Closing the Windows 3/16/17

Personal Note:  Loved reading back over this post, although some of it is bittersweet.  When this post was first written, Cadotte was lined with those old, beautiful, 65′ trees, all of which were lost to disease.  But Grand Hotel replanted and the new trees are growing fast and are already so beautiful in the fall.  I know Ted and I won’t be around when these reach 65′, but others will.  Life goes on, trees are lost, replanted, and grow tall once more.  ______________________________________________________________________

First Published 9/30/09

Almost 11 a.m. Tuesday morningThe wind is surging through the trees and whistling around the corners of the condo.  We have all the windows closed for the first time since we arrived in May, but all the shades are up as far as they will go, because I love watching changing weather.

I’m even a big fan of storms – the “thunder booming, lightning flashing, strong winds, heavy rains” kind of storms.  If it was storming when I was a little girl, my mom used to sit curled up on the couch praying for it to end as soon as possible.  I would be standing at the window watching it all with sparkling eyes (I had to go to my bedroom to do this – mom wouldn’t have let me near a window in the room where she was).  To me, storms have always been a real-life, technicolor, block-buster extravaganza of nature – much better than watching movies or TV – no matter how great a surround sound system you have.

From the deck this morning, the dark clouds hung low and brooding over Lake Huron, and the temperature was hoovering in the low 40’s.    I noticed for the first time that the bushes in front of the horse corral at the end of our yard have shed enough leaves to lay bare the fence.  Soon we will be able to see the horses once again when they are turned out each night.

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I do admit to having no desire to actually be outside in all that wind.  While Ted took Maddie and Bear out this morning, I snuggled in under the down comforter I had added to the bed this weekend.  I knew, sooner or later, my turn would come to go out with them, so I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.  More later.

6:36 p.m. late Tuesday afternoonThe wind has died down, but the temperature has started down also.  It’s 47 right now, with the low Wednesday morning forecast for 30.  So instead of a very windy trip to Cheboygan with Bear today, I’ve opted to take him tomorrow on the coldest morning we’ve had.  The trip down the hill at 8:30 a.m. to catch the 9 a.m. ferry is not going to be fun, but at least there won’t be wind, and the sun will be shining!

I had not planned to go to town at all today – just too windy.  But I was already two weeks late getting Blake his birthday present mailed to China, and I finally got everything in the mail yesterday that I wanted to send him.

I spent half the morning getting all the forms filled out that must accompany a box halfway around the world.  The post office was busy, and everyone was talking about the weather.  The few people I spoke with who had taken the boat over this morning said it was a very bumpy ride.  I stopped by for cookies at Marc’s Double Oven, saw Jill at the bookstore and bought a book she suggested (The Master Butchers Singing Club), and started for home.

I followed several ladies up Grand Hill, whose clothes and actions made a perfect picture of what the weather was like.

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As I crossed the street before getting to the Grand, I noticed our neighbor Duck taking pictures of something on the side of the road.  It was only then that I saw that one of the old, old trees along Grand Hill was missing.  I stopped to ask Duck what had happened, and he told me the wind in the storm last night had split the tree down the middle.  This morning it had been determined that the whole tree was compromised, so it had to be cut down.

What was amazing was what they found inside the tree!  At some point in the tree’s life, it had obviously been split before.  When the chain saw got to a certain point this morning, it struck something solid that the saw couldn’t penetrate.   What they have determined is that cement had been poured into the split when it occurred, and the tree had continued to grow around it.  And there it was – a solid, hard as stone, concrete post.  The tree, like all those on Grand Hill was around 65 feet tall, and Duck estimated around 125 years old.  It made me wonder how many others on either side of that hill have been patched up over the decades.  They are all so healthy looking and so beautiful.  This one is a great loss.

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Continuing on up the hill, I met a dray coming down.  Don’t know if this recliner was being delivered to someone’s home, or was being taken off the island.  Either way, it was being enjoyed!

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I took my turn out in the cold with Maddie and Bear before dinner.  How trees can change so much over two days is amazing, but this one in the yard of the Carriage Museum had turned two shades more golden since Sunday.  Bear, standing in the leaves, looks so pretty – smelly, but pretty.  Can’t wait for him to get his bath tomorrow!

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The number of horses in the corral below our condo has roughly been cut in half.  Most of them now have shaved manes, which mean they soon will be heading for Pickford and a winter of rest and play in wide open fields.

