Personal Note: Leaving the island each summer is always a mix of sadness, because I’m leaving my heart’s home, and rejoicing because I’m returning to home, family, and much-loved friends. This post reveals some of those feelings..
FIRST POSTED 10/17/10
“All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.” Amelia Barr
I knew it was coming, but not so fast. After the Poor Man’s Ball at the school on Wednesday night, I walked into the condo and glanced into the back bedroom. The comforter was completely covered in clothes, shoes, open luggage, and other “necessities” that will accompany us home. Facing a day of serious packing on Thursday (as opposed to frivolous packing on Tuesday), and a 12-hour cleaning marathon on Friday, I sighed and sank into my comfy blue recliner in the den. The chair sits between the sliding glass doors looking out over the yard and the bay window looking out over Cadotte (although that view is beautifully blocked just now by a tree about a week away from losing its leaves). I put my head back, closed my eyes, kept one foot on the floor, tucked the other one under myself – and rocked. I don’t do yoga, but this is my own personal lotus position.
As the chair moved slowly back and forth, the sound of a taxi coming up the hill, and the accompanying clip-clop, reached my ears. That sound is probably at the top of my “most missed” list of Mackinac Island icons when I’m in Georgia. I’ve loved that sound ever since I awoke to it eleven years ago on our first morning on the island – in the Chippewa Hotel. I remember saying, “What’s that?” and getting up to peek out the window toward the Mission District (of course then, I had no idea what the Mission District was). I remember watching the early morning dray coming down the street in front of the marina and Anne’s Cottage – it was barely daylight – and thinking, “Where could they be going so early?” Now I know that the freight boat arrives on the island ahead of any passenger ferry, and the dray was on its way to pick up food the island restaurants would be serving that day – along with construction supplies, items for the retail stores, newspapers, and a bounty of other items to meet the daily needs of this precious rock. But back then, I didn’t know all that. I just knew that in those few moments, just before sleep was edged out by wakefulness, the sound of the horses’ hooves on the street had played a little tune in my subconscious – and that tune has been playing ever since.
It’s been an unbelievably beautiful summer on Mackinac Island. The weather has been perfect – practically since we arrived in May. The cold, wet days of last summer are long forgotten, replaced by this summer’s warmth and sunshine. I remember last October being about as miserable a month as I’ve ever spent anywhere. It was cold, it was wet, and we had gale-force winds for what seemed the entire month. This October has been one day after another of Indian summer – cool, sunny days and cold, crisp nights – perfect for dazzling fall colors, perfect for pumpkins, perfect for visitors to the island, and perfect for me. It was much easier to leave last year.
Everything has begun to slow down. I won’t be able to show you the closing of the Grand like I did last year, because we’re leaving too early. But I did get some photos today of the Somewhere in Time weekend at the Grand. Then Jill and I walked through downtown for one more “Random Photo Opportunity” . . .
Most of you will be reading this post sometime during the day on Sunday. If all has gone as planned, we will have left on the 9 a.m. ferry, and our merry little crew will be on I-75-going south. But right now, it’s Saturday night – our last evening on the island until the next 214 days have passed. But who’s counting.
Every summer we spend here, the island reveals a new aspect of itself. Like an onion, Mackinac has many, many layers – and to truly know this place, each of those layers has to be peeled back and studied. Last summer we spent our days exploring all the hidden landmarks, always seeking something else we hadn’t seen – marking those icons off our tattered map as each treasure was located. We met so many people last summer, and I became known locally as “Bree the Blogger” – camera at the ready in any circumstance. This summer, we’ve gotten to know people in a deeper, more personal way. I’m no longer Bree the Blogger to most folks. I’m just Brenda, and I like that much better.
Leaving will be hard, but as Ted as told me several times this week, “Most of your island friends will be leaving at the same time, or just after we do. It wouldn’t be the same if you stayed with most of them gone.” There’s just one thing wrong with that rationalization. It wasn’t the people here that I first fell in love with – it was the place. Mackinac Island continues to call me back – the woods, the trails, the flowers, the horses, the bluffs, and the water that surrounds all of these things. The friends I’ve come to know and love are a wonderful God-sent bonus.
When we leave here Sunday morning, tiny pieces of my heart will remain on this small speck of an island rising up out of the blue waters of Lake Huron, and when we return in the spring, it will be whole once again. That said, big chunks of my heart are beating excitedly as I anticipate pulling into our driveway at the ri’vah on Tuesday. I can’t wait to see our lake house and yard – but most of all, I can’t wait to see our friends and family. You have been so, so missed.
Sleep well through the winter snows, Mackinac. I’ll see you when the tulips bloom – good Lord willing.