Snow 2/19/17

When I think of Mackinac Island in the winter, it is with the wistful spirit of a south Georgia woman who hasn’t had nearly enough snow in her life.  I think some of that may be just the human condition of always wanting what we don’t have.

I’m pretty sure there are folks up north who dream of winters spent in Florida – warm beaches, sunglasses, big umbrellas in the sand (and tiny ones in tall, cool drinks), waves lapping up to toes (but not far enough to wet the beach blanket), and seagulls and pelicans doing dips and dives into the surf after fish and other sea creatures.  People in California probably yearn for time in New York, and Texas residents may dream of having a little cottage in New England.

But I dream of snow.  I know I’ve written variations on this theme before, and I know y’all are probably tired of hearing it.  But it’s such a part of me now that I could probably write at least a few sentences about my love of snow every single day.

When did my romance with snow begin?  I can tell you exactly.

Many, many years ago – a long, long time before Ted – I sat with friends at a table in Helen, GA.  We had gone up for a late Fall weekend in the mountains of north Georgia and were surprised beyond belief when, just as we were going to dinner, it began to snow.  It was the second time I’d ever seen snow and the first time I’d ever seen more than a few flurries.  We had reservations at a small charming restaurant off the beaten path and part-way up a mountain – actually it was an old home whose rooms had been turned into private little hideaways, with only a table or two sharing the same space.  Beautiful music was playing softly throughout the house, and somehow we were fortunate enough to be seated at a window.

I have no recollection at all of what I ate that night or even if the food was good.  All I remember is sitting at that window, chin propped on my hand, staring dreamily through lacey curtains as snow silently fell, settling on tree limbs and the front porch of this old house.  I could see the lights of a small town below us, twinkling off and on through the big, fluffy snowflakes.  I fell in love with snow that evening – the beauty, romance, stillness, silence and dignified grace of it.  I can pull that night up at will and remember being filled with  the quiet joy of that scene. It remains one of my fondest memories.

While searching for blog material today I kept going back to snow photos from Mackinac.  The ones below are shared by Greg Main, who spends his winters (and summers) on the island.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.

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Snowing so hard I can barely recognize it – but pretty sure this is Market Street.

Another view of Market Street, with snowmobiles

Another view of Market Street, with a few snowmobiles ready to take folks home.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The road that circle Fort Holmes.

The road that circles Fort Holmes – at sunrise.

Silent night, Holy night.

Silent night, Holy night.

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A panoramic view of the homes across from the Board Walk.

 

A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hug to light the way.

A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hung to light the way.

A real life Snow Village.

A real life Snow Village . . . .

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The Snow Village as she sleeps.

I know my love affair with snow is viewed with the biased eyes of one who has never lived with it day after day, or dealt with the miseries it brings to daily living and travel.  No, my affair with snow is “pure as the driven” Mackinac version – no cars to pollute it, no garbage thrown on top of it, no traffic jams caused by it.  Seeing Mackinac in the snow transports me back to the scene from that north Georgia window so many years ago.  And that’s the vision I choose to cling to over the years.

God bless.

 

 

Roller Coasters and Pretty Trees 10/8/2013

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  What an incredible few days on the roller coaster this has been.

Our emotions have been so raw, our thoughts so scattered, and our outlook so mixed we have found it hard to even come close to having a normal day yet. We’ve rethought all our plans – second guessing everything.  In the process of trying to find something on the island to rent for two months, we’ve discovered there just isn’t a lot to choose from . . . not if two dogs are involved.  And I don’t blame people for that – they have no way of knowing our dogs are perfect :).  So we continue to search for a spot to rent, as we pack a little each day.

I might as well go ahead and confess we’ve also looked at four houses on the Island in the last two days.  In the hours and hours of conversation Ted and I have had, we’ve come to the conclusion that all this just happened too fast for us.  We honestly felt the condo wouldn’t sell for 3-5 years.  For it to sell in one season can only be the workings of God  . . . giving us one last season, but closing the door on our condo as our second home.  We have to remember God works in His own time, and His time is perfect.

We have finally admitted we have just got to step back, pack up, leave the island at the end of the month, and go home to Georgia.  There, in our sweet little house by the water, we will be away from the emotional pull of Mackinac that draws us so strongly – as we talk with friends, walk the trails and streets, and prepare to pass our blessed little condo on to Steve and Cindy.   We’ve spent quite a lot of time talking with them this week, and we love them already. They have such a desire to live here and become part of this community, and I know they are going to be incredibly happy.  We are excited for them!   Cindy melted my heart this morning when she told me, during a phone conversation, “We’d looked at so many places over the past months, but nothing seemed right.  Then we walked into your condo, and we instantly felt at home.”

So that’s how things stand right now.  We’ve eased back into our original plan, except instead of waiting until we sell our lake house to look for something in Florida, we’re going to begin looking as soon as we get home and settled.  We need to test the waters on the market from Amelia Island all the way down the east coast of Florida to New Smyrna Beach.  If we find a place where we “instantly feel at home”, we may go ahead and buy.  From there the plan changes once more.  We’ll put the house in Georgia on the market, and when it sells (1 – ? years), we might see if we can find a little house on the Island.  As Ted says, “We just don’t know if we’re ready to not be Mackinac residents.”  In the meantime, we’ll continue to search for a place to rent which will allow our furbabies to tag along.

One more thing.  I will never in a gazillion years be able to thank y’all enough for your comments on all this.  I’ve read and re-read them through eyes blurry with tears.  Some of you made some great points and suggestions, which we will ponder.  But most of all, you reminded us that we need to leave it all in God’s hands.  He’s working on everything for us, and even though we have our plan, it might not be His.  But His will be perfect.

OK!  Enough of all that for tonight.  I have PICTURES!  Some are from the past few days, and some are from our dog walk this afternoon.  All the rain and wind over the last four days blew a few of our leaves down before their time, but we still have plenty left – so COME ON UP!

PAST DAYS

Ted photographed Ft. Holmes a few days before the rains came.

These first five photos are Ted’s.  He was up at Ft. Holmes a few days before the rains came . . .

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. . . and as you can see, the golds and reds were really starting to pop.

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Birch trees and fall colors – perfect combination.

Ted walked over to Arch Rock and shot this photo of the new stairs leading from Arch Rock down to M-185.  They'll be ready in the Spring!

Ted walked over to Arch Rock and shot this photo of the new stairs leading down to M-185. They’ll be ready in the Spring!

Now see.  I just had a moment.  As I typed “they’ll be ready in the Spring”, I realized I won’t be here to see the finished product until later in the summer.  I’m really having trouble accepting that – but I know I have to.  Sigh.

One last Ted photo.

One last Ted photo – Mission Point from Robinson’s Folly.  Did you see the gull ?

The day we found out our condo was sold, we went out to The Woods Restaurant to celebrate. As always, the riide home through the "real" woods was magical. Our driver had Grand Hotel folks on board, so we got to ride through the Grand portico . . .

