Throw Back Tuesday – The Island Without Jill 4/25/17

Personal Note:  I’m posting this as my “throw back” today because I know Jill will be returning to the island in the next week or so, and Mackinac just wouldn’t be Mackinac without Jill being there.  I’ve loved her since our very first summer on Mackinac, and I count her as among my very best friends.  She is everything I wrote in this blog back in 2009 – and much, much more.  Her heart is huge, her spirit is sweet, and her friendship is forever.  Love you, Jillski, and don’t fuss at me about posting this!______________________________________________________________________

FIRST PUBLISHED 10/29/09

I keep telling myself that one day this week I will sit down to write the “final post” for the season.  I’m not ready to do that yet, even though today was the closest I’ve come to saying, “Ok – I’m ready to go.”  And that is because today my good friend Jill left the island. 

jillinbookstore

JIB in The Island Bookstore.

As I have said before, Jill is the communicator for Mackinac Island.  If Jill doesn’t know about something that’s going on, then it must not be going on.   She always seems to be everywhere at once, and when we were first getting to know each other, I gave her the nickname JIB (for Jill in the Box) – because she just popped up everywhere.  At first I thought she knew everything because she worked at the The Island Bookstore.  I figured there must be some secret information system that fed every little tidbit of news from every corner of the island into that tiny little store inside the Lilac Tree Hotel mall.  But then I realized, no – it’s just that Jill knows everyone on Mackinac, and everyone knows her. 

How in the world I would have ever kept this blog going without her constant stream of places to go and people to meet is beyond me.  It probably would have been dead in the water by June.  Jill was a Godsend. 

But the best part of meeting Jill was not how much she knew.  The best part was becoming her friend.  Being Jill’s friend is like taking little rays of sunshine and spreading them across your day – regardless of the weather, regardless of your mood, regardless of how you feel – Jill’s voice and her smiling face can lift you right up.  Her spirit is sweet and generous and kind, and she shares herself with everyone. 
This summer I have seen her come to the aid of an endless number of people in countless ways – housesitter, meeting someone at the ferry, seeing someone off at the ferry, helping people unpack – then helping them pack, dogsitter, delivering messages, delivering packages, catsitter, buying groceries for others, and picking up mail for a friend.  And she is usually taking care of all that before she goes to a a full-time job at the bookstore.  She does it all, and she never complains.  She never says she’s too busy or too tired to help someone, even though I know that sometimes she is both. 

On her breaks from the bookstore, she will walk down the sidewalk and have 20 people speak to her by name before she hits the first corner.  She is hailed from the street, from taxis, from bikes, and from stores.  She has this amazing ability to make you feel special.  That’s what she did for me, and that’s what she does for everyone lucky enough to know her. 

Jill left today on the 12:30 ferry.  Her plan is to spend a few months with her family in downstate Michigan, then spend some time with friends in Arizona, before returning to the island in the spring. Ted and I were there at the dock to see her off.  She wrote me a lovely note and gave it to me as she was boarding, making me promise not to open it until she was well out of sight.  I kept my promise. 

Watching the ferry pull away, I thought, “Now there is only one more important goodbye I have to say before we leave – and that will be to the island itself.”  

Then it will be time to go home.

Have a great winter, JIB!  Love you, my friend.

jillandcupcake

jillanddog

jillted

jillmevi

jillbye

Throw Back Tuesday – The October Season 4/18/17

Personal Note:  This 2013 blog made me smile because October is one of my favorite months on Mackinac, and the fall of 2013 was one of the most beautiful I remember.  We feel so blessedto be able to continue returning to Mackinac for three months, and one of those months is part of October.  When I see all the photos of Bear and Maddie playing in the leaves, I smile in anticipation of this fall when Bodie will get to have that same experience!___________________________________________________________________

First Published 10/20/13

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

Me too, L.M.  Me too!

When I was young and thought my days stretched before me for decades and decades, I seldom equated Nature’s seasons with the seasons of my own life.  As I’ve grown older though, I find myself doing just that, and doing it quite often.  My spring and summer seasons have passed – childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, becoming a mother, and raising children until they are out on their own – all of that is behind me now.  The Fall of my life – my October season – is upon me, and living out my Octobers on Mackinac Island these last few years is proving to be one of the most beautiful times of my life.

ff

On Mackinac Island, October is truly so magnificently beautiful it defies description.  Even with the chores of moving and packing up, Ted and I are finding time almost every day to get out and walk in the woods.  To not take these moments to inhale the crisp clean air and walk through these ageless forests would almost be sacrilege.

Gone two weeks ago were the days of finding a rust-colored leaf here and a gold leaf there. Now they are all so brightly hued

The days of finding a rust-colored leaf here and a gold leaf there were gone two weeks ago. Now they are all so brightly hued it’s as though bits of sunlight have become gold coins that cling to every tree limb and twig. And then – at the perfect moment – they fall to carpet our path.

jjjj

Billions of those bits of sunlight – far above us – await a breeze strong enough to send them gently floating to the ground . . .

ggg

. . . where the sun is absorbed from the leaves into the earth – to prepare it for next spring’s awakening.

