Day Ten: Storybook Mornings and Carefree Fluttering
Day 10 was bittersweet as we concluded our stay at Mackinac Island and started out on our last full day of our road trip.
Waking up on Mackinac Island is waking up inside the red and gold-embossed storybook on the bedside table at grandma’s house.
When: Monday, Aug. 22
Where: Mackinaw Island, Mich. to Elyria, Ohio
Miles Traveled: 551
Best Thing We Ate: More Mackinac Island Fudge Ice cream
Song of the Day: Pretty World Today - Nancy Sinatra
The morning Reveille trickled out of a single trumpet in the distance, climbing up the vines and though the cream shutters on my single-paned window. Before long several other wind instruments had joined in with the Star Spangled Banner, and the streets started to blossom with people of morning, each with a smile and a cup of coffee. The flower markets wheeled out their fresh treats, and the fudge shops opened their doors to the already lengthy lines that had formed out front.
The island certainly must be the only corner of the map that still smells of lush moss, fresh water, and horses.
Though tempted to stay curled up in the warm windowsill all day, sipping tea and people watching in the comfort of my nightdress, I reminded myself that every second counts when you are on Mackinac Island.
Once we’d mustered the motivation to leave the Inn, Mom and I hopped on a carriage tour, pulled by John and Brock, a dappled pair of Percheron. They smelled like warm leather and alfalfa, reminding me of home and making me love them all the more for it. Last time I’d been to the island, I’d been working, for the most part, so it was fun to get to really explore.
My favorite story from the carriage tour was about the Island’s most lavish attraction, The Grand Hotel. Tourists have been flocking to Mackinac Island since as early as 1813, but places to stay were limited. In solution to the problem, Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company commissioned a builder by the name of Charles Caskey to create the Grand Hotel.
“If you can build the hotel in less than 90 days,” the head for Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company told the builder, “I’ll throw in a million dollar bonus.”
Caskey quickly hired a team of 300 men, most of which worked 48 hour shifts, who managed to construct the 200-room hotel in a mere 87 days. That’s when they found out Caskey wasn't planning on sharing a cent of his bonus with them.
So they tore down the North wall.
Long story short, it took 93 days to complete the hotel and Caskey didn’t get his million dollars.
Our last taste of Mackinac Island was the butterfly observatory.
I sat on a smooth white bench toward the back. The air in the room tasted like honey. Tiny velvet wings of every shade, sporting stripes, dots, and zig-zag patterns fluttered about.
Their carefree meandering brought to mind the many butterflies I’d stuffed into jars as a little girl.
I lived in the high desert, surrounded by tumbleweeds, lava rock, and sand. So naturally, when something, well, not brown, ended up in the yard, I was on it like a moth to a lightbulb.
I couldn’t help myself. They were so beautiful, so rich with color, I just didn’t want them to go anywhere.
When I came to Mackinac Island for the first time, I was a teenage girl with a fluttering brain full of dreams, a mind like lilac wings contrasted by black lace dots. And of course there had been a boy back home. A sweet boy drawn to the colors, but with a pin in his hand.
I’d found out what it was like to be admired, but I also found out how airless the inside of the jar feels. Watching the butterflies on the island three years ago, I had realized that dreams can be exotic blue stripes, and passion, bold yellow flecks — admirable when at rest, but only truly beautiful when in motion.
I quit catching butterflies after that. The light can’t refract off idle blue wings. It can’t project the patterns though their papery extremities with a cork board backdrop.
The same is true of people that you love.
When we boarded the ferry that afternoon, (I may or may not have had another ice cream cone in hand) I waved goodbye to the land of bicycles and ice cream smiles and thought about how much I’d learned from Mackinac Island.
I’d learned to swim in the freedom of staying true to who I’ve been designed to be, and I’d also learned how to flutter, free from pins and cork boards and anything else that can obstruct the projection of lavender lace.