The day we found out our condo was sold, we went out to The Woods Restaurant to celebrate. As always, the ride home through the “real” woods was magical. Our driver had Grand Hotel folks on board, so we got to ride through the Grand portico . . .

. . .

. . .and catch the last of the sun’s rays through the fringe on our carriage.

I will go ahead an apologize.  Last weekend was the Somewhere in Time weekend at the Grand Hotel, and I didn't step foot in the Grand one time.  Too much going on at once.  I did snap a couple of folks as I walked down to the real estate office to sign papers.

I will go ahead an apologize. Last weekend was the Somewhere in Time weekend at the Grand Hotel, and I didn’t step foot in the Grand one time. Too much going on at once. I did snap this photo of a couple of folks as I walked down to the real estate office to sign papers.

This couple saw me with my camera and stopped to pose without me even asking!

This couple saw me with my camera and stopped to pose without me even asking!

Outside Mackinac Island Realty after contract signing.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Outside Mackinac Island Realty after contract signing. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

That same day Vince and Molly boarded the ferry . . .

That same day Vince and Molly boarded the ferry . . .

. . . hugged us all goodbye . . .

. . . hugged us all goodbye . . .

. . . and left the Island for the last time as our pastor and his wife.  They are returning to their home in Sarasota FL, where they'll be serving a church on Long Boat Key.  Monday was just a sad day all around.

. . . and left the Island for the last time as our pastor and his wife. They are returning to their home in Sarasota FL, where they’ll be serving a church on Long Boat Key.

One of the houses we looked at today was in Trillium Heights, where the Beech, Oak and Maple trees are clothed in

One of the houses we looked at today was in Trillium Heights, where the Beech, Oak and Maple trees are clothed for Fall.

Would you believe I took this shot out of a basement window in that Trillium Heights home?

Would you believe I took this shot looking up and out through a basement window in that Trillium Heights home?

Village trees.

Village trees.

DOG WALK ON TUESDAY

The winds have left our trails blanketed in short, brown pine needles.

The winds have left our trails blanketed in short, brown pine needles.

Bear - in front of McGyver's turn-out.

Bear – in front of McGyver’s corral – sniffing stuff he shouldn’t be sniffing.

A West Bluff horse

A West Bluff horse checks to see if Ted brought any carrots.

Pretty trees, pretty horse.

Pretty trees, pretty horse.

A Star Ferry makes its last trip of the day to the Island.

A Star Ferry makes its last trip of the day to the Island.

Flowers and a Monarch Butterfly  in front of a West Bluff cottage.

Flowers in front of a West Bluff cottage.  Did you spot the Monarch?

Brent, heading to the barn with a couple of Belgians.

Brent, heading to the barn with a couple of Belgians.

Bear made a new friend behind a bluff cottage - who had treats in the barn.  Maddie was chasing chipmunks.

Bear made a new friend behind a bluff cottage who had treats in the barn. Maddie was chasing chipmunks.

Going home for dinner.

Going home for dinner.

A gorgeous tree at the Barn View residence.

A gorgeous tree at the Barn View residence.

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow we have an electrician (our hot water heater went out today) and a house inspector coming.  Then lunch with two great friends, Sue and Terry Conlon.  Hmmmm . . . I can always pack some more on Thursday!

See you in a few days!  God bless.

Subtle Changes 9/22/2013

Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled. The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season’s last crops.  Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis

I’ve always loved the Peanuts cartoon characters, and being a dog lover, that little Beagle Snoopy is a favorite of mine.  Snoopy always finds a way to express his most joyous moments in the simplest of terms . . . like jumping into a pile of leaves, with his buddy Woodstock (after all, our experiences are always better if shared with a friend), to show us how much fun Fall is!

fall

Autumn has always been my favorite season.  There’s just something so mellow about a fall day – the crackle of dry leaves under my feet as I walk the roads and trails of Mackinac Island and the rustle of leaves high above me in trees that are being gently rocked by the wind.  At home in Georgia Autumn includes the smell of leaves burning in great piles down by the water or out by the road.  Bright crimson berries appear on the island and in our yard at the lake – making me think of Christmas and where I can use those berries as decorations. Pine cones are everywhere, and the earth smells rich and wet.

After the hurly-burly of Summer, the serenity of Fall is a welcome visitor.

I was thinking all this as Ted and I walked Maddie and Bear up to Ft. Holmes late this afternoon.  The highs here for the last two days have only been in the 50’s, and shorts and t-shirts have been replaced with sweaters, jeans and an occasional scarf.  It was only after I began to experience the Falls up north that I discovered the wonderful warmth offered by yards of soft material wrapped around my neck.  It’s amazing the difference a scarf makes in your body temperature!

We walked two blocks up Cadotte to Fifth Street and turned right.  That block ends with a short trail through a wooded area, and it was there I  caught on film the first color changes the Village.

We walked two blocks up Cadotte to Fifth Street and turned right. That block ends with a short trail through a wooded area, and it was there I caught on film the first color changes in the Village.

Love, love, love yellow flowers.  Are these brown-eyed Susans?  Somebody tell me please!

Love, love, love yellow flowers. Somebody tell me what these are please!

Same flowers - with a bee.

Same flowers – with a bee.  Which led  Ted and I into a “discussion” on the difference between Bumblebees and Honeybees.  I think this is a Bumblebee – a small one.  It was VERY sluggish today, barely moving.  Ours in Georgia – really BIG ones – get that way late in the Fall after the temps dive.  It’s my understanding that all Bumblebees die in the Fall except for the pregnant Queen, but Honeybees live on in their hive all winter, existing on the sweet honey they’ve produced all summer.  Speak up if you know the real story!

Crossing Turtle Park we came across some red

Crossing Turtle Park we came upon some leaves already turning red.

The entrance to the park on the "cemetery" side.

The entrance to the park on the “cemetery” side.

Bear and Maddie kept their noses to the ground practically the entire walk.  So MUCH to smell!

Bear and Maddie kept their noses to the ground practically the entire walk. So MUCH to smell!

Spots of yellow in the cemeteries.

Spots of yellow in the cemeteries . . .

. . . and beautiful red berries.

. . . and those beautiful red berries.

One of my favorite Mackinac Island "roads less taken."

One of my favorite Mackinac Island “roads less traveled” – up past the cemeteries, almost to Lookout Point.

Bear dragged me over to the steps leading down to Sugar Loaf, but I said, "Another day!"

Bear dragged me over to the steps leading down to Sugar Loaf, but I had to disappoint him and say, “Another day!”

Lookout Point

Lookout Point in the low light of late afternoon.  Over the fence . . .

. . . the trees surrounding Sugar Loaf are beginning their slow change.

. . . the trees surrounding Sugar Loaf are beginning their slow change to gold.

Right over the fence at Lookout Point there have been two trees as long as I can remember going up there.  One has been dead for quite a few years, and now it looks like maybe lightning maybe broke it off.

