Changes in Season

There are always a lot of moving parts happening in March, whether we notice it or not. Changes in weather, additions to staff, stores quietly getting ready for the season, snowmobiles being stored away, snowmobiles braving the lack of snow on roads… the first time I left the island this month was in the first week. I left for only two days, and went by boat.

At that time, the boat was running, and we were traveling the regular route to St. Ignace. Great! By the time I was ready to drive back up north, ice had floated back into the dock at St. Ignace and the boat couldn’t break free. So, back by plane I went…

In the picture above you can see how clear the water is around the island. It was a beautiful day for a plane ride, and it turned out to be a pretty nice day for a walk back down to my house, as well.

As the week progressed, more and more snow started to melt on the roads. It made snowmobile travel much more difficult downtown, but there was still enough for people to get by driving. As someone who lives close to downtown, I walk most everywhere, so it hasn’t affected me too much this year. The city does a great job of keeping our sidewalks clear and safe.

One dicey spot where the melted snow likes to create a little lake.
Melting, but still driveable
A beautiful view of the water and ice off the docks

The last time I was off the island was last week, headed to Petoskey to bring my mom back with me. No issues with breaking through the ice in the lake this time, but there was also another issue… by that Friday, schools had officially decided to close down for the next 3 weeks. By time I had gotten back to the island Monday, it had finally settled in with me that I wouldn’t have anything to do for awhile. My mom and I also missed out on getting any toilet paper or cleaning wipes. More than just seasons on the island was changing.

The ice had moved again on our boat ride back, too compacted to go the normal route, so we traveled around the North side of the island where you can see Arch Rock. It’s a longer trip, but the view is still great. I think I was more fascinated by the buttery smooth waves, followed by larges patches of ice.

Right now, the roads are pretty clear. We’ve had quite a few sunny days, and it’s still the same, quiet Mackinac Island that I’m accustomed to this time of year. I just don’t go out very much. Or, at all. Except to get groceries at Doud’s.

Our two restaurants are now closed to the public, but they do offer take out, as well as offer delivery service to our older residents. Doud’s is open as well, and has offered delivery service to all residents. And we are all sticking to social distancing requirements as much as any other place in Michigan.

As far as activities to keep myself busy during this social distancing phase, I’ve been cleaning at home a lot, practicing ukulele and guitar a lot more, taking more photos, bird watching, drawing a little, and spending way too much time on my phone. I’m lucky, however, to have a camera lens that zooms close enough to clearer see birds high up… I’m hoping to catch an owl or eagle one of these days in my back yard again, or possibly on my next walk on the boardwalk.

Until next time, I’ll be hunkered down at home. I hope everyone out there is staying safe, and wishing everyone a little comfort from my home to yours.

Heather


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The February Frost

February never seems to disappoint as a month for winter weather.

You never know when the lake will decide to cut you off from the mainland. Well, I suppose you can have a good guess about it if you checked the weather and followed up on ice conditions enough… but for the average person like myself who sticks with a weather app and a peek out the window every morning for what’s going on outside, it’s hard to tell. One day the boats are running all day, the next they’ve cancelled one and the rest are running, the next they’re back to the normal schedule, the next they aren’t running at all… then we get high winds and the ice breaks up enough to run again. That’s the scenario I’m hoping for at the moment, enough winds to blow all the ice out of all the bays and let the Mighty Huron right through. For the time being this though, we’re limited to plane service.

I’m not one to leave the island very often, so when the winter season starts, I’m happily content on staying put for as long as possible. Last year I didn’t leave the island until the end of March. This year, I left the island for a weekend in February to pick up groceries and help organize my mom’s house, then headed back home the following Monday… three days later, the boats stopped running.

Looking Over the Edge
Looking Over the Edge

Even with the more frigid temps, I’m enjoying more time outdoors. The views are especially more beautiful when there’s a light layer of snow on the trees, and I’m reminded of the snowglobe-like quality of the island. It’s as though someone just shook us and after a few minutes of swirling inside the globe, the snow has finally settled.

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Schoolyard Sunset
School yard Sunset

If there’s any time of year I find ideal for self reflection, it’s now. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that I want to accomplish for this year and I’ve realized that most of what I’m doing doesn’t fit what I want. So I’m making a conscious effort to stand up for myself, choose projects I believe in and be unapologetic for my decisions. I’m making small adjustments towards happiness. 

If any of you might recall, over a year and a half ago I had asked for your help with a deeply personal project. I’d like to share some progress with you on how it’s going, and although it is far from finished, I’m still proud of what I’ve done so far. I’ve grown rather fond of painting on wood panels in the process, and now plan to paint on more of the same in the very near future.

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Let me leave you with a few final pictures of the ice buildup near the boardwalk:

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Until next time,

Heather

A Mackinac Winter

Out of all the wintery days that we’ve had in this new year, none have seemed more like winter than last Friday. Just a brushing of light snowfall, so constant and unwavering that it gently coats the tree branches and winter foliage just enough to cause a whiteout all around you. When it snows, air is trapped between the snowflakes, attenuating vibration, and absorbing sound. That’s why it seems so much more quiet when it snows. 

I always think of this when I’m walking to work in a light snowfall; just a calm moment before the everyday noise and jumbling of work begins is what I consider an ideal way to start the day. Better than a hot cup of coffee. And then on other days, when work is over, that is, a little noise is a welcome addition to the day. That’s when the revving of snowmobiles around town seem more exciting than normal. 

I haven’t had the opportunity to find myself on a snowmobile ride in recent years, but when you’ve got an adventurous driver, you know you’re in for a good drive. Most drivers are friendly as well… I will often times find myself walking up the big hill past the Grand Hotel and someone will stop to offer me a ride. Now that the island’s roads are full of snow (compared to the first week of the New Year when the snow had disappeared), snowmobiles are much more frequent around town. There’s also plenty of opportunities to travel by fat tire bike, cross country skis, or snowshoes, but at the end of the day, I will always be in favor of a walk. Anyway, if anyone reading out there happens to be located in a place with snow right now, and you have the good fortune of walking (or driving) on snow-covered trails, I highly recommend it. It’s a delightful way to start out the new year.

-Heather