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It seems everyone I talked to downtown today asked if we were staying over the winter.  We’ve had offers of snowmobiles, snowshoes, and cross county skis.  We’ve had offers to pick us up at the airport in Pellston, or at the airport here on the island.  I have to shake my head “no” to every question and every offer of help.  Maybe Ted is right, and I would find it too cold and too desolate and too brutal.  Maybe struggling with the dogs in wet snow would be a great big pain.  Maybe being isolated on an island until the ice bridge freezes over would be too confining.  But, maybe it wouldn’t.

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Throw Back Thursday – Thoughts on a Ferry 3/16/17

Personal Note:  It’s funny, as I’ve been going back and pulling old blog posts, how each one places me directly back in time, remembering the day I wrote the words and how I was feeling that day.  I remember snapping each of the photos in this one and planning what I would say in the captions – before I ever left the ferry that day.  Such special memories.

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First Published 8/26/12

Riding ferries back and forth to Mackinac Island has become such an engrained part of our lives that we consider it just as normal as main-landers opening their car doors each day and setting off to whatever event/store they have in mind.

Because 99% of my ferry rides take me to Mackinaw City to pick up the truck, I boarded the Mac City ferry Friday morning –  chatting to Jill a hundred miles an hour (and vice versa) – waved “bye” to her through the window, and took my seat about three rows up from the back (if you want to blend in with islanders and not appear to be a “fudgie”, ride in the back of the ferry).  I opened my book (Unsaid by Neil Abramson) and settled back to spend 15 minutes of bliss – reading with no interruptions.

About half-way across, I glanced up and noticed something strange.  The Mackinac Bridge wasn’t where it should be at that point in the ride.  Instead of being on my left, it was on my right.  And that’s when I realized I was on the wrong ferry.  I’d been heading to St. Ignace for a hair appointment, but in my usual “zone”, I’d marched onto the Mac City ferry, and the bad thing was Jill had LET me do it – knowing full well I was going to St. Iggy!  I immediately called her and said, “You have GOT to start taking better care of me!”

Pat, who works for Shepler, sat down with me just as I was disconnecting with Jill, and I told him “what an idiot” I am.  He got a good laugh out of it and said, “Just get off in Mac City, get back on the next ferry to the Island, then get on the right ferry to St. Ignace.”  Just like a man.  Didn’t he know that hair appointments were at a premium and I’d waited two weeks just to get on Pam’s appointment book!?

“No, no – that won’t work!”  I said.  I asked Pat to call and get the truck brought to the dock for me, which he did.

I was a little nervous because I’d never driven across the Mackinac Bridge before – but all went well, and I arrived for my hair appointment only 15 minutes late – with a good story to tell the salon ladies.

Two hours later – less gray and with 1/2″ of splint ends trimmed off – I crossed the bridge again, just in time to catch Shepler’s 3 p.m. ferry back to the Island.  Once again I chose the rear of the boat and opened my book.

Since earlier choosing the wrong ferry, my whole day had seemed a little off-kilter, and as the boat pulled away from the dock . . .

. . . I closed the book and decided to people-watch instead..

As I looked around, I began to remember the excitement I felt boarding the ferry in our earlier years.

I didn’t care one whit then if I looked like a tourist – camera hanging from my neck, sitting at the front of the boat, oohing and ahhing over freighters and lighthouses and the bridge.

I remembered the joy of the trip – riding with the front hatch open – the wind and crispness of the pure Michigan air promising us an awesome time on Mackinac . . .

. . . and I remembered shaking my head in dismay when the door was closed because someone complained about a little “spray” coming in.

I remembered making up stories about the other folks on the ferry. Maybe this couple was on their honeymoon – or maybe it was their first vacation since the children came along, and now the kids were old enough to spend a few days at Grandma’s and Granddaddy’s house.  Or . . . . maybe he was taking her to the Island to propose!

I remembered especially loving to watch the older folks. Could this couple be celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary at the Grand? Had they stayed on the Island on their honeymoon? Or . . . were they arriving for a grandchild’s wedding on the Island?

And I remember thinking back then, as we’d curve around the Passage Light – so closely it seemed we could touch it –  “Don’t let our days here go by too fast!”

While the ferry docked, I gathered my book, my bag of hair products, and my backpack.  As I eased out into the aisle and joined the happy fudgies setting foot on the Island for the first time, I looked around and tried to see the fort on the hill, the horses, and the busy downtown area as I did when we arrived that first time in July, 2000.  I remembered exactly how I’d felt.

And as I entered Main Street and turned toward home, I thought, “Don’t ever let me forget the magic of this place.”

I smiled all the way up the hill.