Personal Note: I loved reading back over this blog, first published October 31, 2009. Some of the businesses listed in this post are no longer open, and restaurants open all winter have changed since 2009. So please remember, if you’re planning a winter trip to Mackinac THIS (2017-18) winter, you need to check what’s open and what’s not!
Header Photo by Jill Sawatzki.
The Islanders Get Their Home Back
In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island. Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’. We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again. I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”
Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 500) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski.
Yes, there are a few businesses still open. The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup. The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store. The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!). The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub. St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.
I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring. One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint. The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks. Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.
It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m. Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night. About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again. There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance. We didn’t. So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill. We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere. Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!
We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy. We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away. That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok. So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather.
Time to go to bed. We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean. Sunday we leave. Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season. I can’t believe that day is finally here. I just can’t believe it.