Right over the fence at Lookout Point there have been two trees as long as I can remember going up there. One has been dead for quite a few years, and now it looks like lightning maybe broke it off – or maybe it was cut down.  Either way it reminds me of an alligator coming up out of the water with its head held straight up toward the sky and its mouth open.  See the eye?  Yes, I know it looks like half his snout is chopped off.   What do you see?

Walking toward Ft. Holmes.

Walking toward Ft. Holmes – my FAVORITE “road less traveled” – whatever the season.

The sounds of children playing met us as we arrived at Ft. Holmes.  Several boys and girls were running in and out and along the top of the embackments.

The sounds of children playing met us as we arrived at Ft. Holmes. Several boys and girls were running in and out of the entrance and along the top of the embankments.  They left with their parents soon after we arrived, and we had the whole hilltop to ourselves.

More red . . .

More red berries.

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Bear – taking a little rest.

There's talk that Ft. Holmes may soon be restored so visitors will be able to see what it really looked like in the early 1800's.

There’s talk that Ft. Holmes may soon be restored so visitors will be able to see what it really looked like in the early 1800’s.  I personally love the solitude of how it stands now – one of those places – like Anne’s Tablet – that people either don’t know about – or don’t want to climb up to.  I love it like it is.

It’s been a good weekend – not busy, quiet (except for 1200 Michigan Republicans at their convention).  But they stayed downtown, and I stayed up the hill, so all was good.  Bear’s hotspot has finally turned the corner toward healing.  Lordy!  Those things drive ME crazy trying to give him some relief and drive HIM crazy ’cause I haven’t found the magic solution yet – at least not one that works fast enough for either of us.

Hope you’re all doing well out there and that you have a fantastic week, I’ll be back in a few days with more news, good Lord willing.  Hugs to you all.  God bless.

Lowell & Faye’s Amazing Trip to Mackinac Island – Part II 6/27/2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Faye and I walked east past Marquette Park, the marina, and the Manoogian Art Museum, which used to be the Mackinac Island Indian Dormitory until it became the Mackinac Island Public School for nearly a hundred years.  We continued walking  past the Bay View Inn, the Island House Hotel, originally built in 1852 with the east wing added in 1895 and the west wing added in 1912, Ste. Anne’s Church, the Old Mission Church and many residences.  As we walked along, I noticed a mourning dove sitting on a picket fence, no more than three feet from me.  Apparently, the bird was welcoming us to the Island because it looked at us but never left the fence.  Faye took a picture and we continued our walk.

When we arrived back at the Chippewa, Brenda & Ted, Jill, Lora and Sarah were already there.  It was only a short time until the Town Crier reporter, Stephanie Fortino, walked in and the surprises for the day really began.  Stephanie started the interview right there in the lobby.  After a short time, Brenda said the taxi was ready.  The “taxi” had turned into a beautiful carriage from the Grand Hotel, pulled by a team of the most beautiful high-stepping Hackney Horses and with Ben Mosely, Grand Hotel Stable Manager, as the driver.  He later informed me that Hackneys are born with that high-stepping gait.

Brenda, Lowell and Stephanie.  Stephanie spent several hours with us as we were touring the island.  She was interviewing Lowell for the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

Brenda, Lowell and Stephanie. Stephanie spent several hours with us as we were touring the island. She was interviewing Lowell for the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

Ted riding shotgun with Ben as Brenda gets their picture.  Stephanie the Town Crier reporter is at the left.

Ted riding shotgun with Ben as Brenda gets their picture. Stephanie, the Town Crier reporter, is at the left.

Ted rode shotgun with Ben, and Brenda, Stephanie, Faye & I climbed into the carriage.  Jill, Lora and Sarah left to ride bicycles out to Arch Rock and we were off down the street just as though we were celebrities.  We went through town and up Cadotte Avenue to the Grand, but instead of going on by the east end, as we had done the day before, Ben drove in front to the West Bluff with its very impressive Victorian summer cottages, which are actually mansions from that time period.  Continuing on, he drove us through Hubbard’s Annex, which is more wooded and with homes that are more modest, but not much less impressive.  I had never been in the Annex before.

In the Grand Hotel Carriage riding through the Annex.  The Hackney Horses were beautiful.  Is it all right to say horses are beautiful?

In the Grand Hotel Carriage riding through the Annex. The Hackney Horses were beautiful. Is it all right to say horses are beautiful?

From there we went on through the woods to the cemeteries, where Ben turned left to go up to Fort Holmes.  As we arrived, those who were already there stopped looking at the gorgeous scenic views and turned their attention to the beautiful carriage and horses, with the elegantly dressed driver.  I hope Fort Holmes will be restored in the future.  There isn’t much left except the berm, which used to be covered with timbers, and the entryway to the fort.  Was it from the fort that we looked down on Sugar Loaf Rock?  I don’t remember, but I know we did it.

A good picture of our driver, Ben Mosley, and the Grand Hotel Hackney Horses.

A good picture of our driver, Ben Mosley, and the Grand Hotel Hackney Horses.

After about a half hour at Fort Holmes, we rode the short distance to Point Lookout, and it certainly is a lookout.  The views cannot be described.  I just know they were awesome.  Of course, that’s true all over the Island. (Note from Brenda:  Lowell, Sugar Loaf was viewed from Point Lookout.)

Then it was on to Arch Rock, where Jill, Lora and Sarah met us and Stephanie continued the interview.  Actually, the interview never really stopped during the whole carriage trip.  The metal viewing platform that was new in the 1950’s is still there and looks as strong as ever.  I showed the others where I thought the little Curio Shop had been located where I worked so long ago.  I’m sure I was about right.

At Arch Rock and looking at the area where the Arch Rock Curio Shop used to be when Lowell worked there.

At Arch Rock and looking at the area where the Arch Rock Curio Shop used to be when Lowell worked there.

After more pictures and a lot of talk, at least on my part, it was time to start the last leg of our wonderful carriage ride.  Jill, Lora and Sarah rode their bicycles, promising to meet us at the Grand Hotel.  On the way we went by the back of Fort Mackinac, the summer residence for Michigan’s governor and the Horton’s condo.  (It always seemed odd to me that for so many years there was no Governor’s mansion in Lansing, the capital city, but there was a summer residence on the Island.)

When we arrived at the front steps of the Grand Hotel, it was time to leave the carriage.  Thank you Ben, Brenda & Ted for one of the great treats of life for Faye and me.  By the way, Magic Jill was at the Grand to meet us and take pictures.

Then it was up the steps and into the hotel, where we, including Jill, had lunch and a very good lunch it was.  Of course, I guess my review of the lunch doesn’t mean much.  I once complimented Faye on something she had made. He answer was, “That’s no compliment. you’ll eat anything.”  Well, I do like to eat.

Stephanie and Jill when we had lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Stephanie and Jill when we had lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Inside the Grand Hotel.

Inside the Grand Hotel.

