Family Time – Part I 6.26.2012

Is there any way you can make Mackinac Island more magical than it already is?   Why yes. . . . just add children (even if they’re grown) and/or grandchildren!

We are having so much fun with Julie, Jordan and Matthew.  They missed coming to the Island for two summers, and Matthew was only six the last time he was here.  At almost 10, he sees everything through different eyes.  And Jordan?  Oh my goodness, she threatened to change families if she couldn’t come this year – that girl LOVES Mackinac.  At age 12 – for Jordan – it’s all about the horses!

Arrival at Shepler’s Ferry dock shortly before 3 p.m. Dock Master Patrick Conlon works his magic and gets us loaded quickly so we can catch a ferry that was only three minutes from departing. Thanks, Patrick!

BIG surprise! Our captain, Jason, invited Jordan and Matthew into the pilot house to help drive the ferry! Matthew thought that was pretty awesome!  Thanks, Shepler’s!

Jill was waiting on the dock to snap a “Welcome to Mackinac” photo.

By 5 o’clock everyone was unpacked, and we went looking for horses with a zip-lock bag filled with carrots. First stop was the new Grand Hotel/Carriage Tour Stable, where first Julie met Joker . . . .

. . . and then Matthew got to pet him also. Ben Mosley, who’s in charge of all the horses at the Grand Hotel, spent a lot of time talking to everyone about the Hackneys and horses in general.  Ben also let us know that by next weekend the stable and museum would be open to the public.

With all my talk about Teddie on the blog this year (Jordan reads her BeBe’s blog faithfully, bless her heart), Jordan couldn’t wait to see him . . .

. . . and let’s just say Teddie shouldn’t need anymore carrots anytime soon!

Dinner on the back deck at the Chippewa. Julie, Jordan. . . .

. . . and Matthew are happy to be here, and BeBe and GDaddy are ecstatic!

“I’m setting my clock for seven – to go running.”  Julie said as she closed her bedroom door on Friday night.

“She’s what?” I said.

“Oh, yeah,” Ted said.  “Julie is running, and Jordan, Matthew and I are going to bike alongside her in the morning.”

“All righty then!”  I said.  “I’ll be happy to have the coffee made when you get back.”

And that’s what I did.

The Hewitts and Ted – merrily running/biking off practically at sunrise on Saturday.  They went all the way to Arch Rock and back. Oh my gosh, I was so impressed.  They were pretty impressed with my coffee too, I think.  I know the kids were impressed by their BeBe’s special Breakfast Fruit concoction.  They order it every time they come.

Bear LOVES when the kids come. He gets so much attention . . .

. . . and they go home begging for a Golden Retriever. They also go home covered in “Bear hair”, which means they probably won’t be getting a Golden.

After breakfast, we girls – and Matthew, who was anxious to get to the Magic Shop and buy a fake cigar that blew baby powder “smoke” – visited all the cute shops downtown. Poor Matthew was pulled in to look at cute shirts and skirts and dresses and shoes for over an hour, but he finally got his cigar. He also got a pack of what looks like Wrigley’s gum, with a piece of gum pushed out for you to grab. Don’t! He happily shocked everyone he could get to reach for the gum. He is SUCH a boy!

Back to the condo for lunch, then we took our four bikes and a borrowed one from condo neightbor Judy and headed out for a ride. We biked to the Annex, walked part of Pontiac Trail, and ended at the lookout on the West Bluff for this photo.

After supper, we walked back downtown for what else? Ice Cream! Ted and Matthew did a little balancing act on the beams in the Burroughs Lot behind the school.

“We’re full now!”

Jordan and Julie, walking back up Fort Street.  Sweet memories.

Wild daisies along Huron Road.

Julie and her daddy, walking home.

It started raining around 2 a.m. Sunday morning and was still pouring when we got up.  For a little while it looked as though we might miss church because of the weather, but by a little after ten it had stopped, and we hurried down the hill to Little Stone Church.  After church and lunch we hopped on our bikes and rode out to the Mackinac Island Community Stable.  Jordan wanted to do some volunteering while she was here, and if she could do it with horses that would be perfect!

