Dreaming of Mackinac – For Lowell 10/21/2012

The best gift I’ve received from writing Bree’s Blog is getting to meet some of the special people who read it.  Readers find me when they come to the Island, and I love that.  Most know that on nearly any Monday during the summer I’m at the Stuart House, and that “meeting place” has worked out well for all of us.

But Lowell and Faye haven’t visited.  I wanted so badly to get them on the Island and have a stroll down memory lane – going to all the places Lowell has told such wonderful stories about.  But, after a couple of years of begging Lowell and Faye to make a trip up here, I realized that probably just wasn’t going to happen.  

Lowell wrote me a few weeks ago with a plan for Ted and I to stop by and visit on our way home.  He wanted Jill to drive over from Lansing and all of us to have lunch together.  Well, all of you know how Ted is once he’s on the road.  Getting him to veer off-route and off-schedule had about as much chance of happening as him becoming a vegetarian! 

I wrote back to Lowell with an alternate plan.  Jill and I would come for lunch . . . and the rest is now history.

Let me back up a bit . . .

Lowell’s first comment to this blog (as near as I can figure) was December 8, 2009.  He wrote after reading one of my first Winter Updates from the Island (I was writing from Georgia and using photos friends were sending me on-line).  His comment read:

Brenda,

The update and the pictures are beyond marvelous, especially The Grand and French Lane. I walked down that lane many times, but only in the summers when I worked on The Island in the 1950s.

I don’t remember how I came upon your blog, but I have been reading a few entries almost every day for the past week or so. When I have read them all, I would like to send an email message to you with some of my memories which you have been kind enough to evoke for me -if that will be okay with you.

Lowell

Here’s my reply to him:

Lowell,

That would be lovely. I look forward to hearing from you. In case you missed my email somewhere along the way, it’s brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. Thank you for your kind words.
Brenda

On that day in 2009, if anyone had told Lowell or me that three years later we’d be sitting on his swing on the front porch of his home out in the country in Michigan . . . . well, I think we would have both said, “Are you crazy?!”

But here we are!

I’m getting ahead of myself again.

We left Lansing Thursday morning in the rain.

Lansing is Michigan’s state capital, and Jill took us through town so I could see the beautiful capitol building.

Lowell had emailed excellent directions – a whole page of turns and curves and county road numbers and names – and without them we would have NEVER found their house because . . .

. . . Lowell and Faye live in the country!

We passed beautiful old barns . . .

. . . harvested corn fields . . .

. . . and lots of pretty trees.

We didn’t miss a turn and arrived at exactly 10:30 a.m. – just like we said we would.

Lowell, Faye, Timothy, one of their sons, and grandson Mitchel, were there to greet us on the front porch and invite us inside their lovely home, where they’ve lived since 2001.

We settled right down and started talking. That conversation started at 10:40 and lasted until we left a little after 2:00 –  an hour later than we’d planned. We had a LOT to talk about!

And Lowell loves to talk!  I so wish we’d had longer to stay because I could have listened to his stories for a lot longer.  We learned he and Faye have lived quite the “gypsy life” (Lowell’s words) in their 52-year marriage.  They left Michigan in 1964 and in the following years lived in Oregon, Oklahoma and in Texas, where they took a giant leap of faith and sold their new home so Lowell could attend Bible College.  That led him to his life’s work as a minister for the Church of Christ. Lowell and Faye returned to Michigan on September 1, 1979, exactly 15 years after they left.  Since then Lowell has served churches in Houghton Lake, Grand Rapids, and now in rural Olivet since September, 2001.

Lowell shows Jill family photos of his and Faye’s parents.

Lowell is quite the chef, and the lunch he prepared (he told Faye he was doing all the cooking that day) was excellent.  I kept trying to move between Faye and Jill in the den and Lowell in the kitchen, so I missed a lot of Faye’s conversation, but it sure was fun watching Lowell put together a really impressive meal!

On the menu was Chicken Caprese (Lowell’s own recipe), salad and Pear Cake.

While Lowell cooked, Faye enjoyed glancing through some Mackinac Island gifts we thought they’d enjoy – Terry Phipps’ Seasons of Mackinac, Robert Benjamin’s Mackinac Island: 350 Years of History, several Mackinac Island calendars, the Ice Bridge video, and – of course – some fudge!  When I talked to Lowell later that evening he said they had spent the entire afternoon reading the books and watching the video.