After lunch, Lora and Sarah, who had lunch in the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac, joined us and we went up to the Grand Hotel Cupola.  Once again, we could see the beautiful (I wish there were more synonyms for beautiful) views of the island, the water and Mackinac Bridge.  Then we went down to Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor and Lora treated all of us.  Thank you, Lora.  I don’t remember what the others had, but I had Raspberry and yes, it was very good.  I’ll give it a 10 for Brenda.

Sarah Elizabeth and Lora in the Grand Hotel Cupola.

Sarah Elizabeth and Lora in the Grand Hotel Cupola.

After the ice cream treat, Ted went to the condo to check on Bear and Maddie.  Jill, Lora and Sarah returned downtown on their bicycles and Brenda took Stephanie, Faye & me in an actual taxi back to the Chippewa.  If I remember correctly, that was when Stephanie left us to go to St. Ignace.  Brenda sent us to our room and she went home. (Note from Brenda:  Hmmmm.  I can’t seem to remember “sending Lowell and Faye to their rooms”, but if Lowell says I did, it must be true!)

Wednesday, June 5,2013

Once again we were up early.  We had our coffee, ate our breakfast and packed everything in preparation for going home.  About 8:30 we walked down Main Street to the Windermere Hotel where we had a nice visit with Margaret Doud.  As I’m sure most of you who read Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog will know, Margaret Doud has been the mayor of Mackinac Island for the past 31 years.  She and her mother, Jeannette, are the owners of the Windermere Hotel.  It was Jeannette’s mother, Ella Chambers, in whose house I lived during the summers of 1954, 55 & 56, and for whom I worked at the Arch Rock Curio Shop during the summers of 1955 & 56.

Mayor Margaret Doud and Lowell.

Mayor Margaret Doud and Lowell.

After our visit and having my picture taken with the mayor, we walked back to the hotel.  On the way we stopped in one of the fudge shops and bought three big slices of fudge.  Isn’t that what everyone does when they visit the Island?  If I remember correctly, Brenda, Ted and Jill were already in the lobby when we arrived.  We brought our luggage down and after checking out, arranging with Josh Carley to take it to Shepler’s Ferry Dock and having my picture taken with Josh and Archie Horn, all of us walked to the dock.  Because we were a little early, we waited on the street out of the wind,  While we were waiting, who should we see coming down the street but Brad Chambers.  Brad lives in the same house I lived in long before he was born.  Of course, it was Brenda who knew him and she introduced us.  That was nice to have a short visit with him.

Lowell with Archie Horn and Josh Carley, dock porters, as we were getting ready to leave the island.

Lowell with Archie Horn and Josh Carley, dock porters, as we were getting ready to leave the island.

When it was time to board the ferry, with our VIP tickets (can you imagine that?) we went to the head of the line and were able to sit in the back of the boat because the water was rather choppy.  Ted left us there, but Brenda and Jill went with us to Mackinaw City.  When we got there, they insisted that Faye & I wait in the warm tent while they took our luggage to the car and brought it to the front for us.  While we were waiting, I heard someone say that’s’ Capt. Shepler over there, so I went over to the ticket booth where he was to thank him and have a short visit with him.  We looked to where Brenda and Jill were and saw that they couldn’t get the trunk open.  (Now, this a secret between you and me.  All they needed to have done was press the little picture of a car with an open trunk that is on the remote, which they had on the key ring.)  Anyway, they decided to put everything in the back seat.  We saw it when Brenda drove up with the car.  At the time, I thought I would transfer everything to the trunk when we stopped later, but I didn’t do that.

After our good-byes , we left Mackinaw City and headed for Cheboygan, fifteen miles southeast along the Lake Huron shore.  On the way, we stopped at the roadside park on the lake where my picnic loving mother once took my brother, sister and me for a very early Good Friday picnic.  It was cold and there were ice floes in the lake, but it was fun.  I took a couple pictures and we continued to Cheboygan, where we drove by a few places that were familiar to me from my teenage years.  Then we drove a few miles south to visit a lady who was a neighbor back then and is now 100 years old.  I really shouldn’t say old because she looked and acted younger than I do.  We visited for about an hour and headed for home.

When we arrived home and were unloading the car, what did we find but another surprise underneath everything in the back seat.  Brenda & Ted had given us two more books, “Wish You Were Here, An Album of Vintage Mackinac Postcards” by Steven C. Brisson and “Above Mackinac” with pictures by Robert Cameron and text by Phil Porter, a book that I had admired at Ted & Brenda’s condo.

The first surprise may have been on Ted & Brenda, but the last surprise certainly was on Faye & me.

A Few Extra Photos

The Grand Hotel horses and omnibus - waiting in front of Shepler's Ferry dock.

The Grand Hotel horses and omnibus – waiting in front of Shepler’s Ferry dock.

Lowell having a cup of coffee as he's sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbor.

Lowell having a cup of coffee as he’s sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbor.

Our Jill.  She, along with Ted and Brenda, made our journey to the island exceptional!

Our Jill. She, along with Ted and Brenda, made our journey to the island exceptional!

Overlooking the city of Mackinac Island with the Straits of Mackinac lighthouses and a freighter in the distance - from Fort Mackinac.

From Fort Mackinac – Overlooking the city of Mackinac Island with the Straits of Mackinac lighthouses and a freighter in the distance.

The big white building is the side of the Chippewa where we sat on our balcony and watched the ferries come in.

The big white building is the Chippewa where we sat on our balcony and watched the ferries come in.

Lowell talking to Captain Bill Shepler, who owns Shepler's Ferry Line.

Lowell talking to Captain Bill Shepler, who owns Shepler’s Ferry Line.

Let me conclude by saying it was such a wonderful trip.  We could not have been treated better by anyone with whom we had any contact on Mackinac Island, especially Brenda & Ted Horton and Jill Sawatzki.  Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b), so I’m sure everyone who had anything to do with making our trip so memorable has been blessed because I know Faye & I sure were.  I just wish there was some way to thank Brenda for arranging “The Trip of A Lifetime” for Faye and me.

Brenda, you are a gem!  Southern charm, personified, right here in Michigan on our own Mackinac Island!  And yes, Charlie, she truly is amazing!

Note from Brenda:  Those of us who were in on the planning of Lowell & Faye’s trip to Mackinac are truly the ones who were blessed.  Seeing their delight on every street, at every corner, and with each new adventure shared was all the thanks any of us needed. 

Nice and Easy Does It 6/6/2013

Sleeping late is such a nice treat, and I don’t usually do that (contrary to what Ted occasionally tells folks).  After Lowell and Faye left Mackinaw City on Wednesday, Jill drove me across the Mackinac Bridge and dropped me off for a hair appointment in St. Ignace, then she boarded the ferry to return to the Island for work.

Grey roots covered and about an inch trimmed off, I returned to Mackinac also and was on-Island about 5 p.m.  Ted met me downtown, and we joined what looked like the entire Island population at the Community Center for a benefit spaghetti dinner for our Fire Chef Mike Bradley, who is battling cancer.  That huge room was filled to the brim with Mackinac folks who have known Mike since he was born, and with folks like us who have known him only a few years.  There was an out-pouring of pure Mackinac love in that room last night.