The pavilion at Turtle Park will soon stand

The pavilion at Turtle Park stands lonely now, but during the winter island residents will gather here for Winter Festival, and children will use the hills to compete on their sleds.

Bear and Maddie love October too, but for them it's all about the smells! Gone are the light aromas of sunshine - replaced by the rich, loamy smell of dying leaves and damp ground.

Bear and Maddie love Fall too, but for them it’s all about the smells! Gone are the light aromas of sunshine – replaced by the rich, loamy smell of dying leaves and damp ground.

We came out on the other side of Turtle Park at the cemeteries, where only the snows of winter make this place more beautiful than it is in the Fall.

We came out on the other side of Turtle Park at the cemeteries . . .

where only the snows of winter make this place more beautiful than it is in the Fall.

. . . where only the snows of winter make this place more beautiful than it is in the Fall.

IMG_9231

IMG_9238

Sometime I wish I knew every name of every soldier and civilian who rests here in the Post Cemetery.

Sometime I wish I knew every name of every soldier and civilian who rests here in the Post Cemetery . . .

If I did, it would bring me such joy to write each family and enclose a photograph of the beautiful place where their ancestor rests.

. . . so I could do the research and send each family a photograph of the beautiful resting place of their ancestor.

October is Bear's favorite season too . . .

Bear loves that the weather is cool,  the leaves are fun to roll in, and there’s always some edible morsel to be sniffed out.  Much more fun than just finding it on the ground out in the open!

And for Miss Maddie - as always - it's all about the hunt!

And for Miss Maddie – as always – it’s all about the hunt!

An old hose reel sits among the trees.

An old hose reel – nestled between two trees.

This totem pole sits on one side of the Spirit Garden burial mound . . .

This totem pole sits on one side of the Spirit Garden burial mound in St. Anne;s cemetery . . .

. . . and on the other side is a

. . . and on the other side is a wooden carved turtle.  The totem pole was donated by the Indian Drum tobacco shop and has been lovingly refurbished over the summer by Donald “Duck” Andress.  He removed rotted wood and repainted sections of the pole depicting animals like a woodpecker, beaver and bald eagle.  The wooden turtle monument was created by Cecil Pavlat and carved by Chief Duck.  The Spirit Garden burial mound includes the remains of Native peoples from both Mackinac Island and Bois Blanc Island.  The remains from Mackinac Island were unearthed during an excavation on Main Street in 2011.

Like I said - October is Bear's favorite month to be in the woods.

Like I said – October is Bear’s favorite month to be in the woods.

Through a gate at St. Anne's Cemetery.

Through a gate at St. Anne’s Cemetery.

A carpet of crunchy leaves led us back to Turtle Park . . . .

A carpet of crunchy leaves led us back to Turtle Park . . . .

. . . which is surrounded by trees brushed by every October color on God's palette.

. . . which is surrounded by trees brushed by every October color on God’s palette.

The park turned into a playground when we ran into Annie and Diesel and their owners.

The park turned into a playground when we ran into Annie and Diesel and their owners.

We finally called a halt to the playtime and walked home, leaving behind another October memory from Mackinac.

We finally called a halt to the playtime and went our separate ways –  leaving behind another October memory from Mackinac.

The summer clothes have been shipped home, and Ted and I don’t go out these days without our layers.  We have snow in the forecast Tuesday-Friday of this week, but it seems like we heard that quite a few times last year before we actually awoke to a snow-covered Mackinac . . .on the day we left for Georgia.

We're prepared though. Let it snow!

We’re prepared though. Let it snow!

God bless.

Throw Back Tuesday – Back Track and Forward March 4/11/17

Personal Note:  Loved reposting this blog today because of the many Mackinac friends – and blog readers – who happen to be in it!  Also, it was written at the end of the Lilac Festival that year and involves a parade!  Sweet memories.

______________________________________________________________________

FIRST PUBLISHED JUNE, 18,2013

You will not BELIEVE all the photographs I have backlogged over the last few days!  I’ve been focusing mainly on Lilacs for a good two weeks now, and the Lilacs are still going strong, even though their “festival” ended yesterday. Tonight I want to catch up on a few other topics, throw in a few more flowers, and highlight some of the parade from yesterday. So, here we go . . .

THE PEOPLE WE MEET!

New lady on the corner! Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler's Ferry, look directly across the street on the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see - during daylight hours anyway - the brilliant smile of Mert. As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things "Mackinac" and does it so easily and with such friendliness that you just want to stay and chat a while longer. She'd love for you to stop by - to ask questions, to talk about Mackinac, or just to say hi! Oh, and tell her "Bree" sent you!

New lady on the corner! Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler’s Ferry, look directly across the street to the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see – during daylight hours anyway – the brilliant smile of Mert. As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things “Mackinac” and does it so easily and with such friendliness you just want to stay and chat a while longer! She’d love for you to stop by – to ask questions, to talk about the Island, or just to say hi!  You will love her!