Lunch was wonderful, and talk continued around the table. I don’t think there was 30 seconds of silence the entire time we were there . . . almost like coming home for a meal with family.

We were running a little late leaving, but I wanted to see where Lowell wrote all those great comments to my blog. He turned on his desktop . . .

. . . and showed us all the photos he’d saved from the blog in his “Mackinac Island” folder.

Too soon it was time to leave. Jill snapped this photo of us sitting in the swing Lowell had just finished refurbishing . . .

. . . and we said our goodbyes to Lowell, Faye, and Nellie – their little chow-mix.

I saw a lot more of the beautiful autumn scenery on the way back north . . .

. . . . but when we realized we weren’t going to make the 6:30 ferry (the next-to-the-last one for the evening), we pulled into a scenic turn-out about 20 minutes south of Mac City. What a gorgeous view from there!

I believe that’s Burt Lake in the distance.

We turned into Shepler’s Gateway to Mackinac Island with 30 minutes to spare before the last boat . . . .

. . . and spent that 30 minutes all toasty under the heat lamps inside the Shepler tent, admiring their Fall and Halloween display.

We were on the Island at 8:00, and I was up the hill by 8:30 (thank goodness the taxi was waiting!).  What a fun trip!

It’s the stories about Mackinac Island that I wanted to hear from Lowell, and for those no one can tell them better than Lowell himself.  Here are a few of them, in his own words, written a few years ago:

A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE

 by Lowell W. Greene

One sunny morning in early June of 1954 (I was fifteen years old then), I left my family’s home in Cheboygan, Michigan and walked north on Western Avenue about three blocks to Mackinaw Avenue, which was also US 23 & 27. I hitchhiked fifteen miles northwest to Mackinaw City (the Tip o’ The Mit), where I boarded the ferry for Mackinac Island.

 Looking for work in the village, I walked up one side of the street (2-3 blocks) and about halfway down the other side. Finally, I got a job washing dishes at Phil Corby’s “Coffee Cup.” After working there awhile, I became a waiter.

 One day I looked up and there was a member of my family. Then I saw others. I don’t remember who all was there, but I do remember my sister, Freida and her husband, my mother and my sister, Amy and her son, Bobby, and my younger sister, Sally, were also there.

 Still later, I went to the “Carriage Lantern”, a more upscale restaurant across the street from the Chippewa Hotel, and washed dishes for a little more money. It was while I was working there that I had my mother come over to the Island and took her to dinner for her birthday at that restaurant. I had bought her a birthday present of beautiful candle holders at one of the stores on the Island and painstakingly wrapped them in a box. I was so proud. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized it wasn’t really a very nice gift because our house was furnished in Early American and the candle holders were very Danish modern. Of course, she never let on that they were anything but wonderful and they sat on the piano or a table in the living room until she had to move into a nursing home about a year before she died. I have those candle holders now (My mother died Dec. 1, 1983) and I keep them in a cupboard.

 One of the waitresses at the Coffee Cup was Joyce Chambers who lived on the Island. She was married to Pat Chambers whose mother was Ella Chambers. Mrs. Chambers was also the mother of Jeanette (Chambers) Doud of the Windermere Hotel and grandmother of Margaret Doud, the present Mayor of the village. There was another son, but he didn’t live on the Island and I don’t remember his name or where he lived, but I think it was Chicago. Anyway, Joyce told me that Mrs. Chambers had a room that she would rent to me. I rented the room, which was upstairs in a very nice house a few blocks down the street from the Grand Hotel. It was the second or third house from The Little Stone Church.

 The next two summers, 1955 & 1956, I worked at the “Arch Rock Curio Shop” which was about fifty feet, as you are looking toward Lake Huron, to the right of Arch Rock.  I actually walked across Arch Rock once. Oh, the things we do when we are young and foolish.

 Every morning, the owner of the curio shop, Ella Chambers (who was in her 70s), Willard Van Hall and I walked down Cadotte Avenue to Market Street and across to Marquette Park. We walked across the park to a trail and stairway that went up to the East Bluff and then through the woods for about three and a half miles to the shop.

 In the woods we’d see flowers like white Trillium, Michigan’s state flower and yellow Lady Slippers. There are also pink Lady Slippers, but as far as I know, none of the pink flowers grow on Mackinac Island. I remember that one time I picked a nice bouquet of the yellow lady slippers and took them to Zella, the sister of Joyce Chambers. Zella owned and operated a small restaurant and she put the flowers in a vase and set them in the window for all to see. It wasn’t very long until someone from the Mackinac Island State Park system happened to be walking by. He immediately went into the restaurant to tell Zella to get those flowers out of sight because it was against the law to pick them. I could have been arrested. It was a good thing he was a nice guy.