When we returned to the condo around 7:30, I began to worry that we hadn’t heard from Lowell; but a while later he left a message that they were home and fine.  He called this morning to fill us in on their trip home, which included stopping in Cheboygan, where they had lived for several years.  He and I both couldn’t believe their trip had come and gone so quickly.  It was quite a whirlwind – but one they will remember forever.

The article in the Town Crier should be out next Thursday (June 13), and I can hardly wait to read it.  I’ve promised Lowell I’ll mail them several copies as soon as it hits the stands.

After a very lazy morning, I met Jill and Sue Conlon half-way down the hill for lunch at the Jockey Club.  We opted to eat outside, which might have been a bit foolish because we never took off our coats.  The food was yummy though!

Our server came out with our lunch balanced on his head.  He sat down, while Jill dug in her purse for her camera, and waited patiently for her to focus and shoot.  If I'd done that, our lunch would have been upside down on the cement!

Our server came out with our lunch balanced on his head. He sat down, while Jill dug in her purse for her camera, and waited patiently for her to focus and shoot. If I’d done that, our lunch would have been upside down on the cement!

When lunch was over we walked up the West Bluff to check out the Lilacs, and yes - I believe they are going to be in full bloom for Lilac Festival, which begins June 7 and runs through the 16th.

When lunch was over we walked up the West Bluff to check out the Lilacs, and yes – I believe they are going to be in full bloom for Lilac Festival, which begins June 7 and runs through the 16th.

After running a few errands in town, I turned toward home.  Then I remembered Ted had gone to Cheboygan after groceries and he might be returning to the Island soon.  I called him, and sure enough, he was half-way across the Straits.  I walked back to the Shepler dock and instead of walking home, jumped on the taxi he'd already ordered because of the groceries.  I love when that happens!  Smile for your grandmother,

After running a few errands in town, I turned toward home. Then I remembered Ted had gone to Cheboygan after groceries, and he might be returning to the Island soon. I called him, and sure enough, he was half-way across the Straits. I walked back to the Shepler dock and instead of walking home, jumped on the taxi he’d already ordered because of the groceries. I love when that happens! Smile for your grandmother, Alyssa!

We passed

We passed a wagon loaded with flowers going somewhere up Cadotte.  It’s spring planting time on the Island – a little bit later than usual.

OUT-TAKES

Going through dozens and dozens of photos I snapped during the Lowell & Faye trip this afternoon, I came across several I didn’t use for one reason or another and decided to do an “Out-Takes” feature. 

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Man in elevator:  “Geez!  It’s that guy again!  Every time I’ve seen him this week he’s been getting his picture taken.  Is he a celebrity?  Should I know him?  Maybe I should ask to have MY picture taken with him! 

Lowell to Lora:

Lowell to Lora:  “The time I walked across Arch Rock, I came THIS CLOSE to falling off!” 

Ted to Stephanie, the reporter:  "You know, I have some good stories too.  Maybe you'd like to interview me when you're done with Lowell."

Ted to Stephanie, the reporter: “You know, I have some good stories too. Maybe you’d like to interview me when you’re done with Lowell.” 

"Faye, I'm thinking we could move our house in Olivett and put it right there on that empty lot!"

“Lowell, I’m thinking we could move our house in Olivet and put it right there on that empty lot!”

vvvv

“Stephanie, when we rowed across to Round Island in that little boat, a freighter came SO CLOSE I could have reached out and touched it.”

"Hold on, Faye!  This Mosley fella says he can drive horses, but he's taking these curves pretty fast if you ask me!"

“Hold on, Faye! This Mosley fella says he can drive horses, but he’s taking these curves pretty fast if you ask me!”

Hoping everyone has enjoyed this week with the Greene’s as much as Ted and I have.  With the Lilac Festival beginning tomorrow, there will be plenty going on to share next week.  For now, this is Brenda – signing off for the weekend!

God bless.

A Perfect Greene Day 6/4/2013

It does not get any better than today – it just doesn’t.  In fact, the day was so perfect, as I sit here trying to think of how to tell you about it, I’m still wearing the biggest smile ever.  Let me just say, dear readers, you did good with those prayers!

Lowell and Faye were already waiting in the lobby when I bounced in at 9:30 – a good 30 minutes before “the surprise”.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that another blog fan – Lora – is on the Island this week, staying at another hotel with her niece, Sarah.  She, Lowell, and Faye have been trying to get together for a few minutes since the Greene’s arrived, but every attempt had failed.  So this morning Lora and Sarah came down to the Chippewa to see everyone off on the Grand Hotel VIP carriage.

I snapped this shot of Lowell and Lora in front of the Chippewa's elevator door.

I snapped this shot of Lowell and Lora in front of the Chippewa’s elevator door.

Soon our reporter from The St. Ignace News/Town Crier arrived - Stephanie Fortino.  She went along with our little "fib" about ordering a taxi to take us to Arch Rock for her interview with Lowell.

Soon our reporter from The St. Ignace News/Town Crier arrived – Stephanie Fortino. She went along with our little “fib” about ordering a taxi to take us to Arch Rock for her interview with Lowell.

Ben told me he would pull the carriage up in front of the Visitor’s Center and wait for a signal to pull down in front of the Chippewa.  When Ted saw him go by, he and Jill walked down and said we were all in the lobby.  As soon as Ben started moving, we told Faye and Lowell their “taxi” was outside.  Oh my gosh, I wish you could have seen their faces!

ggggg

We all climbed on, including Ted, who got to ride up top with Ben.  I honestly think Faye and Lowell were speechless for a few moments.

Off we went through downtown.  Now, when a vintage vi

Off we went through downtown. Now, when a vintage Grand Hotel vis-à-vis carriage, pulled by two majestic Hackney horses (named Jester and Joker) start high-stepping through the streets, it stops traffic, bikers, and pedestrians!

We drove up Cadotte and turned in front of the Grand Hotel.  Faye and Lowell finally just shook their heads in wonder and started laughing.

We drove up Cadotte and turned in front of the Grand Hotel. Faye and Lowell finally just shook their heads in wonder and started laughing.  It was great!

We traveled up the West Bluff in front of the summer cottages, with Lowell talking to Stephanie and Ben occasionally giving some history of what we were seeing.

We traveled up the West Bluff in front of the summer cottages, with Lowell talking to Stephanie and Ben occasionally giving some history on what we were seeing.  Stephanie, bless her heart, had a hard time writing while riding in the carriage, so she finally pulled out her recorder.

As we road through the Annex, which Lowell had never seen, he entertained us with stories from his years on Mackinac Island in the 1950, when he was a teenager.

As we road through the Annex, which Lowell had never seen, he entertained us with stories from his teenage years on Mackinac Island in the 1950’s.

We stopped in a shady spot for photos . . .