Watching a plane land at the airport – on the way to the Community Stable.

She met Leanne Brodeur, Katie and Matt Novakoski, and another Kate (Katie, Matt & Kate are interns this summer at the stable), and they scheduled Jordan to work on Monday from 10 – 2.  One excited little girl!

While we were there, Jordan and Matthew got to ride around the arena on Fiona, one of the 4-H horses.

Jordan on Fiona, watched closely by Katie.

Matthew . . .

. . . and intern Kate, working Fiona after the kids had ridden.

After dinner, Julie and the kids walked downtown for some ice cream, then walked along the beach parallel to the boardwalk. Julie caught this great pic of Jordan and Matthew, with the Star Ferry Line “rooster tail” in the background.

That’s our first three days.  Are BeBe and GDaddy tired?  You bet!  But it’s the happiest tired we’ve been in a long time.  Looking forward to Matt’s arrival on Wednesday evening, then four more days with him here also.

The next blog will be on Tuesday, July 3 (or late Monday night).  That will be a VERY LONG one because I’ll be covering Monday, June 25-July 2 (the day the family leaves to go back to Florida).  I’ve missed writing, but it’s been so wonderful to be able to plan whatever anyone wants to do without thinking, “But I need to write tonight.”  Thank you so much, my friends, for your understanding.  I promise I’ll be back to my normal routine soon.

Please pray for me on Thursday morning as I speak to the Mackinac Island Men’s Breakfast about Bree’s Blog.  Oh my gosh, they’ve even advertised it in the Town Crier!

Hugs to you all – see you back here next Tuesday!  God bless.

A Parade, Some Photographs, a Little Personal Stuff . . . and a Mystery Spot! 6.20.2010

We have a Mystery Spot winner!  For some reason I thought this would be a tough one, but when I turned on the laptop this morning, my email was full of correct answers.  Bob from Wausau, Wisconsin was the first to send his email in at 9:34 p.m., beating the second correct answer by only 21 minutes.  Congratulations, Bob!  Please see the end of this post for the answer.

Settle in folks, cause this one might require a couple of cups of coffee, or a soft drink, or maybe even a cocktail – lots of ground to cover – and lots of personal news too.

A S    P R O M I S E D!   The Mackinac Island Lilac Parade – I’ll caption as many as I can!

Patty, Buz, Ted and I arrived a good hour before the start of the parade and still almost didn’t get a good seat where I could get good photo angles. But, with a little slipping and sliding from very agreeable folks along the curb, we settled in with the huge crowd which lined the street from Mission Point Resort to Windermere Point.

The parade honored the contributions of Native Americans to Mackinac Island and Michigan, and Chief Donald “Duck” Andress and Indian wisdom keepers served collectively as parade Grand Marshals.

We are so proud to call Chief Duck our friend and neighbor. We see and talk with him over the fence every single day. Oh, the stories he can tell!

Wishing I had grabbed a copy of the parade script, so I could caption everything, but some of the photos will have to speak on their own.

Two of Mackinac Island’s Finest. We passed one of our Island policemen a few days ago as he trained on the “ride around the Island”. Believe me, these guys can hit some serious speed!

This group is in the parade every year.

The Royal Canadian Sear Cadet Corps is a Canadian National youth program. Boys and girls aged 12 to 18 may join the RCSC. There is no enrollment fee, and uniforms are loaned at no charge. The organization and rank system is similar to that of the Canadian Navy. Cadets are appointed to non-commissioned member ranks.

Our beautiful Lilac Festival Queen, Zhane’ Nash. Also in the carriage is Dana Roguska, Lilac Princess and the Queen’s Court – Hailey Armstrong, Kyra Kolatski, and Diana Dupre.

Beautiful ladies, beautiful horses.

Riding on the back of this “two-seater” is Andrew Doud, our favorite grocery owner. Andrew was delighting the children by throwing handfuls of candy into the crowd.