 By the way, I think it was the next year that Zella and her sister Joyce opened the tea room at Fort Mackinac. I don’t know if there had been a restaurant there before or if they were the first to have one there. All I remember is that they had red checked tablecloths on the tables.

 On Sundays, I went to church at The Little Stone Church, which was only two or three doors up the street from where I lived. It was only used from late Spring until early Fall.

 There were times when I was able to care for the children of Joyce and Pat Chambers when they went out for the evening. They lived in the house next to the Episcopal Church.

 There were many times when I sat in a rocking chair on Ella Chambers’ front porch, looking through binoculars at the construction of the Mackinac Bridge “The Mighty Mac,” which spans the Straits of Mackinac, connecting the five mile distance between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. The binoculars were very good and it made everything look so close that it seemed as though I should have been able to talk to the workers.

 One afternoon Pat Chambers took me in his little rowboat to visit the Round Island Light House. I had dreams of someday buying Round Island, restoring the light house and living in it. I think the island was in private hands then, but my dreams never came true. The interior of the building was not in good shape then, but it was still a good solid building. I’m so glad it has been restored and is being taken of. (Yes, I know a sentence isn’t supposed to end that way, but it works for me. I hope it will be okay with you.)

When we were going back to Mackinac Island from Round Island, a lake freighter came through the channel between the two islands. We were very close to it and WOW, was that boat ever big! I don’t mind telling you, I was scared.

 Well, I guess we’ve come to the end of my Memory Lane for now. Thank you for joining me and I hope you’ve enjoyed the little trip. Please have a pleasant evening as you watch the sun set behind the Upper Peninsula west of Mackinac Island.  Lowell

It’s not something that happens a lot, but occasionally you meet someone (even if it’s on-line) that you connect with instantly.  That’s how it was with Lowell’s first comment to Bree’s Blog.  His words made me smile, of course, because they were flattering.  But it was the overwhelming Mackinac connection that touched me so deeply.  Here was a gentlemen who had spent three summers on the Island and who – over 50 years later – was still feeling the Island’s magic.  It happens like that a lot, I think, to those of us who step off the ferry for the first time and feel the draw of this place.  The magic seeps into our blood and skin and – especially – into our hearts.

Lowell’s heart is still full of Mackinac.  He’s lived his 74 years all over the United States, but Mackinac Island still calls to him.  We’re hoping one day – soon – he’ll make it back.

Road Trips, Volley Ball Games, and a little . . . Time Travel 10/19/2012

If there’s ever a time to take a road trip through northern and middle Michigan, fall is when you want to go!

When Jill and I met up in Mackinaw City Wednesday morning, I was hoping – in addition to a wonderful planned visit with Jill’s parents and with Lowell and Faye – that we’d be driving for two days through God’s beautiful autumn handiwork.  The fall showcase peaked on the Island a week or so ago, and with the on-and-off-and-on wind and rain, the color remaining is beginning to look a bit ragged.  Since we’d be traveling four hours south, I thought we just might catch some fresh-down-the-runway color as we traveled downstate first on I-75, then on US 127 into Lansing.

The colors might not have been “fresh”, but they sure were bright!

Unfortunately, after an hour or so of chatting non-stop my eyelids did what they usually do once I get comfy in a car on a long trip – they closed.  I stayed awake more on the return trip, so I did get some pretty foliage photos (more on that on Monday).

Jill drove – partly because we were going to places she knew well – and partly because she knows my can’t-keep-my-eyes open-in-a-car reputation!  Smart girl!

We made one stop so I could see the Soaring Eagle casino in Mt. Pleasant. HUGE does not describe it. A casino, an entertainment venue (Johnny Mathis was up next), a conference center,  and a luxury hotel – all combined into one lush package. Wow!

Jill usually doesn’t go back to Lansing until the end of the season, so this trip (about two weeks early) was to be a surprise for her two nieces, Haley and Ashlynn, who think their Aunt Jill hung the moon, the stars, the planets, and – of course – the sun!  We met Jill’s mom and dad – Joanne and Ken – at the nieces’ home so we’d be there when youngest niece Ashlynn arrived home from school.