We stopped in a shady spot for a photo . . .

. . . then Ted climbed back up in the driver's seat.  They sure did chatter a lot up there, and I tried to listen to Lowell with one ear and their conversation with another.  I think they occasionally veered off the subject of island history.

. . . then Ted climbed back up in the driver’s seat he was sharing with Ben. They sure did chatter a lot up there, and I tried to listen to Lowell with one ear and their conversation with another. (To be honest, I think they occasionally veered off the subject of island history.)

We turned up the hill next to the cemetery and headed for Ft. Holmes.

We turned up the hill next to the cemetery and headed for Ft. Holmes . . .

. . . where we made our first official stop.

. . . where we made our first official stop.  There were several people at Ft. Holmes already, and with the arrival of the Grand carriage, they all immediately stopped looking at the view and wanted photos of Ben and the horses.

They ARE gorgeous - the horses, I mean :).

They are very photogenic.

Lowell said Ft. Holmes had changed quite a bit since he had visited there.  Where grass creates the walls of the fort now, there once were timbers.

Lowell said Ft. Holmes had changed quite a bit since he visited there. Where grass creates the walls surrounding these gates now, there once were timbers.

fff

Lowell and Faye at Ft. Holmes.

The interview really never stopped.  With each new spot, Stephanie would ask more questions, and Lowell told more stories.

The interview really never stopped. With each new spot, Stephanie would ask more questions, and Lowell would tell more stories.

Lowell and Faye at Lookout Point.

Lowell and Faye at Lookout Point.

While Lowell was being interviewed, Ted was entertaining Faye and Ben.

While Lowell was being interviewed, Ted was entertaining Faye.

Our last stop before the end of the tour was Arch Rock, where Lowell worked so many years ago.

Our last stop before the end of the tour was Arch Rock, where Lowell worked so many years ago.  Lora and Sarah rode their bikes out there to meet us.

Lowell showed Stephanie where the Curio Shop was at Arch Rock . . .

Lowell showed Stephanie where the Curio Shop was at Arch Rock . . .

. . . and the reporter gets a photograph of Lowell and Faye.

. . . and the reporter got a photograph of Lowell and Faye.

Jill also met us at Arch Rock and snapped this one or Ted and I.

Jill also met us at Arch Rock and snapped this one of Ted and I with Ben.

From Arch Rock, we headed back to the Grand . . .

From Arch Rock, we headed back to the Grand . . .

From Arch Rock we headed back to the Grand - but we weren't faster than Jill on her bike.  She had time to park the bike and get up on the porch and shoot this photo of us pulling into the Grand driveway. I'm telling you - she is the energizer bunny!

. . . but we weren’t faster than Jill on her bike. She had time to park the bike, get up on the porch, and shoot this photo of us pulling into the Grand driveway. I’m telling you – she is the energizer bunny!

We all thanked Ben for a fabulous tour!

We all thanked Ben for a fabulous tour . . .

. . . then went inside for a wonderful lunch at the Grand.

. . . then went inside for a wonderful lunch at the Grand.

Since Lowell, Faye, and Stephanie had never been to the Grand cupola, we took the elevator to within one floor of the top, then took the stairs the rest of the way.  Lowell said the view was worth every step.

Since Lowell, Faye, and Stephanie had never been to the Grand cupola, we took the elevator to within one floor of the top, then took the stairs the rest of the way. Lowell said the view was worth every step. 

I love this photo.

I love this photo.

dddddd

Our last stop was Sadie’s for ice cream.  By the way, flavor #3 was Triple Peanut Butter Cup, and on a scale from 1 to 10, I give it a 10.  Tasted like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – with chocolate chips.

Again, it was just a perfect day.  Even the weather cooperated – sunny blue skies, no wind, and low 60’s.  We grabbed a taxi downtown and were dropped at the Chippewa, where we collapsed on a sofa in the lobby and talked about Wednesday.  It is so hard to believe their days here have flown by this quickly!

I’ll be meeting them at the Chippewa Wednesday morning in time to get down to Shepler’s for the 11 o’clock ferry.  But that’s a story for tomorrow.

A huge thank you to the Musser Family, Grand Hotel, Jennifer King and Ben Mosley for inviting the Greene’s to experience this special day on the Grand carriage.  Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Have I mentioned it was a perfect day . . .

The Mellower Season 9/18/2012

We have a Mystery Spot winner!  She is Mariann Arendsen from Zeeland, MI!  Please see end of this post for the correct answer!

Autumn is the mellower season . . . .  Samuel Butler

When the noon siren blew today, I glanced at the thermometer, and it read 48 degrees.  It finally inched its way into the low 50’s this afternoon, and the rest of the week calls for more of the same.  We haven’t seen our first 30-something morning yet, but I have a feeling it could be soon.  So – I have plans to spend one morning or one afternoon this week pulling out sweaters, sweat shirts, rain gear, overcoats, gloves, neck wraps, and earmuffs and packing away sleeveless blouses, flip-flops and shorts.  That’s another thing we’ve learned about the U.P.  When Fall walks in the door, it doesn’t change its mind and walk back out a few days later  It is here to stay – so get prepared!

Ted took the dogs for a good, long walk up to Lookout Point and Ft. Holmes Monday and while he was there, grabbed some photos from as high up on the Island as you can go.

From the Lookout, it’s easy to see that the hardwood trees are just on the verge of turning gold. Did you spot the private tour carriage at the base of Sugar Loaf?

Here’s a closer view!

Bear enjoyed the wind at the top of the Island – Ft. Holmes.

What a view!  We’ll try to walk back up there in a week or so to check out how things have changed with the trees.

Downtown there are images of Fall everywhere – like those two baskets of bright yellow mums sitting on the fence posts at the Windermere Hotel.

It’s been normal over the last week to see rain out over the Straits . . .

. . . dark clouds over the Grand Hotel . . .

. . . and on Monday – while I was working at the Stuart House – rain!

Fall continues to bring Bree’s Blog readers to the Island, and several stopped by on Monday – like Jeff and Jacob from Garden City, MI (we had to stand inside because of the rain) . . .

. . . Mary, daughter Rory, and Goldendoodle McNally (husband and dad David took the photo) from Houston, TX . . .

. . . and Joyce, Al and Muriel from Indiana. This family loves to Geo-Cache . . .

. . . and next summer, good Lord willing, maybe we’ll do a blog story about their adventures while they’re here on one of their “expeditions”!

Thanks also to Cathy Cislak from Indianapolis (didn’t get a photo, darn it) who dropped by to leave some doggie treats for Bear and Maddie, which they wanted me to thank you for, Cathy!  Bear said, “Could she come to the Island more often, please!”

Reader Photos

Rebecca Bruner photographed the Round Island Lighthouse on August 9, 2012, near the spot where her wedding was held on August 12 at Windermere Point.

Jennifer Gilbert.  Jennifer was here in June working on an article about families visiting Mackinac Island for www.southshoreparent.com. She stayed at the Island House Hotel and loved this window (and the view) from the sitting room inside the hotel.

