Getting Away and Settling In



The older I get, the more nervous I get about driving.

The longer I live here on Beaver Island, the more I am intimidated by traffic and speed.

It’s not road conditions.

We, here in northern Michigan, are well aware of ice and snow.

I have driven to work before the plow truck came through, making the first tracks through deep snow.

I have made it home on roads slick with ice.

I’ve had my share of scary sliding, fish-tailing and spinning events that make my heart pound and my hands shake.

The differences are this:

  1. On Beaver Island, I rarely contend with other vehicles. My car, for most of my trip, is the only one on the road.
  2. I can pick my speed, based on the conditions. If worn out tires and slippery roads dictate a speed of 15 miles per hour, I can pretty much guarantee there won’t be an angry four-wheel-drive pick-up driver tearing up from behind and zipping around me.
  3. If an accident happens, it is usually car-to-snowbank, car-to-ditch or car-to-tree…not car-to-madly-careening-down-the-icy-freeway-sideways-semi-truck.

I drove down-state this last weekend, for a Christmas party and a pre-Christmas visit with family and friends.

I watched the weather predictions closely, and with trepidation. It was a fickle forecast, changing almost daily from “not bad” to the terror inducing “winter storm watch.” By the time my departure day on Friday came around, it looked like the most I’d have to contend with was a little “lake-effect” snow around the Kalkaska area.

That held true, and my drive down was an easy trip.

In Ionia, I met my daughter, Jen, and my grandson, Patrick, for dinner and presents, conversation and games.

The next day, Jen took the wheel. We brought Patrick to his Dad’s house, then headed for Saugatuck.

More talk and laughter, more family and friends and the thirty-fourth annual Pine & Pasta Party.

The party had its start when my friend Bob, newly divorced, decided that decorating for Christmas would be more fun with a few friends. It has evolved over the years into a much anticipated holiday tradition. Bob makes a big pot of his famously good spaghetti sauce and cooks up pasta to go with it. Guests bring breads and salads and munchies. Bob and his brother Gary – AKA “The Bare-Chested Christmas Tree Wrestlers” – bring in the tree, set it up and string the lights. Some visitors add the ornaments while others advise and dictate placement from the comfort of the sofa. Many of the decorations were contributed by guests over the years and reflect the times past. One of my favorites is a garland of hand-sewn silver alewives, presented in the year our beaches were smelly with that fish. Drawings are held, and gifts distributed. My sister, Brenda, was the proud winner of a box of miniature hotel soaps from all over the country…collected by Bob in his travels with the Red Cross. Others were lucky enough to receive prizes retrieved from cereal boxes or earned with box tops or coupons. Every guest was given a commemorative ornament, inscribed by Bob with the event and year. I don’t make it to his party every year, but have a nice collection of ornaments reminding me of when I attended. It was a great group this year, and I’m glad I was there.

Sunday morning, up early and on the road.

First east, to pick up Patrick and bring him and Jen home. After that, I was on my own.

North, to Charlevoix, where I’d get on the small plane that would take me back to the island.

The roads were clear and the trip was without complications. I had allowed enough time so that when I came into wet, snowy conditions less than a hundred miles from my destination, I was able to slow down without worrying about missing my flight.

I arrived early at the airport, and – with inclement weather threatening – my flight left shortly after.

A smooth flight and a perfect landing on the island, then retrieve the car and load my bags, a quick visit with my aunt, to the boarders to pick up my dogs…then home!

It has hardly stopped snowing since I got here, day before yesterday!

I was ready for a trip, and happy to get away. It was a great chance to reconnect and visit and play.

I was happy to get back home, too, to my cozy house in the snow.

I’m ready, now, to settle in for a while.


12 responses »

  1. So glad you made it down. I wish I could have talked with you more, but when you host such a party the most you can hope for is a few words with many friends, but a whole lot of pleasure out of seeing those friends interact. I get so much joy bringing together childhood freinds whom still call me Bobby with later life friends that know me as Bob.
    You explanation of the party’s orgin is correct. One has to make a decision when facing the first holiday season alone; whether to look at it for what you no longer have, making it a negative thing and a depressing time of the year, or push foward doing something to keep the joy in it. I’m so glad I chose the latter. (sometimes you have to make “happy”)
    One correction on the alewife garland. It actually came out of the lack of the fish. I use to tell an elborate “story” of collecting and stringing alewife for one’s tree, expressing my disappointment at their disappearance from our beaches ending that age old tradition. Hearing this, my good friend Linda took it upon herself to make the garland you spoke of. Without them, and of course the bubble lights,
    it wouldn’t be my tree.

    • Aah, thanks for the clarification…I knew it had something to do with the alewives on our beaches! The real story is even better, as it underlines what a lovely, thoughtful friend Linda is! I had a great time, Bob! Thanks for hosting a good party once again!

      • Oh yeah, I’ve never identified Saugatuck’s famed Bare-Chested Christmas Tree Wrestlers- I do have an old picture, but they have black strips over their eyes.

    • Oh, no, not the car! That question made my heart flutter…with those small planes, I worry about lift-off when I’ve put on a few pounds! My aunt keeps a car at the airport on the mainland, for trips like mine or doctor appointments, etc. The airport parking costs about a hundred dollars a year. It would cost that much every time the car had to be shipped on the ferry boat, and that service is only available April through December. If I’m not going beyond the Charlevoix area, I often just walk…but the car is a godsend when needed! Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your comments!

    • Yes, me, too. I like the busy-ness of summer and the quiet of winter. One without the other would get tiresome very quickly! Thanks for reading, Sara, and for your comments!
      P.S. Your candle looks beautiful on my table for the holidays, and burns perfectly. Thank you!

      • I don’t know how some people can get through the year without the changing seasons; I’m so grateful for them.

        I’m glad you like the candle!

  2. Cindy, it can be so challenging driving in snow at this time of year. I think people who don’t live in snow country can’t quite understand. You love the snow; you want to be safe. It’s a conundrum!

    • It can be so terrifying! When I drove freeways almost daily, I would be nervous and aware, but rarely so close to terror as I get these days. Once I had to stop…for the night…in the middle of a four-hour drive downstate, because I couldn’t quit shaking, when the roads were icy. Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your comments!

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