Really no words needed! Ashlynn spotted Jill from about a block away and FLEW down the street . . . .

. . . happy, happy, happy little girl!

We all climbed into Ken and Joanne’s car and headed for a volley ball game at the middle school, where 12-year-old Haley would be playing – totally unaware that Aunt Jill was anywhere around.

Haley was warming up when we arrived, and it didn’t take her 10 seconds to spot Jill!

Haley’s team won 2-out-of-three games, and Haley (that’s her on the right side of the net – closest to the net and closest to the camera – #13) made several points. She is quite the little athlete!

Wow – this brought back so many happy memories! I spent a whole lot of “mom” time watching my boys play sports!

After the game and after picking Jill’s car back up, we made a few shopping stops, then went to Ken and Joanne’s home for the evening.

Driving into Jill’s childhood neighborhood.

Joanne warmed up a big pot of beef stew, which really hit the spot after being out and about in a chilly rain.  I turned in fairly early, read for an hour or so, and dropped off to sleep as a train passed in the distance – a sound I haven’t heard in a long while.

I’ve met Jill’s parents on several occasions over the last four summers, but have never had more than a few minutes to talk with them.  So, I especially loved being able to sit down over coffee, cantaloupe, and freshly baked pecan pastry Thursday morning and chat for a while.

Joanne is one of those women who always looks like she’s ready to go someplace special. She is a beautiful lady with a sense of style that comes as naturally as her smile. Ken is sweet and handsome and has a great sense of humor.

Over the few hours I spent with them, I learned that they have been in the same house since the 60’s, purchasing it at the same time other young couples were buying in this East Lansing neighborhood and starting their families.  They even still have some of the same neighbors – like Nancy, who I met Wednesday night and who has lived across the street from them for years.

I learned that Jill is the apple of her daddy’s eye, and that he loves “taking care” of his little girl. Even before I got out of bed Thursday morning, he was outside checking his daughter’s car’s tires, checking the oil . . . just making sure everything was ok.

When I went upstairs to pack my pj’s and put on my traveling clothes, I was suddenly struck with memories of sitting at the breakfast table talking to my mom and dad.  You know how things like that creep up on you – when you least expect them?  I had to sit down on the bed and fight tears before I could go back downstairs to say goodbye.

When I hugged Ken and Joanne goodbye, I was still afraid I was going to start boo-hooing all over them, so I just said, “Thank you so much for having me.”  Joanne looked a little worried, and I said, “I’m ok – just having a sentimental moment.  Can’t talk about it.”

But I will now.

Joanne and Ken aren’t nearly old enough to be my mom and dad.  But sitting there with them that morning – watching the way they interacted, the way they looked at each other, their back-and-forth banter at the breakfast table – took me back to some of those same moments in my childhood home.  The love they feel for each other – and for Jill and their two sons – is so evident on their faces it was almost like something drew me into a time machine and put me back at the red Formica kitchen table on Washington Street in Sylvester, GA.

So, Joanne and Ken – for the warm hospitality and hot stew, for the coffee, sweet cantaloupe, and pecan rolls, for the comfortable bed and lovely linens – thank you so much.  But what I’ll really cherish and what I’ll always remember of our time together is feeling as though I’d stepped through a looking glass into the past – and spent a few minutes with my mama and daddy.

And for that – there aren’t any words special enough to write.

Hope you  join me back here on Sunday evening or Monday morning for the rest of our road trip story – meeting Lowell and Faye Greene.  God bless.

We’re Back! 10/18/2012

We’re back!

I know I said I wasn’t writing tonight, but we had such a wonderful trip I just had to say a few words and get you all primed up . . .

On Friday, I’ll post the story of our trip to Lansing and our night with Jill’s parents, Ken and Joanne – and a few other surprises!

And then – because I know it will take me all weekend to write it, I’m going to have to make you wait until Sunday evening for the story of our trip to meet Lowell and Faye.  But, just let me tell you . . . . .

. . . it was awesome! And windy!

I hope you’re looking as forward to reading this two-parter as I am to writing it.  See you tomorrow with the Lansing trip, and Sunday evening with the Lowell & Faye story!

So MUCH fun! 

Rain or Shine – Road Trip Ahead! 10/16/2012

I love rain and wind and thunderstorms, but I tend to become a hermit when those weather conditions are playing outside my window.   When I say I LOVE bad weather, it doesn’t mean I want to be out IN it – I just want to snuggle down in a comfy chair and watch it . . . and listen to it . . . and sometimes, when the thunder is really close, even feel it!