This beautiful family, Theresa, Allen, Amelia and Michael - from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie's for ice cream. Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree's Blog and follows us in Georgia during the winter also.

This beautiful family – Allen, Theresa, Amelia and Michael – from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie’s for ice cream.  While we were there, Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try – Caramel Turtle Cheesecake!  A T-E-N!

Loved hanging out with this great family, and while we were in Sadie's Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try - Caramel Turtle Cheesecake! A T-E-N!

Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree’s Blog and follows the Lake Blackshear Blog in Georgia during the winter also.  Loved hanging out with this great family!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff's garden. They didn't know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this. They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa's iPad in the car going home. LOVE IT!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff’s garden. They didn’t know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this. They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa’s iPad in the car going home. LOVE IT!

Richard! This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago. Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun. Always good to see Richard!

Richard! This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago. Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun. Always good to see Richard, and he always asks about Bear and Ted . . . in that order.

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called "Bree?" I turned and met Ted (I'll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca. They were married on Mackinac just last year and were up for a visit. This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident, they reminded me of ME!

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called “Bree?” I turned and met Ted (I’ll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca. They were married on Mackinac just last year, found Bree’s Blog when they returned home from their honeymoon, and were up for a visit. This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident.  They reminded me of ME!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up - finally, after several attempts - at the Island Bookstore one evening last week! Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up – finally, after several attempts – at the Island Bookstore one evening last week! Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Tommy and Gerald - our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night. They are part of an A Cappela Choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI. We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly). Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.

Tommy and Gerald – our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night. They are part of an a cappella choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI. We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly) after returning from singing for their supper at the Seabiscuit restaurant. Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.  During that Monopoly game, they also put away two large bottles of juice, a huge bowl of popcorn, a whole bag of tortillas, a jar or salsa and a jar of cheese dip – with a little fudge as dessert .  LOL – they SO reminded me of Jason and Blake at that age!  We enjoyed having Tommy and Gerald with us – they were smart, well-mannered, and fun – a tribute to their families.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer. Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent! It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind). They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and "do Mackinac" with no real set agenda (the best way). Have fun, you two!

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer. Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent! It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind). They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and “do Mackinac” with no real set agenda (the best way). Have fun, you two!

FOUR-LEGGED CRITTERS

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near The Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, obviously tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away. The Gate House provides water dishes for pets! A cutie-pie!

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near the Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away. The Gate House provides water dishes for pets! A cutie-pie!

This precious baby was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

This precious pooch was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I'm right on that name).

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I’m right on that name).

New neighborhood pooch, Charlie!

New neighborhood puppy, Charlie . . .

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

It's not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdale in your front yard, but it happened this week! These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade! That's Kyle on Duke's back.

It’s not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdales in your front yard, but it happened this weekend! These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade! That’s Kyle on Duke’s back.

A FEW MORE FLOWERS

Only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers - near where the old Grand stable once stood.

I only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers – near where the old Grand stable once stood.

Lilacs!

Dark Lilacs . . .

. . . and light Lilacs!

. . . and light Lilacs!

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

, , , and one loner.

. . . and one loner.

A very, very small section of Jeff's garden on French Lane.

A very, very small section of Jeff’s garden on French Lane.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B, with its luscious gardens in full bloom.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B – surrounded by Lilacs.

A curve on Cadotte . . .

A curve on Cadotte . . .

. . . . and Mahoney Avenue.

. . . . and Mahoney Street.

THE PARADE!  THE PARADE!

The mighty Clydesdales!

The mighty Clydesdales!

FFFF

Do not try this at home – at least not if you are MY age!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade - right in the shade - and sweet smell - of beautiful Lilacs!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade – right in the shade – and sweet smell – of beautiful Lilacs!

We had serious bands . . .

We had serious bands . . .

. . . and not so serious bands.

. . . and not so serious bands.

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

. . . and

. . . horses performing beautifully . . .

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

vvvv

We had musical marching groups . . .

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

We had clowns in groups . . .

We had clowns who came in groups . . .

. . . and some alone.

. . . and some who came alone.

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

. . . and dogs whose names we'll never know - but who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

. . . and dogs whose names we’ll never know – who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

We had beauty queens who rode in carriages . . .

We had small beauty queens, teenage beauty queens .  .

. . . and some who walked.

. . . and grown-up beauty queens.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald "Duck" Andress. Duck rode in a carriage this year instead of on horseback, but his son

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald “Duck” Andress. Duck rode in a carriage this year, but his son Jamie – seen behind him in the white headdress – continues the tradition of their family by riding on horseback.

Are you asleep yet?

I think that catches us up to today in photos.  As you can see, it’s been a busy time on the Island, and today the Island was taking a great big breath and relaxing after a tremendously successful Lilac Festival.

God bless.

