Personal Note: It was pretty funny, when deciding which blog to post today, that this one popped up with the photo of me and Maddie on the couch at our former condo. It was before we redecorated the living area with more of a “cottage” décor, Maddie is only a couple of years old, and it was just before I started growing my hair long for one last time.
Maddie’s face is grey now, and since moving to Florida I’ve once again cut my hair short and have bangs. That plaid couch I was sitting on (which came with the condo) resides in Chief Duck’s living room (unless he has passed it on to someone else). I remember writing this post and wondering if I’d get censured for talking about horse poop on-line! How times have changed!
Header: A great aerial shot from Bryce Tracy a couple of days ago. Most of the snow has melted, and there’s a lot of green already showing. Spring is right around the corner on Mackinac!
First Published August 30, 2009
It was raining Friday night at 11:15 when I took Bear out one last time before going to bed. It’s still raining this morning, and according to the forecast, the weather is going to get cooler and more rainy today – before it clears and warms up on Sunday.
Today is a perfect day to stay inside and read, curled up on the couch surrounded by Bear, Maddie and my favorite red Mackinac Island throw (I have to fight Maddie for that). It’s also a perfect day to write about horse poop, because there’s nothing like a rainy day to emphasize Mackinac Island produces more horse poop per square inch han most any other place on this earth (I did no scientific research on that, folks. Just take my word for it).
I know I mention horse poop on our roads at least once a week on this blog, and it’s certainly not a subject to enjoy while you are sipping that first cup of your morning coffee. So, all my readers who have let me know coffee and Bree’s blog go together, be forewarned. You might want to settle down with your mug and the Today Show, and catch this blog a little later. There won’t be many pictures on this blog because – well, I shouldn’t even have to explain that.
Mackinac Island’s unique charm was forever sealed when the city fathers banned motorized vehicles. We don’t have cars or trucks or SUVs or minivans. There are no buses, motorcycles, motorhomes, or trains. Instead, we have horses. Now horses bring a distinct sense of romance to the island – I mean, picture a wedding carriage with a bride and groom, a tour carriage pulled by two beautiful Belgian draft horses, the Grand’s omnibus and their magnificent Percherons, and the gorgeous Friesians with their flowing manes and tails straight out of a romance novel. You can drive your own buggy around the island, one hand on the lines and one arm around your favorite significant other. Or you can go horseback riding with your sweetheart through the woods up to Lookout Point and picnic there while the horses graze nearby. It’s romantic!
Along with producing visions of romantic escapades, horses also produce poop – in large quantities (these are large horses, dear readers, and there are lots of them). And until the day someone trains a horse to “go potty” only in the barn, horses are going to “go potty” wherever they feel like it – and that usually means the roads where we walk every day.
I remember the first time I came to the island and breathed in its distinct smell. For the first time, I saw on the streets the evidence that horses pass by hundreds of times a day. I admit that it was all pretty “Ewwwwww”! – for about 10 minutes. Then I was so swept up in the uniqueness and appeal of the magic of the place that I totally forgot about it. You no longer smell it, you no longer think about it. It’s just there, and your senses rapidly adjust.
Now Mackinac Island has a street cleaner – pulled by horses. It does an amazingly good job of keeping the streets as clean as possible, especially when you consider that the horses pulling the street cleaner usually contribute to what they are trying to clean up. Regardless, that street cleaner is out there all day trying to keep up with the horse poop. The big tank puts down water, and then rotating brushes under the cleaner scrub the road. A rainy day helps too. Nothing like a heavy rain to wash the streets clean.
BUT – whether it’s the street cleaner or the rain, what is always left is a thin, damp layer of questionable origin on top of the pavement. So you never, never go out on wet Mackinac streets in flip-flops or open-toed sandals unless you are determined to ruin a perfectly good pedicure.
I had a pair of shoes that I saved specifically for rainy days up here. They were brown (no explanation needed there either), rubber-soled, heavy canvas shoes. I could throw them in the washer (after I had hosed them down) with the old towels I use to dry Maddie and Bear when they come in wet, and they would come out clean. The only problem was my feet got wet in those shoes. Not really from the streets, but from walking through all the wet grass. By the time I got back in the house, the shoes were soaked and so were my feet. Icky!
I was lamenting this problem one day this spring to our daughter Julie in Arkansas. Julie designs flip-flops and boots for a group of women tournament fisherladies. They are all sooo cute, in a lot of zany designs and colors. Julie said, “I will bring you a pair of the boots when we come this summer – just pick out which ones you like!” So I went on-line and picked the ones called “black circles” (made more sense up here than the “pink circles” or “floral”). When she arrived this summer with the boots, I couldn’t wait for it to rain. Now I can traipse around outside in the wet grass and on the wet streets with nary a worry about getting my feet dirty, messing up my pedicure, or coming home with sopping wet feet! I love those boots!
The strangest thing happens to me when I go back home to Georgia for the winter. I will be sitting in our sunroom looking out over the lake, or perhaps reading, with our little wood stove happily putting out heat on a January day (yes, it does get cold in Georgia occasionally). For no reason at all, I will suddenly think of the island – maybe I’ll picture all the snow that covers it in January and what fun it would be up here riding snowmobiles across the ice bridge. Or, maybe I will picture Ted and I all snugged up in front of the fireplace. With any of those thoughts will instantly come the smell of the horses. Does the brain store away smells and send them out when we think about places that are connected with those smells? Don’t know – don’t care. The sensation will only last for a few seconds, but during those seconds, I can put my head back, close my eyes, and be right back on the island.
Romance and horse poop – nothing like it!