A group of our Island Fort Mackinac interpreters . . . .

. . . . and our lovely lady Fort Mackinac interpreters.  These two groups are at the fort every day and are always in character.  When you question them, they answer just as if they are really living in the 1800’s at the very – at that time – remote outpost on Mackinac Island.  So interesting to chat with them!

A couple of interpreters played this period game as they walked the parade route.

Loving all the costumes!  Mackinac Island is SO full of history!

Murdick’s Fudge entry.  You see that little piece of fudge just behind the sign?  That’s how much is usually left by the time I reach the condo, after buying a pound of the sweet stuff when I’m heading home.

Three of many, many beauty queens.

Candi Dunnigan on her gorgeous Arabian and Trish Martin on her beautiful Thoroughbred.

The Horn’s Bar and Yankee Rebel Tavern entry, showing a stockade “back in the day”.  Have I shared how much I love Horn’s Super Nachos?  Yum-my!

Dan Wallen (of Dan Wallen’s Wild West Show)  brought this beautiful horse . . . .

. . . . and pony to the parade.  They also performed at Windermere Point after the Pet Parade.

Ladies from Cindy’s Riding Stable – in Native American costumes.

A beautiful addition to the parade from the Butterfly House!

Another beauty queen – this one riding in a surrey with the fringe on top.

A great entry from the Mackinac Island Yacht Club!

I believe this was the National Cherry Queen.

Don’t you just love bagpipe music!

A cute entry from the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House.

The entry from Mission Point Resort.  Very cool!

Love this group – Therapy Dogs International from Rochester, Michigan.  I talked with them at the Dog & Pony Parade, and they invited Bear and I to walk with them, since he is a registered Pet Therapy Dog with Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society).  We declined so I could take photographs, but maybe next year – or maybe I could persuade our group from Georgia to come up and enter next year!

This group is always a huge hit – from the front . . . .

. . . and from the rear :).

Geez! I wish you could hear all the music while you’re looking at all these photos.

Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island’s pretty, flower-covered bike.

The Cannonball featured their world-famous deep fried pickles.  Oh my gosh!  Have you had one of those yet?  So good!

Leader Dogs for the Blind are always in the parade.  What a great group!

Yeah Girl Scouts!  I was once one of those – a gazillion years ago.

The beautiful Clysdesdale from our yard the other night – all dressed up for the parade!

Magnificent!

Orr Kids Bike Rentals!

Our favorite bike shop – Mackinac Wheels. That’s owner Jimmy Fisher on the blue bike.

Trickster One.

Trickster Two.

The last entry is always the Clown Band, and they are outrageously funny and spectacular musicians!

Whew!  Are you tired and ready to go pop some popcorn or grab a sandwich?  We sure were after watching that afternoon!

Reader Photographs

Jim Foucher – St. Clair, MI. Jim captured the true essence of a Mackinac Island dock porter with this photo he snapped on May 26.

Traci Rackley – Pulaski, Tennessee. A “fish-eye” look at the Grand Hotel porch, snapped Labor Day weekend, 2010.

Tom Wachowski – Arizona.  Tom has traveled to the Island throughout his life, and he and his wife married on the Island in 2005.  He flies corporate jets as his “day job”.  This shot is from the Waco Biplane from Carolina Barnstormers in St. Ignace.  This shot is from 2010.

Stephen Gill – Mt. Pleasant, MI – Flowers at Iroquois Hotel

Please keep sending in your favorite photos to brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.

A Few Favorite Photos From This Week

This week my volunteer partner at the Stuart House Museum wanted to swap days, so I worked on Tuesday. Around noon, the sky began to darken, and I shot this photo out of a front room window in the museum.

A few minutes later, the storm hit.

Tuesday evening (as you can see, the storm is over) we went out to dinner at Mary’s Bistro with friends Bonnie, Don, Patty and Buz.

It was an awesome evening to take the boardwalk on the west end of town home.

We walked by the Windermere Hotel gardens – which have never been lovelier.