Bring Your Own Sunshine! 4/9/17

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.  Anthony J. D’Angelo.

After complaining about how hot it already was in Florida last week, I shall now eat those words and say we’re in the middle of what the weather folks are predicting will be a good week-and-a-half of glorious spring-like days!  Just when I thought the 90’s had arrived to stay, it stormed for two days and then the wind blew like crazy for two more days.  On the other side of that . . . out popped SPRING.  For the next week we are looking at highs in the 70’s and lows at night in the 60’s . . . . PERFECT!

We’ve had a pretty busy week here . . .

Ted left Sunday morning for Augusta GA and the Masters.

Jason was already there . . .

. . . and he spent Monday morning (before the bad weather moved in) showing Ted and a great group of friends from Mackinac some of the sights.  The Masters practice rounds were cancelled for parts of Tuesday and Wednesday due to weather.

This was Jason’s 20th Masters. He attends each year to host clients.

Ted was going to stay for the Monday and Tuesday practice rounds, but decided to come home Tuesday morning to avoid driving in the anticipated horrible weather in north GA on Wednesday. The bad weather started for us here in Florida on Tuesday, but he didn’t hit it until the last hour of his trip home.

We accumulated over five inches of rain that day . . .

. . . . and this pic Ted took a few days later of one of the retention ponds in Sunset Inlet shows how much water accumulated.

The big retention pond at the front of our neighborhood was so full the dogs could have gone swimming in it.  You can see the “mud marks” around the sides.

We went to Java Joint Wednesday morning for breakfast and met this gentlemen as he was about to leave. We had noticed his bike outside and remarked about all the gear it held. Didn’t get his name, but he told us he had flown with his bike into Savannah from his home in Maine. He was biking from Savannah to Key West – said he was tired of winter and thought the bike ride would be a good way to get a start on summer.

Off he goes.  It seemed like quite the adventure to me!

In keeping with the great weather, Julie and her family went deep sea fishing today and just sent us these two pics. Here she’s just caught a good-sized amberjack . . .

. . . and Matt hooked this 8-foot shark!  He reeled him in twice, but he was fighting so hard Matt ended up cutting the line.  Julie said he was one mad shark!  She also said it was a beautiful porpoise day.  They had about 30 trolling along with the boat, jumping and swimming in their wake.  They went about 50 miles offshore.

Bodie and I chose a calmer way to spend this gorgeous Sunday afternoon  We went over to the St. Joe Walkway and strolled along the Intracoastal for a couple of miles.

It was shady most of the way, and I have to tell you that Bodie and I are most definitely on the same wavelength as far as our love for cool weather. He RACES past every sunny spot to get to the shady ones!

THE WEEK ON MACKINAC

April is a transition month on Mackinac.  The snowmobiles are being put in storage, and everyone is getting ready to begin another season.  Shop owners who don’t live on the island year-round will begin arriving to stock inventory and get ready to open for business.  Construction projects are winding down.  I can’t wait to see what this new season will bring!

On Friday Clark Bloswick snapped this photo of the beautiful blue waters of Lake Huron. The ice all seems to have melted, and it’s great to see the Straits ready for another season of visitors to Mackinac.

Love this pic from Max Jones of horses waiting on the ferry.

And speaking of horses arriving . . . . the annual parade back to the island has begun!  Thanks to Kaitlynn Bazinau for sharing this video!

One more video – NOT for the faint of heart!  Ed Gough’s visit to the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week to come and a joyful Easter Sunday on the 16th.  God bless.

 

 

 

It’s Spring (so why does it feel like summer)? 4/2/17

Hi Friends!

The first day of Spring was March 20, but it might as well have been the first day of Summer here in Florida!  The temps are already hovering close to the 90’s by early afternoon, and the only saving grace (for me, the hot weather dis-liker) is that the mornings and evenings are still relatively cool – and the sea breezes are heavenly.  Nevertheless, by the time we return from Alaska at the end of May, I know I’ll be ready to pack for Mackinac as soon as I’ve run a few loads of laundry!

SPEAKING OF MACKINAC . . .

Josh Carley reports that visitors are already arriving. According to Josh, “It seems as though the season starts earlier and earlier and ends later and later each year”. 

Something else to note in the photo above . . . the beloved tree at the corner of Marquette Park is still standing and hopefully will remain so a long time into the future.  The State Park is in charge of the tree because it stands on State Park property, and they will strive to keep it healthy as long as possible.  Yeah!!

These next four photos are from Steve Fridley and will probably be the last ones showing snow on the island this winter. Steve was there about three weeks ago when there was still ice in the Straits.

I love this perspective of the ferry plowing through ice on Lake Huron.

Sugar Loaf, with a dusting of snow at the base and ice showing along the shoreline.

The village of Mackinac Island, framed by the trees at the top of Fort Hill.

