When moving to Beaver Island for an imagined life of self-sufficiency, when leaving all that is familiar for a new adventure, when moving to homes that are fully furnished right down to the silverware, what gets packed? For this move, and others since, I found that what comes with you are the things that best define the idea of “home.” This is what we brought:
- Clothes. Though packing time was used to weed out things that had been outgrown or worn out, if it was serviceable, it was packed. I filled and labelled boxes of off-season clothing, and used the suitcases for the things we’d need right away.
- Toys and games. My daughters were three and six years old. They had accumulated quite a stash of toys, handed down from cousins or received as gifts from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They had a playroom in the basement with toy box and shelves filled with toys, as well as beanbag chairs and an indoor slide. In their bedroom upstairs, they had dolls and stuffed animals. On the shelf in the broom closet, Terry and I had a collection of board games, cards and dice. We had to be selective. The girls both chose their most precious things, and helped make decisions about what would be stored until we had a place for it, and what would be given away. In the end, we brought a good selection of games, and quite a few dolls and soft toys.
- Books. When I first moved to Beaver Island, my collection of books was pretty small. I had only one cookbook then! We had a small stack of paperback books: Alive by Piers Paul Reid, Jaws by Peter Benchley, and The Exorcist by whatever sick-o it was that wanted to scare the holy hell out of me with that one. I had once joined the Book of the Month Club, lured in at Christmastime by their “choose four books for one dollar” offer, but dropped the membership as soon as I’d fulfilled the required purchases. Other than the books I’d purchased as gifts, I added hardcovers of Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Roll, Jordan, Roll: the World the Slaves Made. Linda and I, on our trips around Flint in between classes, had discovered Young & Welshan’s bookstore, with sale and “remaindered” books right outside the door. There I picked up nice editions of E.B. White’s work and a few other selections. Luckily, I had little expendable income, as I could have easily over-indulged! I had one small bookcase that my brother, Ted, had built for me in high school wood shop class; it wasn’t quite full. My daughters had more books than I did, and they treasured them all. Decisions were hard. We boxed up every single book for the trip to Beaver Island.
- My Journals. I’d started a new one when we started talking about moving to Beaver Island. I would use it, I thought, to chronicle our changing lives. Also, stationery, stamps and envelopes. I was a good letter-writer, and my Mom had told me she was counting on it.
- Art and craft supplies. Finished, framed art, we loaned out or gave away. I boxed up paints and canvasses for the trip. Pencils, charcoals and sketch pads came, too. The camera. My big collection of bits and pieces of yarn, and crochet hooks.
- Plants. I had about a dozen large and healthy houseplants. They all came to Beaver Island.
- Tools. I didn’t personally bring tools, but my husband had a good selection that deserved some space.
Those were the choices we made, when moving three hundred miles away from our families, and all the familiar landscape we’d known.