The sun’s rays through the clouds gave me chill-bumps they were so beautiful.  You can just make out the bluff houses on the right.

Personal Stuff

  • My blogging friend from the U.P., Kathy Drue, published her post about her visit to Mackinac Island last week.  It is so cute and very well written – told as though “she” was a Carriage Tour driver.  Please check it out at:  http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/please-hop-up-in-the-horse-drawn-carriage-lets-tour-mackinac-island/.
  • I haven’t even had time to mention our daughter and two grandchildren are arriving on the Island on Friday!  They’ll be with us for 10 days, and we are so excited!  They began their journey up from Florida this afternoon – driving.  Our son-in-law Matt will fly up in a week to join them, and then they’ll drive home together.  Safe travel prayers will be appreciated.
  • Next week I’ve been asked to speak about Bree’s Blog at the Men’s Breakfast at the Mackinac Island Yacht Club.  Please have me in your prayers as I prepare.

With all this going on, I’m going to take myself a little blogging vacation for a few days.  I want to be able to enjoy every second the kids are here, without anything else on my mind.  I know you moms and grandmoms out there understand!

So, this will be my last post until NEXT Wednesday, when I’ll be back with the Mystery Spot, more Reader Photos, and some stories about what we’ve been doing with the grandkids.  I’ll miss ya’ll for the next few days, but I can’t wait to spend some quality time with Julie, Jordan, Matt and Matthew!

Mystery Spot Contest

The object of the Mystery Spot is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing (you may have to refresh your page for this to show up). Is there a prize for the winner?  Yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is   . . . .

Where is it?

Again, please email your answers to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.  PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.  Remember, I’ll post the winner at the top of this blog as soon as someone gives the correct answer.

See you next Wednesday with lots of news and photos!  God bless.

Mystery Spot Answer

The anchor in the Mystery Spot is located in the front gate of Silver Birches, a property that is currently listed for sale.  Silver Birches is about 3 1/2 miles from downtown on the road around the Island.  A new roof was put on in autumn of 2011, and everyone hopes to see Silver Birches thriving again very soon.  (I apologize for first stating that the property was abandoned – it was not – it is for sale.)

Promises, Promises . . 6.19.2012

Ya’ll are going to skin me alive, but I can only keep one of my promises tonight.  It’s been an unusually busy week, and my time at the laptop has been limited. Then tonight, when I sat down to write about the Lilac Festival Parade, Maddie and Bear threw a little hizzy fit and insisted that they be allowed to write about the Dog and Pony Show.

So they did.

It’s too late now for me to start on the other parade, but I will get that up sometime tomorrow . . . I PROMISE!

In the meantime, hop on over to the Dog-Eared Page, and check out the post Bear and Maddie just finished.  Maybe you’ll not be too mad at me for putting you off one more day!

See you tomorrow!

The Dog-Eared Page:  http://mackinacislanddogearedpage.wordpress.com

See you Wednesday! 6.17.2012

Hi Friends!

We’ve just walked in the house from a full day of activities.  It’s after nine, and all I want to do is put on my pj’s and hop in the bed.

Hope you’ll forgive me for not writing tonight, but I promise to make up for it on Wednesday with photos from the Dog & Pony Show and the Lilac Festival Parade.

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend – we’ve sure had a great one here!

Here’s a couple of photos from Wednesday’s upcoming post . . .

From the Lilac Festival Parade – Dancers perform to music played on bagpipes.

From the Dog & Pony Show – Rescued greyhounds.

Hustle on back here on Wednesday for more goodies from the finale of the Lilac Festival. 

God bless.

For Daddy 6.17.2012

This is a combination of tributes I wrote for my daddy on Father’s Day in 2010 and 2011.  I share them again today.

I miss you more every year, Daddy – not less. 

For my earthly hero . . . .

My daddy was not an educated man.  He and his brother and sister grew up on a small farm, where they picked cotton under the blistering south Georgia sun and plowed fields behind a mule they kept in the barn behind the house.  He attended high school in Poulan GA and loved telling everyone he had graduated second in his class.  The punch line was there were only two people in his senior class.