I am not a duck!

We’ve had at least a week of the wet, windy and cold stuff here on the Island, so I’ve had plenty of chances to exercise my hermit-ism.  Why, I didn’t even go to church Sunday, kissing Ted goodbye as he biked off into fog and mist so thick he disappeared before he got past the first light post of our yard.

I spent my Sunday reading, writing, and making up my “things-to-do” list for the next 18 days.  How in this world I thought we had 4 more weeks before we leave is beyond me, but I sure did mis-count the calendar days.  We leave two weeks from THIS COMING Friday – I just added in a week that doesn’t exist somehow.  But, that’s ok.  When we walk out the door that day there will be checks next to each item on my list . . . . . or not!  As long as we don’t forget Maddie and Bear – or each other – we’ll be ok.

Speaking of Bear (and yes, I know I’m rambling tonight), he hasn’t had a good week.  When I picked him up from the groomer’s a couple of weeks ago, they showed me where they had clipped him too close on one side of his behind.  A little niggling thought ran through my brain . . . . “if they nicked him, he’s going to get a hot spot”. . . and sure enough, a few days later I discovered him viciously biting and licking the spot – by then raw and oozing.  I was not a happy camper, but thank goodness (and because he was just getting over a hot spot when we left Georgia almost six months ago) I came prepared with medication, just in case.   So we started treating it immediately, but even with that it’s taken a week to get it under control – a week with him in a plastic “halo” to keep his mouth away from it, a week of keeping us awake as that same halo knocked up against the bed or the dresser every time he moved, a week of treating a wound that I know really hurt when touched, but which he stoically stood and let me “doctor”.

One funny thing (well, funny to the humans, not necessarily to Bear) did come out of the hot spot ordeal.  I had purchased hair clippers to bring with me this year because the first part of treating a hot spot is to shave the hair off of it and for at least an inch around it.  I quickly discovered I was no good with clippers, so when I took Bear out for a walk that afternoon, I stopped in at the Grand stable and asked Ben if he had some clippers.  “Sure,” he said.  A few minutes later he walked out with a pair of clippers big enough to shave the rump of one of the Grand’s Percherons.

The clippers were bigger than Bear’s whole head!  But, with me holding Bear, and Ben being the barber, Bear now has a really funky haircut on his behind.

This afternoon I finally ventured out and walked to town.  I took some photos, did a little sale shopping, and stopped by at the bookstore to put the final details (with Jill) on our road trip to see Lowell and Faye.

Yep – that’s an umbrella up there. Yep – it was still drizzling rain!

Ok . . . enough rambling, I’m going to close and go pack my little bag and get ready for our trip.  It has to be a LITTLE bag because Jill is taking half her stuff home to Lansing for the winter so she won’t have to take it all in one trip.    So – Lansing Wednesday night, lunch with Lowell and Faye Thursday, and back on the Island Thursday evening.

I can almost promise that I won’t get the post written about our trip on Thursday night, but I WILL get it online sometime on Friday.

Gee – I hope Lowell and Faye are as excited as Jill and I are!

Give me your tired, your poor . . . 10/14/2012

On a few occasions over the last four years, I’ve written a blog post asking interested persons to donate to a certain project that is dear not only to my heart, but to the hearts of all of us on Mackinac Island.  Tonight I can expand that to include the entire state of Michigan and those in other states who love the Island and all of her treasures.

On Friday night Ted and I (and many, many other folks) attended a fish fry at the Mustang Lounge that was a fund raiser for the renovation and relocation of the Mackinac Island Statue of Liberty Replica that has occupied a space on the grounds of our marina since its dedication in 1950.

For those of you who don’t know the story behind why we have the replica on the Island, here’s a bit of history:

In the early ’50s, the Boy Scouts of America marked its 40th anniversary, which had the theme “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty.”

As part of the celebration, the organization donated more than 200 copper replicas of the Statue of Liberty to communities in 39 states, as well as some U.S. territories. The project was the idea of Jack Whitaker, Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.  The exact reason the Statue was placed on Mackinac Island is unknown, but one can presume it was because of the Scout Troops that play a large part at Fort Mackinac exhibits during the summer season.  The Island replica was dedicated on May 28, 1950.

Each of the statues is about 8 1/2 feet tall — without a pedestal — weighs about 300 pounds and was made by a Chicago company.