Early morning on the ferry docks. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

This aerial photo by Bryce Tracy shows minimal snow and the beginnings of an island turning green.  Great photo of the Grand and a few West Bluff cottages.  In the foreground on the right is the island school and in the upper left part of the photo is the beginning of “the Village”. I can see our former condo at Surrey Ridge and also the condo where we’ll be staying this summer near the horse barns.

Here’s some great island news! My sweet friend Nicole Doud is opening her third shop on Main Street in May!

The new shop is located on the site of the former Leather Corral, which is being totally renovated. Nicole says, “Canvas & Paddle will be a slow-paced shopping experience bringing back memories of life at ‘the cabin’ – a place where you can make new Up North memories.”  I can’t wait to see this new addition to Main Street . . . and start shopping. Congratulations, Nicole!

Early morning colors highlight Round Island Lighthouse on Saturday morning. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

 

And the colors at sunrise this morning from Arch Rock are subdued, but no less stunning. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A beautiful photo by Kate Koster of horses awaiting a ferry.

OTHER NEWS

On March 29 my beautiful, boisterous, and bodacious Bodie turned ONE!  I don’t know if my late 60’s was when I needed to add a huge dose of ZANINESS to my life, but suffice it to say it has been added in big capital letters spelled BODIE!  He keeps me moving, keeps me trying to think one step ahead of him, and has added a whole other level of patience to my life.  In other words, I love him. 

I loved this look. It’s like, “You gave me a pink pig for my birthday, mom? Pink?  Really?”  I explained to him it was a special pig.  Indestructible.  Triple stitched.  Made to withstand the bite of a pit bull on steroids.  And it only came in pink.  He had it unstuffed in under five minutes.

“It’s so tiring proving dog toy manufacturers wrong.”

Little Maddie – approaching 13, a little greyer, a little deaf, and still ruling the Horton house.  She is the QUEEN!

We love when we have friends visit from Mackinac. Last night Mr. B (Benser) and Tommy Marx (he took this pic) stayed with us on their way to the Masters (they both winter in south Florida). Those two and Ted left this morning heading for Augusta where they were meeting up with another group of Mackinac men. I’m thinking they will have a LARGE time!

 

Sneaking up on some shore birds sunning on the dock posts out on the Intracoastal.

PRAYER REQUEST

Please keep Lowell Greene and his wife Faye in your prayers.  Lowell had a really scary few days this week.  He collapsed at home and was rushed by ambulance to the small hospital in their town where he was diagnosed with dehydration.  He was given 3 liters of fluids and sent home.  Thirty minutes later he went into congestive heart failure and was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in Lansing.  It took from Tuesday to Friday to remove all the fluid from his lungs and around his heart.  He is at home now and feeling better, but he still needs our prayers for no more “repeats” of this frightening event.

Lowell and Faye last summer on Mackinac. We were on the way to the Grand shade garden and stopped to rest at the corner of Market St. and Cadotte.

Love you, Lowell!

God bless.

A Shady Corner on Mackinac 3/26/17

Hi Friends!

The island has been relatively quiet this week except for one bit of news which really lit up the “Mackinac Island Dockporters Association” Facebook page a couple of days ago.  Long-time friend Josh Carley posted this photo of State Park maintenance workers trimming limbs off the beautiful old elm tree that has stood for decades at the corner of Marquette Park across from Doud’s Market.

I still don’t have any definite news on whether the tree was being taken down completely, or whether it was just a trim of dead limbs, but since that photo appeared there have been dozens and dozens of comments lamenting the loss of the tree (if, indeed, it is being removed completely) or the potential loss at some time in the future.

Because it’s a slow news week, I’m just going to put my two cents worth in.

I love that tree.  It’s been there ever since I first set foot on the island in 2000 and for many decades before.  That little oasis of shade, stone wall, and benches is the perfect place to people watch, chat with friends (and strangers), eat a quick lunch from the Doud’s deli, or rest for a moment after traipsing around the downtown area all morning. It’s a much sought-after spot to watch parades or wait on a private carriage tour to begin.  I’ve sat on that stone wall with many island friends over the years – Jill, Frankie, Joe Plaza, Snapper, Chief Duck, Richard Pasco, Candy Smith . . . the list goes on and is made more poignant in knowing that Joe and Snapper are no longer with us.  I’ve eaten ice cream there, sat with Bear and Maddie at my feet waiting on Ted to come out of Doud’s, and met more than one blog reader – either on purpose (“let’s meet under the tree on the corner of Marquette Park”) or as a total surprise when I’d be walking by and someone would yell, “Bree!”

I. Love. That. Tree..

But.

Just as we all thought it was practically the end of the world when the beautiful old trees that lined Cadotte leading up to Grand Hotel had to be removed – life did go on.  Young trees were planted to replace them, and now – even though they have only been there a few years, they are already beautifully blazing a path in the Fall.

The way it was when we first starting coming to Mackinac. This is from October, 2005. (Photo: Mike Forrester)

And now. (Photo – Mackinac Revealed)

If and when the Marquette Park corner tree comes down, I will miss it as much as everyone else.  But . . . trees get old and become diseased.  They have a life expectancy and, although Mackinac trees probably live well past that life expectancy because they are so well cared for, eventually the end comes.  Or – because of age and disease and the danger of heavy limbs falling on people or horses or buildings – sometimes they must go before they succumb on their own.