You read the “funny papers” to me every Sunday morning until I could read them to you – and you always laughed more than I did.

You taught me how to ride my bike – never even thinking about training wheels – “Go, Suga Buga”, you said. “You can do it!”

He never went to college.  He served during World War II in Africa, then came home to his wife, and a few years later I became their only child.

Daddy worked for the Trailways Bus Line after the war.  He was the “class trip” promotor.  He would put me and mama in our old car, and we would ride all over south Georgia, parking under shade trees on high school campuses.  Mom and I would wait in the car, opening our sack lunches and eating there in the shade, while daddy went inside to help plan senior class trips – with Trailways as the transportation of choice.

You only spanked me once – one tiny “pop” on my leg – and it broke my heart I had disappointed you.

You worked hard, and you taught me to work hard too – to show up, to be on time, to put my best effort into everything.

After the bus line, he had a civil service job at Ft. Benning in Columbus GA.  Then we moved to Sylvester, my mom’s hometown (only seven miles from Poulan, where Daddy was born and raised).  He worked in insurance for a while, working a “debit”, which meant going out and collecting insurance premiums on a monthly basis.

When he got a job as a bookkeeper at the Bank of Worth County in Sylvester, he and mama built their first home – the one they would live in for the rest of their lives.  Even without a formal education beyond high school, daddy moved up the ranks at the bank.  From bookkeeper, he was promoted to teller, then to loan officer, then to Vice President – and when he retired at the age of 65, he was President of the Bank of Worth County.    Things like that just don’t happen anymore.

You were always fair, always honest, always good . . . and so very kind.

You only had a high school diploma, yet you were – and are – the wisest man I’ve ever known.

Daddy never met a stranger and loved to talk.  He was honest, hard-working, and fair to everyone.  At his funeral in 1996, one of the stories the preacher told was about what would happen when parents came into the bank to borrow money to buy a teenager their first car.  Daddy would always ask to speak to the teenager privately.  The probably frightened young person would sit down, and daddy would get up and close the door to his office.  Then he would talk about the responsibility of owning a car – how they should be proud of it and take care of it, how they should never drive recklessly or speed or drive under the influence, how they should take on the task of working to pay for the car insurance themselves.  I smiled hearing this story, because those were the same words I heard from him when he bought me my first car.

Daddy was a pillar of the community, a deacon at the First Baptist Church, a beloved brother to my Uncle Hubert and Aunt Martha, a treasured friend to many.  He was my mama’s first and only love, and he was the only earthly hero I ever had, and that remains true to this day.

Mama was your queen, I was your princess, and God was your king.

You were my guide through all the highs and lows of my life.  And then you were gone, leaving me to forge ahead with what you’d taught me.

It surely was easier when you were here.

When we meet again – as I know we will – my first words will be, “I love you, Daddy.” 

And you’ll grin, and you’ll hug me as only you can hug.  And I’ll hear “Suga Buga” from your lips again, and I’ll laugh out loud.

I wonder if there are funny papers in Heaven.

Happy Father’s Day, daddy.  Love you more!







Festival Week 6.14.2012

The annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival brings thousands of visitors to the Island, and this week has been no exception.  I admit to hanging pretty close to home this week, to avoid the crowds downtown (funny, when we were here for only two weeks in years past, I usually wanted to be where all the action was).  I was downtown on Monday, when I was working at the Stuart House, and it was wonderful to see people really enjoying themselves and all the special festival activities in full swing!

One of my week’s highlights was getting to meet a fellow-blogger I follow from waaay up in the Upper Peninsula – Kathy Drue.  I was drawn to Kathy’s blog(s) a few years ago when she was writing “Opening the Door, Walking Outside” – a 365-day commitment (Dec. 22,2008-Dec. 21, 2009) to spend time each day in the great outdoors.  Kathy is a wonderful photographer, and I love her writing style.  When you read her posts, it’s as though you’re two old friends, walking through the woods together, sharing your thoughts and ideas and dreams.