Their big sister, who stands in New York harbor, is more than 305 feet tall from the ground to the top of her torch and weighs more than 150 tons.

Over the years, most of the replicas had been forgotten and had fallen into disrepair over the decades.

That changed in the late ’90s when a Boy Scout troop in Cheyenne, Wyoming started a national search to find the remaining statues and created a record for them. The troop set up an online registry for the statues at www.cheyennetroop101.org/liberty and invited people to submit information and photos about the replicas.

The Statue of Liberty Replica as she stands today.

The Statue of Liberty Replica on Mackinac Island has been used every fifth year to commemorate the attacks on 9/11/2001, and the Patriot Day Services were conducted at that  location in 2006 and 2011.

The replica has withstood 62 years of our harsh northern Michigan winters and is now in need of the kind of repair work only a specialist can handle – dents in the copper skin, seams that need to be ground out or filled in, and the spikes on her crown need to be replaced. Masons, excavating crews and landscapers will also need be involved.

American Legion post 299 on Mackinac Island wants to fix the statue and bring it back to its original form.  Post 299 Commander Paul Waundrie, said, “We are calling our drive to repair and relocate this statue, the ‘Save Our Statue’ or ‘S.O.S.’ Project.”  The City of Mackinac Island is also supporting the project.

Moving the statue and centering it approximately 100 feet west from where she is currently located will give her a more prominent location to be seen by people entering the harbor, and she will be more easily seen from the roadway.

Waundrie said, “With the help of citizens, businesses, etc., that visit and are located here, we can accomplish this.  We don’t have a timeline for completing this project; however, every year we wait to do this the price will increase.  We are in the process of placing our project onto television news programs and newspapers around the State of Michigan. We are enlisting the help of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, we are asking for donations from Veteran Service Organizations and anyone else that would like to help.  This project can be completed by ‘We the People’.  The cost presently is $60,880.18, but we will need additional monies to pay for another plaque and other unforeseen costs that could be generated by the project.  Just $1.00 from 60,000 plus people will make this happen.  We are proud to be a part of this project and we hope you will be also.”

With the magic of a graphics program, Marta Olson has created this image of the statue as she will look after she is moved to a more prominent spot on the grounds of the marina.

Wandrie said he believes Mackinac Island’s replica is the only one of its kind in Michigan.

“We’ve checked into it and it’s the only one in Michigan as far as we know,” he said. “It’s a historic part of Mackinac Island and the state of Michigan.  It’s been here for 62 years, and we would love to be able to show it as it was when it first came to the island.”

If you’d be interested in participating in this patriotic cause, donations can be sent to: American Legion Post 299, P.O. Box 1518, Mackinac Island, MI 49757.  Or, if you’re on the Island and would like to donate in person, that can be done at the DPW Office on the 2nd floor of the Community Hall (see Bruce or Ellen).  Checks should be made payable to American Legion Post #299.

At this time in our nation’s history, when we seem to be losing too many of our country’s symbols of freedom, it seems very important to take on this task of refurbishing this replica of America’s Lady Liberty.

Note:  Some information for this story from a Charles Ramirez story in the Detroit News.

Going Back and Catching Up 10/11/2012

Our non-stop week came to a screeching halt this morning when we awoke to rain, wind, and low temperatures that haven’t risen more than a degree or two all day.  In fact, at 11:30 this morning, it was 38 (with a wind chill of 30), it was raining, and the wind was seriously blowing.

I stood, coffee mug in hand, this morning and looked out the deck doors.

I had planned to walk downtown and photograph my god-horse Teddie leaving the Island for the winter, but I totally wimped out on that because of the weather.  And – because I’m such a wimp – I also didn’t get to meet a pair of blog readers Jill had told I would be at the dock this morning.  I felt SO bad about that!

Thank goodness JILL showed up (I always rationalize it’s easier for Jill since she LIVES downtown). Tony and Barbara from Tennessee (couple on the left) were there to see Teddie and me . . . .

. . . but if they had to choose between me and and a big, handsome Friesian, I’d say they definitely got the best deal! Mary, Teddie’s mom, emailed me later that he arrived safe and sound in Mac City – rolling waves and all.

 

On Friday morning, Tony and Barbara emailed this pic of Mary leading Teddie onto the boat on Thursday, so I’ve added it to yesterday’s blog post. Boy, I KNOW I’m wimpy when I’m having blog readers do my job for me!