When the tree is gone, I have no doubt in my mind it will be replaced by something beautiful . . . another tree maybe – young and healthy and full of life and potential and promise.  I trust the city fathers and mothers to do what is best.

And as for all of us who have spent so much time whiling away the hours in the shade of that old elm, we will mourn her passing.  But after we’ve mourned, let’s celebrate the gift she gave us by living out her life on that corner.  Let’s celebrate the memories we created under her leafy branches and picture in our minds the show she put on every fall when her leaves were the most brilliant of any tree on the island.  She’s a grand old tree.  And in our memories she always will be.

God bless.

The corner before the tree. Somewhere between 1902 and 1905. (Photo found by Roger Priebe)

 

 

Throw Back Thursday – A Day in the Life of a Mackinac Island Taxi Drive – Part II 3/23/17

Personal Note:  This is Part II of a blog about shadowing a Mackinac Island taxi driver one morning in July of 2009.  _________________________________________________________________

You know all the clothes I had put on for my morning with Jeanine?  Not one single piece came off during the morning.  I never put on the rain gear, but I wore the earmuffs the entire morning and still had them on when I climbed off the taxi at 12:30 back at the barn.  It amazes me (and even more so now) the conditions the drivers work in on the island.  When you take into consideration that their year begins in April and runs roughly through the end of October, you can bet that they will have experienced rain, sleet, freezing temperatures, freezing rain, winds blowing up to 40 mph (and more), and possibly some snow.  Carriage Tours provides their drivers with very nice uniforms including shirts, turtlenecks, vests, warm coats, and caps.  The drivers provide their own rain gear, khaki pants, shoes and gloves.  The taxis all carry blankets under the seats for passengers, but I have never seen a driver use one for himself.  They are much more concerned about how the weather conditions may be affecting their horses than how it is affecting them.

Jeanine and I left the horse barn and went the rest of the way down the hill into town.  The streets at 7 a.m. were quiet and IMG_0970empty.  Our first pick up was a taxi driver in a leg brace.  He can walk down the hill to the barn, and he can still handle his team.  What he can’t do is walk back up the hill.  We picked him up at the taxi stand, where he waited with a cup of coffee for Jeanine.  I jumped off and ran into Marc’s Double Oven for  caffeine for me and climbed back on. 

By the time we got back to the horse barn and dropped off our rider, we had a call at The Grand.  At  The Grand, we pulled up under the porch, and a porter came out and said the people had decided to walk down the hill.  He asked if we would take a cart full of luggage down to the ferry dock, and Jeanine said yes.  We pulled around to the side of The Grand, and a worker hooked the packed cart to the back of the taxi.

grand

IMG_0978We pulled the luggage cart down to the ferry dock where a porter was waiting to unhook it.  We left the docks and started down the street to park and wait on another call, but we never got to stop.  An employee of Wings of Mackinac (a butterfly house next door to our condo) needed a ride up the hill to work.  We turned around in front of Marquette Park and picked up the lady at the taxi stand.

Market Street was empty too at that time of morning.  Later on, after the first ferries arrived, the street would be teeming with visitors, but now it was quiet and peaceful. 

We dropped the worker off at Wings of Mackinac just as another call came in for the Annex.  Jeanine drove the taxi down the road in front of our condo, where Ted was out on the balcony with Maddie and Bear.  I had called him coming up the hill, and he had jokingly asked if I wanted him to meet us at the boardwalk with coffee, bacon and eggs.  Since I knew he was kidding, I declined even the coffee since I had already had a cup.

condotaxi

teddeck

I loved the annex run.  We turned into the state park on the same road where we walk Maddie and Bear.  Driving annex runthrough the woods on a chilly morning is almost surreal.  It is so quiet you could hear your heart beating if it weren’t for the horses hoofbeats covering that sound in your chest.  Jeanine handles the reins like a professional, and Thunder and Andy respond to her every touch.  We talked for a moment about the things that can spook a horse.  Since they wear blinders, they can only see straight in front of them.  That’s why you always approach a horse in blinders from the front, or if you can’t do that, you start talking as you walk up beside them to let them know you are there.  On the island, like anywhere else, the horses get used to where everything is supposed to be.  If something changes, it startles them.  Jeanine said a plastic bag flying across the road is the granddaddy of  “horse spookers”. She said that is why you always see workers picking up any bags that have been thrown down as litter.  A spooked horse in a street full of walkers and bikers is a scary thing to behold.  It does happen – not often, but it does.  Basically though, Jeanine said, the horses on Mackinac Island are what she calls “bomb proof”.  They can handle most anything that comes their way.  That is the way they are trained.

annexluggageWe arrived at a rental house in the annex to find a family group that wasannexpeople heading home after a month’s stay.  They had their luggage out waiting.  The men in the group loaded everything up under the back luggage compartment and strapped it all down.  I knew that we had always loaded and unloaded our own luggage, but I didn’t know until today that the drivers are not allowed to leave their seats.  Can you imagine a spooked horse with no driver? 

