. Looks like the only thing that’s changed over the years is the addition of the numbers above the doors. Gods, the memories…

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