While Jill, my blog fans and Mary and Teddie sloshed around in the rain, Ted and I turned up the fireplace, got out our current books and settled in for cozy day.  Again – I am a wimp.

GOING BACK . . .

Back in July, during a thunderstorm, an enormous red oak at Wawashkamo Golf Course fell during high winds.

Why is that tree falling important?  Well, I’ll tell you . . .

In one of the first actions of the War of 1812, British troops surprised and captured Fort Mackinac from the Americans on July 17, 1812. Two years later, 750 American troops attempted to recapture Mackinac Island. To counter the American attack, British, Canadian, and Native American troops took up positions on the fields of Michael Dousman’s farm. On the afternoon of August 4, 1814, the two forces met and fought the Battle of Mackinac Island. The Americans were defeated, and the battle left Mackinac in British hands until the end of the war.

Mackinac Associates Vice President Peter Pellerito, among others, believed this red oak could have been a “witness” to that American defeat.

Pellerito arranged for a large cross-section of the tree to be examined by Dean Reid, a forester. Meticulously counting each ring and allowing for the height at which the section was cut, Reid determined the age of the tree to be 207 years old. Though very small at the time, there’s no doubt that this red oak was present during the battle and can be designated a “witness tree”.

A cross-section of the 200 year old oak tree. A Michigan driver’s license is inserted to give scale to the image.

The remains of the fallen tree are in storage, and there is interest in using the rings of the tree to show a natural timeline for the island.  Now how cool is that!

CATCHING UP . . .

Blog readers Joyce and Bob visited me recently at the Stuart House. They were on the Island with J.P. and Liz.

The folks at the Riviera Motel in Mackinaw City snapped this awesome photo on Sept. 30. It shows the aurora borealis over the Straits of Mackinac on that evening. I have yet to see this astonishing sight, but I sure have been looking!

When I was in Cheboygan last week with Bear, I rode around in a residential neighborhood looking at the trees all decked out in their fall dresses. This yard was one of my favorites.

The Grand, as I walked home on Monday. You can see how hard the wind is blowing by looking at the flag atop the cupola and the grasses in the pots at the sitting area.

The old Grand Hotel stable on Sunday. We heard this week that work will be done on the stable, and it will ultimately be used as a storage facility.

Last Sunday’s sunrise. (Photo credit: Mission Point Resort)

Same Sunday. Same sunrise – at a little different time – and at a different location. I love that Patrick caught the bird in flight in this one. (Photo credit: Patrick Conlon)

EXCITING THINGS TO COME . . .

Before we leave we’re expecting a last-minute visit from Jason and Blair from Atlanta.  Jason has always wanted to be on the Island for the Halloween parties downtown, and this year they are trying to get up here for that.  If they make it, they’ll be leaving the Island on Oct. 30 (the parties are the weekend before that), and we’ll be leaving a few days earlier than we thought.  We were planning to leave on Sunday, the 4th, but we’ve just learned there will only be two ferries off the Island on Sundays after Oct. 31 (when Arnold Transit becomes the sole winter ferry), and the first doesn’t leave the Island until 12:30.  There’s no way we can make it home with only one night on the road if we leave after noon.  So we’ve had to rethink that, and we’ll probably leave on Friday, Nov. 2, when there’s an 8 a.m. boat.

Big news for the coming week!  Jill and I are going on a road trip to see one of my most loyal fans.  Lowell Green and his wife Faye have been reading Bree’s Blog practically since I wrote the first word four summers ago, and Lowell has loved Mackinac Island since he worked here as a young man.  I begged and begged them to come to the Island so we can show them around to all the places he’s talked about in comments over the years, but so far, no luck on that.

So, Jill and I decided to just go take a little of Mackinac to them!  We leave on Wednesday, spend the night with Jill’s parents in Lansing that night, then go have lunch with Lowell and Faye on Thursday – we’ll be back on the Island that night.  We are SO EXCITED, and I think Lowell and Faye are too.  Can’t wait to share our visit with you!

Hoping everyone enjoys the weekend.  The days are flying by now, and “things to do” are beginning to be turned into lists so nothing is forgotten.  Can’t believe we’ll leaving in four weeks – just . . . . cannot . . . . believe . . . . it.

God bless.

End of Season Slow-Down. Not! 10/9/2012

How much more could we pack into the last few days!

And whatever happened to the end-of-season-slow-down?

Hasn’t happened.  Shows no sign of happening!

What can I say except settle back with your coffee or your lunch or your afternoon cup of tea, ’cause we’ve got a lot to talk about!