Kathy was visiting friends and family in the area and came over to spend a little time on Mackinac Island, which she had not visited in 20 years. I met her on the ferry dock at 8 a.m., and we had a great breakfast/chat session on the upstairs outdoor deck of the Chippewa’s Harbor View Restaurant.

After I went to work at ten, Kathy hopped a Carriage Tour, visited the fort, and played “fudgie” until she met me back at the Stuart House at two.  With a three-hour drive north ahead of her, she caught the next ferry and was on her way back home.  Don’t you love it when folks you meet on-line turn out to be friends you wish you could hang out with more often!  I highly recommend Kathy’s current blog http://upwoods.wordpress.com and going back to read her 365-day “outdoor” posts at http://centria.wordpress.com.

I’ve met several blog fans in the last two weeks, and you know how much I love that.  Walking downtown one day, a group of folks sitting on the benches behind the school called, “Bree?” as I walked by.  Nancy Applegate and her mom and dad, Virginia and Stan were on the Island from Ohio.  We had great fun chatting about their trip to the Island.  And while working at the Stuart House Monday, two more blog fans came by to saw hello – Pam from Kalamazoo, MI and Jennifer from Indiana.  Loved meeting all of you!

There’s a New Shop in Town!

Remember me mentioning a few weeks ago that a friend I met through this blog was returning to the Island to open a shop?  Well, she’s been back and forth from Florida for the last several weeks, stocking the store.  And today Ella & Ivy opened its doors!

The shop is located inside the Horse Corral Mall on Main Street. You walk into the mall entrance right by Martha’s Sweet Shop and head toward the shop at the back (looks out on the water) on the right.

Ella & Ivy is packed with great home decor items, gifts, and really cute dog accessories.

Owner Anne Stanard and her friend Diana, who was a huge help to Anne with merchandise and decorating the store.  Ann worked on Mackinac in the 70’s when she was in college and has always wanted to return to open a shop.  She’s retiring at the end of June to follow that dream, and until she arrives full-time, friends will be running the store for her.  You will LOVE her shop!!

My Photo of the Week

A Grand Hotel vintage carriage, driven by Ben Mosley, pulled by two Hackneys, and carrying a couple of Grand VIP’s, stops below our condo to admire the lilacs.

Readers’ Photographs

Since we missed showing these on Wednesday, I thought we’d do them tonight.  The Mystery Spot will be back next Wednesday, along with more Reader Photographs!

Brenda Bergin – Hammond, Indiana. “Horses on East Bluff”.  Brenda was on a private tour last September when her driver stopped to allow riders to get out and take pictures. Another private carriage pulled up and stopped also. Brenda said standing there looking at the carriages, with the beautiful Victorian homes behind them, she could almost imagine she had stepped back in time.

Rob and Deb Elliott – Fort Wayne, Indiana. “White Lilacs at Grand”. Rob and Deb snapped these lilacs on May 25 this spring. They’ve been coming to the Island annually since 1994.

Dave Wewers – Shawnee, Kansas. “Mission Point Gazebo” – dressed up for an evening wedding.

Susan Miller – Phoenix, Arizona. “A New Day Awaits”. Susan had been to the island in the 1950’s as a child with her parents and always dreamed of returning. When her father passed away, and then her mom in 2009, Susan and her husband returned to the Island in 2010 in her parents’ memory. Susan said she “spent three days walking through her childhood memories and making new memories together.” She went on, “Mackinac Island is a magical place. It healed my heart after the loss of my mother. I shed many tears as we drove across the bridge to St. Ignace the day before getting to the Island. I could just see my parents in Heaven smiling and saying, ‘She made it back’.”