Craig Wicks – Roanoke, Virginia. This photo is from Criag’s visit in 2001 and shows the Shepler Ferry dock at sunrise.

Fran from Florida. Fran visited the Island with her two boys, and this photo shows one of them, at the garden on French Lane, trying to find all the Seek & Find items.

Neil Heineka – Benson, Illinois. Neil and his wife Erica have been coming to the Island for 10 years, beginning shortly after their marriage. They hope one day to summer here. Now they bring their two daughters and stay at Stone Cliffe, where the girls can play on the wide lawn, and they enjoy music on the portico and the marvelous views.

Lori Henes. Lori and her husband planned a vow renewal ceremony for Labor Day weekend – just the two of them. But her husband had other ideas. He contacted all their children and her mom and dad. On Sunday, the day of their vow renewal, the family surprised Lori and attended the service. This photo is Lori’s of the Grand Hotel flowers.

Mystery Spot

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   . . . .

Something a little different – not WHERE is it, but WHAT 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.

That’s all for tonight.  I’ll see you back here on Thursday night or Friday morning!  Stay warm!

MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

The Mystery Spot is the lantern on a Grand Hotel carriage. So many readers guessed correctly that it was a “lantern on a carriage”, but I needed to know “which” carriage.

Only One More Friday . . . . . 10/21/2011

C   R   A   Z   Y  !  !  !

Strong winds and rain greeted me when the alarm clock buzzed this morning at 5:45, and gale warnings were up until late Thursday afternoon.  I dressed with more layers than I’ve worn on the Island since I returned one February for Winter Festival.  TWO sets of Cuddl Duds (top and bottom), a turtle neck sweater, another pullover and over all that – rain gear (jacket with hood and rain pants).  The only things not protected from the rain were my feet and hands, which was a big mistake.  I wore heavy socks and leather boots, and by the time I’d been working an hour, my socks were squishy wet, and my toes were frozen.  Reminder to self:  Add plain black rubber boots to my Christmas list (I just couldn’t bring myself to don my black and white polka dot rain boots to go work – not a very professional look.  Silly me.  After an hour of being splashed by the river running through the entrance gate and then stepping down into that river to talk to hundreds of ladies going to the island, I would have given anything for dry, warm toes. But everyone survived, and Shepler’s did a fantastic job.  Those were some tired employees at the end of the day, and they didn’t get off at 1 p.m. like I did to go home and nap for three hours.

Jill lives downtown and is an EARLY riser, so she's met me at Martha's Sweet Shop the last two mornings. This is how dark it still was at 7:20 today as I was getting off the taxi.

Inside with owner Loretta Spata, it was bright and warm and filled with the yummy aromas of fresh-baked pastries and hot coffee. This made three mornings of delicious pumpkin and walnut muffins that I couldn't get enough of. By the way, that's just ONE cinnamon roll on Jill's plate - they are huge!

The ride over this morning to Mackinaw City. Visibility was zero through the spray on the windows. The wind was out of the NNE which, according to Captain Billy, was a very good thing. Those who were on duty this past weekend said it was twice as bad Saturday because the wind was from a different direction.

The final group of 1,000 Winsome Women crossed to the Island this morning. As soon as they could be parked, ladies moved into that big blue and white building which houses the ticket office. This building is also dry and heated and has a coffee bar. Talk about a booming business!

Crossing back to the island at 12:30, the wind had shifted to straight out of the north - a bumpier ride.

Much bumpier!

By 2:00 I was home, sitting with my feet up in my recliner (toes all dry and cozy in wool socks) and covered in a blanket.  Three minutes later I was sound asleep and didn’t wake up until almost five.  No matter how wet and wild these three days have been, it’s always fun to volunteer at Shepler’s.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Having worked three days, and with the weather like it’s been, there have been few chances to get out for pics.  So tonight, I’m going to post some photos from Ted and from friends who have given me permission to use their work.  On Monday, while I was working and before the weather got so bad, Ted took Maddie and Bear on a two-hour walk.  I’m so sorry I missed going with them, but Ted got some really nice shots!  Enjoy!

TED’S PHOTOS

Looking up the hill in front of the fort to the area where Anne's Tablet is located.

Downtown on a lazy October day.

All the annuals have been pulled up from the Grand Hotel flower beds, and these gardeners were busy planting the tulip bulbs for next Spring. I always try to guess the pattern and the colors - but it's always a secret.

Hmmmm . . . now there's a mountain of dirt behind the Carriage Museum. Wonder what that's for???

Fall colors at Turtle Park.

The road beside the cemetery leading up to Lookout Point. As you can see, the winds of the last week have really taken a toll on our leaves.

Bear - checking out a pile of leaves for anything worth wolfing down.

Sugar Loaf from Lookout Point.

Lookout Point. Looks lonely up there now.

Approaching the embankment that surrounds the site of Ft. Holmes.

Inside the earthen walls of Ft. Holmes.

The bridge from the top of the Island.

Taken from the top of the Ft. Holmes embankment.

Looking straight down Rifle Range Trail from Fort Holmes, with Fort Mackinac in the distance.

Walking back home on one of numerous gravel trails . . . .

. . . and this one came out on Garrison Road, where they turned and walked toward the Post Cemetery. The flag there could be seen from the bottom of the hill - permanently flown at half-staff.

After a week of wind and rain, we always look for God’s promised rainbow.

Paul Retherford is a wonderful photographer and is on the island often for weddings. On this particular trip, he captured a rainbow over the harbor.

Friend Chris Ann Nelson's photograph from her beach in Mackinaw City - a rainbow over the bridge.

Patrick Conlon, the dock master at Shepler's, took this amazing shot of the first boat out on Monday morning, before the bad weather moved in that afternoon.

Next week will begin the countdown – less than a week to go.  The days are piling up on top of each other now, and the reality has set in.  I’m going to try and get a lot of packing done this weekend so I can at least get a few posts written next week before we go.

See you Monday, have a great weekend, and God bless.

Getting Back to the Magic 8/12/2011

We have a winner on the Mystery Spot!  It is Irene Cowley from Inglewood, California!  Please see end of blog post for the Mystery Spot answer!

On Wednesday evening Ted and I attended the Mackinac Associates Annual Meeting.  After a box dinner under a tent on the fort grounds, close to 85 Associates boarded two-horse hitch carriages for a tour of Mackinac Island’s unique geological features.  Mackinac State Historic Parks Naturalist Jeff Dykehouse was aboard to present the scientific explanation for these features, and Native American interpreter Deleta Smith was along to discuss the native legend of the landmarks.

Of course I brought my camera, and I even brought a tiny notebook and a pen.  I took notes.  And I wish I could repeat all the facts Jeff gave us (they were amazing), and tell you the wonderful stories related by Deleta (they were fascinating).  But the truth is, although I took notes, I found myself only half listening to these gifted park employees and instead being caught up in where I was.