SATURDAY

I had no plans at all to leave the condo on Saturday.  I was thinking, “book, blanket, fireplace, one dog in lap and one at my feet, a little nap . . . .”.  Anyway, you get my drift.

It was all working out just like that until I remembered I wanted to attend the very first Annual Fall Fashion Show that was going to be the ending event for Great Turtle Shopping Week.  It didn’t start until 5:00 so I still got in some reading and napping, and then I bundled up and walked downtown.

On the way down the hill, I passed this bride and groom posing for photographs in the middle of the Grand Hotel’s flower gardens. Bless the bride’s heart – I know she was chilly, but you’d never know it from the smile on her face!

A few minutes later they were being whisked away in a wedding carriage, and she was wrapped up in a snuggly blanket.

The fashion show was held downstairs at the Lilac Tree Hotel & Spa. Before the show we browsed all the raffle goodies and dropped tickets into the jars sitting next to the items we wanted a chance to win.

There was a really good turnout, and everyone enjoyed the sodas and munchies provided before the show.

It was so fun that most of the models were students at the Mackinac Island Public School – like Colton here . . .

. . . and Will . . .

. . . Diana . . .

. . . and Hailey. I love that I know the families of all these young people now!

The show was a great success, and proceeds went to the Close Up Foundation, which will allow Mackinac Island Public School students to travel to Washington, D.C. in the spring.  I’m hoping this was the first of many more events like this to come.  Maybe there will be one in the spring to kick off next season!

SUNDAY

Sunday was supposed to be chilly and cloudy, but the sun warmed everything up nicely, and by the time we were out of church, the clouds were gone and it was a beautiful day!

After church, a group of us girls walked up to the Grand to try and catch the end of a vintage jewelry display.  We were a little too late for that, but we really had fun showing one of our group (she was from Canada and had never been inside the Grand) what she’d been missing!

We used the stairs instead of the elevator and rushed through each floor (two ladies in the group had to catch an early ferry), stopping to peek in rooms that were being cleaned – including the Presidential Suite!  Finally we reached the cupola . . .

This is another of those places on the Island that I can’t get enough of – morning, mid-day, or evening, rainy, sunny, or foggy – the views are always incredible. Here we’re looking straight out to the Round Island Light . . .

. . . same view, but further away from the window and showing part of  that magnificent chandelier . . .

. . . and from a side window. Awesome – just awesome view!

The other ladies headed downtown, and looking in that direction, I thought the day was continuing to look promising . .

. . . then I turned around and looked UP the hill.  Uh oh!

I shifted my walk into another gear and hurried home . . .

. . .almost there.

I made it inside and changed my clothes – just before something started hitting the deck that didn’t sound like rain. Nope – it was hail!  Back on the couch with my book!

MONDAY

Monday was my last day working at the Stuart House this season.  I so enjoy doing that.  Not only do I get to talk about my wonderful Mackinac to visitors, but I get to meet nice people from all over the world. 

Ted walked down to the post office with Bear and Maddie while I was working and then brought them to the museum.  They arrived just after Frankie came in with Hershey, Bear’s best bud.

Everyone said hello.

There were hugs . . .

. . . play fights . . .

. . . and a few doggie secrets shared.

Bear wasn’t too happy when Ted said, “We gotta go!” He had to leave Hershey AND his mom!

It was another windy day walking home. Even the geese seemed to be having trouble coming in for a landing on the Grand’s golf course!

Just past the Grand I met a couple (Gary and Sue) coming down the hill who called out, “Are you Bree?”  We chatted a few minutes, and for some stupid reason I didn’t get their photo.  I was giving myself a “talking-to” about forgetting to take a pic, when two gentlemen coming toward me with two Shelties called out, “Aren’t you Bree?”  

Scot said he has been trying to “run into me” for three years. He and Stephen love Mackinac and come to the Island every year.  So, so glad we finally made a connection!

I hadn’t gone another 10 yards when my favorite carriage driver, Molly, hailed me and said, “I have a couple of your blog readers on board!” So I got to meet Chris and Jim!

Jill told me this afternoon there had been two other blog fans in during the day.  WOW!  Everyone must have wanted to come at once to see all the fall color – we should have had a blog party!

I think that about covers the weekend!  Lots of good stuff coming up in the next three weeks that I’ll let you in on in a few days.  Enjoy the rest of the week, and I’ll see you back here on Friday!