Just as I was about to wrap up writing for the night, Ted called from the deck, “Hey, babe, better come out here and see this!””  I walked out in time to see three men leading three H.U.G.E Clydesdale horses across the front lawn.  We knew they were on the Island because while we were eating supper we heard something that is very foreign to our ears here – truck motors!  Looking out the window, we watched as three very long horse trailers, towed by three very large pickup trucks, rolled down the street next to our condo and turned into Arrowhead Stables just across the street from us.  These horses, as well as many more, will be coming in for the next two days to participate in the Lilac Festival Parade on Sunday.  The trucks and trailers are brought over to British Landing on freight boats, unloaded, and then the trucks bring them up through the middle of the island to where they’ll be stabled until Sunday.

The horses were being brought out – three at a time – to be exercised after a long trailer ride.

Clydesdales stand 16.2 – 18 hands tall.

This big guy was a roan – which I’d never seen in a Clydesdale. Usually they are bay or brown.

Anna, our condo neighbor Janice’s daughter, and her cousin Sophie were thrilled to be allowed to pet one of the big horses.

Long, silky feathering on the lower legs are a Clydesdale feature everyone recognizes.

The Clydesdales will be featured in the parade on Sunday, pulling a very large red wagon.

Beautiful!

That’s a wrap for tonight.  Join me back here on Monday (or Sunday night) for all the fun from the final weekend of the Lilac Festival.  It’s going to be a VERY busy three days, and if you can’t be here, I’ll try to make you feel like you were!

God bless.

For Prancer 6.12.2012

No Mystery Spot tonight.  No island photos.

Tonight is a quiet celebration of a life that ended this week on the Island . . . a life that meant so much to so many children in our 4-H Program and to the hundreds of children who, over the years, would just walk by the barn, see him standing there and reach over the fence to pet him.

Tonight we celebrate Prancer.

Little is known about Prancer’s early years – before he was purchased by the Koboski family in Petoskey for their two daughters – but it’s thought he was a “camp” horse.  He stayed with the Koboski girls until they were grown, and then the family donated him to the Mackinac Island 4-H Program.  He spent his summers here for the last six years, and for the last two years Prancer was sponsored by the Mackinac Island Book Club.

Prancer was a beautiful mix of Arabian and Quarter Horse, and Leanne Brodeur, who is in charge of the 4-H program, believed he was in his early 20’s.  She said, “Prancer was a perky horse, but always so good with the children.  He always had a great willingness to do whatever was asked of him, was very patient, and could be depended upon to be good in his stall.  He was gentle, had a huge heart and a special dignity.”

Prancer was already being ridden this summer for lessons, and we saw him just a few nights ago come by the condo, ridden by a summer intern from the Community Stable.

Colic, that bane of a horse-person’s world, took him fast yesterday.  Mackinac Island has two of the best horse-care vets to be found anywhere, but all their efforts failed.

Too often we take for granted these beautiful animals that fill our lives here on the Island.  We see them every day – the big draft horses pulling taxis and carriages and drays.  We see the gorgeous hackneys prancing around the Island, harnessed to vintage carriages.  We become accustomed  to the spirit and beautiful lines of the privately owned Arabians, Friesians, Thoroughbreds, Paints, Pintos and Quarter Horses.  We know all these horses receive the best care in the world.

But we sometimes forget how well-loved they are.  The big Percherons and Belgians in the horse barns receive unbelievable love each day from those who feed and work with them.  They stand patiently downtown while visitors pet them and pose next to their beautiful heads for photographs.  These animals know only love from human hands.  The privately-owned horses are members of their families – pampered, trained with a gentle hand, loved unconditionally.

In an email this morning, Leanne wrote: “Horses have served mankind in peace and war and continue to serve today in a recreational and therapeutic capacity. On the Island, they become part of our everyday life; we have our favorites, we know them by name, and as a community we treasure each of them, maybe some more than others.  They give so much and ask little in return. We are blessed to live in a place where the clip clop and neigh replace the engine roar and honking horn. And we know our transportation by name!”

The loss of even one horse affects the whole Island.  Prancer’s loss has done that, and the comments and tributes to him on Facebook this morning give credence to his life and his influence throughout our community.  Someone posted, ” Prancer was a big-hearted little horse who took great care of the kids.”

Our little Prancer would take that as the best tribute of all.