I’ve found myself lately asking if I am beginning to lose some of my wonder for this island.  I write about it almost everyday, and just as all of us start to take for granted that which we have near us for a period of time, I’ve found myself taking for granted the beauty of this mystical place I fell so in love with eleven years ago.  I do the same thing in Georgia.

There, I get up every morning and have my coffee on a sunporch overlooking Lake Blackshear. When I say “overlooking”, I almost mean that literally, as the water is only 30-40 yards from our back door.  We watch eagles and egrets and hawks fly by everyday.  We have our very own otter who swims by each morning and climbs into our boat house to feast on fresh-caught brim or catfish (what he leaves in the boat house is another story).  Mom and dad mallards hatch their babies and teach them eventually to jump over our seawall (and later to fly over our fence) so they can feed on the seed that falls from the big birdfeeder hanging from our crabapple tree.  And the birds!  Finches, cardinals, blue jays, robins, sparrows, wrens, brown thrashers (our Georgia state bird and the biggest mess-maker in bird-dom), and an occasional bluebird and cedar waxwing – we have all these and many more.  We see all this every day, and sad to say, most of the time we take it for granted. 

And then someone visits.  They sit on the porch that first morning with eyes sparkling, seeing nature awaken, watching and listening to the waves lapping on the seawall, seeing and hearing all the things we see and hear.  And once again, we see it for the first time – through their eyes.

Wednesday night that happened to me again – but instead of seeing it all through someone else’s eyes, it was as though I was given that entire tour to open my own eyes once again to the island’s magic.

When a visitor learns I live on the island half the year and asks what drew me here, my standard answer is “the weather”.  That’s easy to understand.  Explain that the summers here are a good 20 degrees cooler than Georgia, and most folks get it.  But if they probe further, and if they really seem interested, they will get the long story.  And what I tell them is this . . .

To understand the magic, you have to go into the woods. You have to walk the trails. You have to stand - all alone - on a path covered with pinestraw and leaves - and just be still and listen. If you're close enough to a road, you may hear horses as they pass by - and that's part of the magic. But so is the silence, and if you are far enough into the woods, that is what you hear. Nothing. Just you and woods. Where you stand was once covered in glacier ice, and at the end of the Ice Age - only 12,000 years ago - most of Mackinac Island was covered in water. At that time, this piece of rock was only 1/4 mile long and 1/2 mile wide.

If you climb to the island's highest point, Ft. Holmes, and stand on top of the grass and dirt wall there, you will see another part of the magic. The water is a shade of blue I can't name, and the sky is even bluer. I could sit on that wall for hours - watching the clouds, watching the planes leave and return, watching the boats ply their way through the Straits. If you happen to be alone up there, there's no sound except for the drone of a random plane. You're too high to hear what's happening in town or on the water - but you can see it - and it's magical.

Wednesday night - even though I wasn't alone - I fell in love with my island again. Riding through the woods - at one point so dense I thought we'd be in the dark by our arrival back at the fort . . .

. . . then topping a hill back into the last sunrays of the day, I could close my ears to the chatter around me and just inhale the smell of soil and wild things growing - just as they've been growing for centuries.

I'd be hard-pressed to choose which I love most - the woods or the water. But there's really no reason to choose. The island wouldn't be magical for me without them both.

Forgive my rambling today.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the splendor of the island (the cottages, the flowers, the carriages) that I don’t focus enough on the wonder of it.  In the weeks we have left here this season, I hope to give you both – through my eyes and from my heart.
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NOTE: I’m going to take the weekend off from writing, so I’ll see you right back here on Monday with news and pics.  Have a wonderful weekend!
__________________________________________________________________________
THE MYSTERY SPOT
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, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. 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?
Don’t forget to email your answer to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.comPlease do not answer in the comment section.
MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

This image of a Native American appears on four sides of the Round Island Passage Light.

. . . ’til Next Year 6/18/2010

Cathie and Charlie are leaving this morning (Friday), traveling back to New Orleans after a 10-day visit.  It’s always so much fun having them here, and we can’t believe it’s already time for them to return home.  Cathie is the ultimate Mackinac Island houseguest – she loves everything about the island, is willing to do anything that is suggested, and enjoys herself to the max – whatever she is doing.  Charlie, because of some pesky physical challenges, has some activity limitations, but he is always so gracious and kind, and his sense of humor keeps us laughing the entire visit.  Seeing them enjoy themselves makes both Ted and I so happy.

Since we’re just getting in from having dinner on their last evening, I’m just going to post some random photographs from their visit, so I can get some last minute time in with them.  Enjoy!

Charlie rented an electric scooter one afternoon, and the four of us decided to see if Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes were within the scooter's reach.

It was a beautiful day for a little stroll to the top of the island.

Lunch at the Tearoom at Fort Mackinac is always a special treat. The view is awesome!

Twin Shepler ferries leave the island - one going to Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula, and one heading for St. Ignace in the U.P.

The scooter did just great getting Charlie to the fort, but the big challenge was getting up that last hill to Fort Holmes.

Just before Fort Holmes is Lookout Point. Looking down from this fence, you have a great view of Sugar Loaf.

Charlie - at the top of the island!

Bear and Maddie - looking down over the Straits from the earthern wall around Fort Holmes.

While the four of us were eating dinner one night at Mary's Bistro, "Casper" got off one of the ferries. Wish I could tell you why the friendly little ghost was on the island, but I haven't a clue.

Author Kris Radish was on the island for a luncheon in her honor last week. Cathie and I didn't make the luncheon, but we stopped by the Island Bookstore to meet her later that afternoon. Her latest book is "Hearts on a String".

Line dancers practicing their "Boot Scootin'" on Market Street, as one of the Lilac Festival activities.

Trying to dry Bear off one morning after a walk in the rain with Ted. Charlie's on the couch reading one of the three books he finished while they were here.

Cathie and the little Maddie-girl . . .

. . . and with the Bearster.

Dinner at the Iroquois . . .

. . . Quick! Name one other place where, while you're dining, a freighter passes outside the restaurant window.

Tonight at the Jockey Club.

Man, we hate to see you two leave, and we’re already looking forward to next year!   We love ya’ll!

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Jill and I watched 4-year-old Siena today while her mom and dad, Mike and Jeanine, took in the sights from the top of the south tower of the Mackinac Bridge.  They had a blast, and so did we!

While Siena, Jill, and I played . . .

 

 
 

. . . Mike and Jeanine were on top of the Mackinac Bridge!

For a short video of Mike and Jeanine’s trip to the top of the bridge, click here:  http://www.mackinacislandblog.com/video/video/show?id=2322123%3AVideo%3A6399, and for more pictures of their bridge tour, visit Mike’s blog http://www.mackinacislandblog.com.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful week and is planning a fun weekend – or a restful one if that is what you’re hankering for!  See you here Saturday and Sunday morning with a few pics, then back on Monday morning for a full-length blog, good Lord willing.  God bless.