Suddenly, it’s over.
Yesterday, I stopped at the Holy Cross Hall after work to pick up my supper. Volunteers were manning the long outdoor grills, filling the air with the tempting aroma of roasted chicken. Others were hustling around the kitchen doing prep-work and clean-up. At the back of the hall, long tables were set up with the beverages, chicken, side dishes and desserts; ladies wielding large spoons or tongs waited to help each visitor fill their plate. There were others at the front entry, selling raffle tickets and collecting the very reasonable fee of $14.00 for a half chicken, grilled, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, corn, bread and a lovely dessert. I chose not to eat there, at any of the long tables set up for diners, but to take my meal home to reheat after I’d walked the dogs and settled in. I paid for my ticket, then went around to the kitchen door to pick up my food, packaged for travel.
This is Beaver Island’s “Homecoming Dinner,” offered every year, the second weekend in August. It is a traditional reunion weekend, for all old islanders that have left their home here to live ad work elsewhere. It has changed over the years, but is constant in that it marks the end of our tourist season. Oh, we’ll continue to have vacationers, through Labor Day at least, then color tour visitors and those that come for hunting and fishing, but the huge influx of summer people is now, too quickly, over.
The last of my sisters left yesterday, too. The arrival of my family was divided into three ferry trips over two days last Saturday and Sunday. The week was filled with sunshine and laughter, beaches and games, food and wine. The days sped by! The departures were spread over several days. On Thursday, Nicole, Jim, Hannah, Kristen, John, Danielle, Lily and Cash left on the boat. The next day, it was Todd, Tammy, Cole, Cade and Chloe that boarded the ferry to go home. Saturday, it was Amy and Dennis, with their two little dogs. Yesterday, Keith, Brenda, Cheryl and Joel left on the morning boat that was the busiest boat of the whole season, carrying people away.
Nicole cried when she was leaving. “I hate good-byes,” she told me. “Oh, Sweetheart, then you could never live here;” I told her. “on Beaver Island, in August, it seems like we’re constantly saying good-bye!” It’s true. Every boat carries people away. Many will be back in the spring, or in the heat of summer for their next vacation. There are always some that we will never see again. The hugs are always heartfelt; the final waves from the rail of the ferry are always sad. No matter how you look at it, it’s hard to say good-bye.
This morning, I woke up slowly. I have no place that I have to go. The dogs watch me suspiciously, still not sure that I won’t run off again, to come back hours later smelling like the water, and whatever my sisters gave me to eat and drink. Today, I’m staying home. I’m going easy on myself, and not worrying about my long “To-Do” list. I’m munching pistachio nuts – a gift from Brenda – for breakfast, and drinking my third cup of coffee. I haven’t yet moved far from this desk chair. Some days, a quiet start is best.