Everyone got on the taxi, including Winston – a very cute dog, who his mom said was ready to go home.  I don’t think this family was though.  There were five brothers and one sister (who didn’t make it this trip) and their respective spouses, children and grandchildren.  They have been renting this same house for the last 11 years, spending precious time together, making memories that will live into the future, and just enjoying being family together once a year in this special place.

familywinston

moreannextfamily

One lady in this group (Susan)  followed us on her bicycle.  One of the women riding the taxi explained that the biker was preparing for a biathlon (1/2 mile swim and 5K run) in Delaware.  Susan has won gold, silver, and bronze medals in the Senior Olympics and has appeared in Sports Illustrated.  She was awesome, and you could tell the family was so proud of her.

annexbiker

I had explained to the family why I was riding along and asked permission to take pictures and write about them on the blog.  They were excited, and everyone wanted the blog address.  When we dropped them off at the ferry dock, one of the ladies told me she couldn’t wait to get home and read the story because she taught writing.  My face fell.  I was wondering how I could get back the address I had given them, because the thought of an English teacher reading this made me ’bout have the vapors.  But she explained she wasn’t an English teacher of writing.  She taught writing from the heart.  “Oh”, I said, “that’s what I do.”  She wrote the kindest comment to me today after reading the blog – I confess it made me cry.  I hope I get to see this family again next year when they are on the island.  Friendships could definitely grow there.

Back in town we got a call to pick up a lady at the Lakeview Hotel going to the Governor’s Summer Residence.  Now if you ride a taxi alone, you are charged for two people so it was going to cost this lady $9.50 for that ride.  Right after we picked her up though there was another call for the Governor’s house from a lady at the Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast.  The fare was instantly cut to $4.75 for each lady. The Governor’s Summer Residence is a popular spot for tourists on Wednesdays during the summer.  They open the house to the public in the morning hours, and guided tours are conducted through the first floor of the mansion.  And it’s free!  Ted and I have done the tour, and the house is absolutely beautiful.  I will blog on it one day soon.

With permission granted to photograph them and with blog address given out, I learned that one of the ladies was from Michigan and the other was from Maryland.  The Baltimore lady had stayed on the island an extra day just to see this house, and when we arrived there was a long waiting line. 

govmansionladies

govmansionline

We went back to town by the East Bluff mansions and down a VERY steep hill – so steep that carriages without brakes are not allowed.  We had brakes, but Jeanine assured me that Andy and Thunder could stop the carriage even if the brakes failed.  Good to know.  We stopped to water the horses, letting them drink their fill.

waterhorses

I had the cutest comment this week from another taxi driver’s (Alyssa) grandmother.  She told me all about Alyssa driving taxis, and that she thought Alyssa and Jeanine knew each other.  She was right – they were roommates at one time.  While we were parked waiting on a call, Jeanine saw her coming up the street.  Alyssa parked right across from us, and I jumped off to run over and take her picture.  Her grandmother had already been in touch with her, and Alyssa knew she was going to be so excited to see the picture on the blog.  So this one’s for you, proud Grandmom!

ally

After about a 10 minute wait for our next call (during which I dashed into The Pancake House and got Jeanine and I a MacMuffin with sausage and onions), we were sent to pick up a couple at a hotel on Main Street who wanted to be driven out to British Landing and dropped off.  When we arrived, Jeanine explained that British Landing was the farthest point on the island that a taxi goes, and the cost would be $29.00.  That was fine with them.  They wanted the experience of walking half-way around the island, but because of the weather didn’t want to chance being gone long enough to do the entire 8.2 miles.  We started out on M-185, the highway around the island, and I did my “blog talk” to this nice couple from Kentucky.

kentuckycouple

They were so cute, all snuggled up together in the back seat.  I told them the story of how we ended up on Mackinac, and they told me a little about themselves.  They asked Jeanine what had brought her to the island, and Jeanine said, “the ferry”.  We all cracked up.  Jeanine said she doesn’t use that one a lot, but it does get a laugh every time.  Then she told them the real reason she was here – her love of horses.  As we covered the four miles out to British landing, the clouds over the bridge looked threatening, but the rain never came.

threatheningweather

westbluffWe passed the West Bluff with its “cottages” and went around a drive-it-yourself buggy.  The Kentucky couple asked if the companies used the oldest horses for those carriages.  Jeanine said yes – a lot of people who rent the buggies have no experience at all in driving horses, so they try to put a safe, calm horse with them.  That led to a discussion on the ages of the horses on the island.  Jeanine explained that most horses come to the island at about 5 years of age and will usually work until they are 15 or 20, depending on the horse.  Andy and Thunder are eight or nine years old, so they are just getting started.  The majority of the horses are bought from the Amish who have already trained them to pull loads.   The horses are switched between taxis, livery, tours, and drays each year.

