Every good-bye was a sad one yesterday. Every hug was heartfelt. The love and laughter and camaraderie we shared would have to hold me for a while. Study closely the babies and children; they will have grown and changed by the time I see them again.
This morning I was going home.
Keith helped me load my bags in the car. Brenda and I chatted about what a nice holiday we had, as we sipped coffee together. My flight back to Beaver Island was scheduled, and I had a four-hour drive to catch the plane. It was raining. I had no idea what traffic I’d run into, headed north on the day after Thanksgiving. I couldn’t linger.
It’s always hard to leave my hometown. My roots are there, memories abound. Most of my family is there. No matter how long I stay, no matter how anxious I am to be home, it’s always sad to leave. I miss too much, living so far away, not just of the holidays, but of the every-day.
I was thinking melancholy thoughts like that as I stopped to fill the car with gas, and started onto the freeway.
By the time I got to Davison, heavy traffic and pouring rain had wiped any other thoughts from my mind. I pulled off at Irish Road. I got a cup of coffee to go, and had a good talk to myself. The rain might continue, but the car handled well in those conditions. The traffic would surely remain heavy through Flint, but would probably abate after that. If I turned back, I’d have to do this all over again tomorrow…after a dozen calls to readjust plans. I had one other flight option, two hours later. I told myself, “Just get out there, be cautious, get through Flint. Then if you have to stop to get your nerves under control, you can opt for the later flight.”
Both the rain and the traffic slowed after the city; by the time I got past Birch Run, with all of its outlet stores, it was easy going. Hard to believe all those cars were on the road to take advantage of Black Friday sales!
I drove straight through. Through intermittent rain, most of the way, then hard pellets of ice for a short time near St. Helen. It was snowing in Gaylord, and the sky was so heavy with clouds, I wondered if they’d be cancelling flights. It cleared, though, as I neared Charlevoix.
The planes were running as scheduled, and I was on time for the earlier flight. No scary plane ride today, it was clear and calm all the way. Looking down, first it’s the runway and the fields around the airport, then the neat patterns of houses and yards, the gravel mounds at the Medusa cement plant, then water.
Few vessels on the big lake this time of year, so the view is just the sky and water. Whitecaps and wave patterns provide subtle variety.
Then suddenly, land.
Going into winter, Beaver Island is a study of grays, tans and greens. The sand forms a border of white. The bright blue comma at the southern end is Lake Genasereth. The plane then follows the water along the east side of the island. Houses present their best faces to the view, with little regard to lining up with their neighbors. They appear to be scattered randomly along the meandering shoreline. The plane tilts around to line up with the landing strip, and gradually descends until wheels touch the ground.
The pilot exits first, then each of the passengers. Off across the field to retrieve island cars, then back to the airport to pick up the luggage. My first stop, then, was Aunt Katie’s farmhouse, to return her keys and her cell phone, to extend holiday greetings from the rest of the family and give her all the news. Next, to the kennel to pick up Rosa Parks, who greeted me with kisses and a wildly wagging tail.
First a walk through, just because. Then the luggage in from the car. Perishables had to be put away, then clothes sorted out and dealt with. Rosa’s food dish placed back on her pink surfboard rug, where she has her dinner. Every activity can be halted by a little dog smile, or cocked ear, or tail wag as I stop to give her more attention.
I heated water in my new kettle and made tea. I made soup for a cozy meal. Rosa Parks is on her cushion beside me.
I am home.