driveit

We let the couple off at Cannonball, the half-way point and a great place to get something to drink and their famous fried pickles.  The lady who runs Cannonball was out the door like a shot when we pulled up – she knows the drivers can’t get off, and she knows they are on a tight schedule.  Those pickles were ready in a flash. 

cannonball

As the last pickle was going down, we got a call to pick up at Pinewood, behind Stonecliffe.  We took the road going up through the center of the island (one of my favorites), and were rewarded by woods filled with blooming wildflowers.

flowers

We waited for nearly 10 minutes for the riders at Pinewood, only to find out that they had decided to take the hotel shuttle downtown.  By then it was 12:15, so Jeanine headed for the barn to switch out her team.  Andy and Thunder would not work again until the next afternoon, have the whole next day off, then begin the cycle again the next morning.  Aiden and Donny were waiting to unhitch the tired horses, and they were led into their stalls, where Jeanine checked to make sure they were ok and had started eating.    The new team, Anna and Newt, were ready and waiting for Jeanine.  When it’s time to switch horses, it doesn’t matter if the taxi has riders or is empty.  The horses are switched on time.  Because of that, the driver cannot get her second team ready, so that is done by the barn workers. 

workdone

 IMG_1085

backaboard

After Jeanine leaves, Andy and Thunder will be unharnessed, curried, brushed and given another bath.  Jeanine climbs aboard for the second half of her shift and starts back downtown.  When she returns to the barn at 7 p.m., she will unharness Anna and Newt and repeat the process the barn workers did for the first team.  She won’t go home until she has done everything she needs to do to make sure her horses are comfortable, fed, and settled in for the night. When that is accomplished, Jeanine’s shift will be over.

I gained a tremendous amount of respect during my ride for these men and women who handle the big horses.  They have to have strength, control, and a calm spirit to accomplish what they do with the horses.  They also must be honest, kind, and patient to deal with the riders they transport.  It’s not an easy job, and on Mackinac Island it is a very important one.  Thanks to Dr. Bill Chambers for allowing me to ride along on a taxi.  And a big, special thanks to Jeanine for allowing me to tag along and ask dozens of questions, and for not making too much fun of me when I couldn’t lift the two tons of harness off my head.  I loved every minute.  See you on the streets!

IMG_1102Taxi Tidbits: 

1)  The morning shift is generally easier on the horses.  In the morning, the majority of the people are going toward town, so the heavy load is going downhill.  In the afternoon, the majority of people are going home, so the heavy load has to be pulled up the hill.

2)  The horses get new shoes every 4-6 weeks – unless they throw one in between.  The front shoes are rubber because the majority of the weight is taken on the front legs, and the rubber gives more bounce.  The back shoes are steel, which contain a gritty substance to give the horse more traction.

3)  What a taxi driver never leaves home without on Mackinac Island?  Raingear, a jacket, and sunglasses.

4)  The island is divided into taxi zones. 

5)  Silly tourist questions:  Does the water go all the way around the island?  When do they swing the Mackinac Bridge over to the island? 

___________________________________________________________________

Another Personal Note:  Spending as many summers as we do on Mackinac Island and writing about our adventures there tends to link us to folks who love the island as much as we do.  Reading back over this story, I realized I’ve been Facebook friends with several of the people in this blog since 2008 and earlier.

First – Jeanine, the taxi driver.  Jeanine left the island and moved to Savannah where she drove carriage tours in that city for several years.  Ted and I looked her up and took one of her tours in that city when we were there for a class reunion at Paula Deen’s house (Ted graduated with Paula from high school).  I connected with Jeanine again when she drove to Sylvester GA (my hometown), to adopt one of the shelter dogs I’d written about at Best Friends Humane Society.

Jeanine now lives and does taxes in upstate New York. This photo is from her Savannah days with one of her all-time favorite horses,Charlie.

Second – Sue from the family we picked up at the house in the Annex (not the Sue on the bike, but the Sue who taught “writing from the heart”).

As recently as a few weeks ago I received this beautiful SoulCollage card Susan had created in memory of Bear.

A few years ago I interviewed Susan’s granddaughter Devon for a blog story.  The then 15-year old had written and published a youth novel (“Get Over It”) about a boy and girl who meet on the island.  She used her memories of spending a month each summer on Mackinac to give authenticity to the story. 

Third – Alyssa, the other taxi driver in the blog above.  Alyssa lives on the island as a year-round resident now and drives for Carriage Tours.  We see her every summer!

Fourth – Alyssa’s grandmother Alice.  Alice contacted me after she read Part I of the taxi driver story and told me she had a granddaughter who also drove taxis – and she thought she was friends with Jeanine.   It became a regular thing for me to snap a photo of Alyssa each time I’d see her and send it to Alice.

I feel so continually blessed to have met each of these precious folks – and hundreds like them – who share my love of Mackinac.

God bless.