To find a theme that begins with “B” is easy. Beaver Island is my home. Long before it was my home, it was the place I most wanted to spend time. I had good feelings and happy memories of Beaver Island from family vacations there. I also had a sense of old times, from stories my father told, and laughing conversations he had with friends that shared memories of growing up there.
Vacations on Beaver Island were long August days spent on the beach, tramping through fields, climbing trees and playing in the filtered light of the old barn. Dinners were big, noisy affairs, around the kitchen table, with Grandpa George and Grandma Florence presiding, all adults trying to talk at once. Evenings, we’d wander through the little town, with brothers and sisters in tow, while my parents caught up with friends over a drink or two. Then, drives through the woods as we watched the stars and kept a lookout for deer. Dad had memories to tell about every place we passed, every curve in the road, every section of woods; the little ones fell asleep in our laps to the sound of his voice.
When the first day of school was just ahead, and we had to leave the island, it was a sad and tearful day. Mournful children packed suitcases, stripped beds and swept floors. Tearfully, we said our good-byes to the grandparents, and – feet dragging – followed the ramp onto the ferry boat. We waved, sadly, from the upper deck. When the horn signaled departure, it brought tears and sobs.
I was often the last child hanging over the rail, crying. When the others had moved on to keeping the babies rounded up, exploring the boat or making friends, I was still staring tearfully at the receding landscape. When my brothers and sisters were finding good seats for playing a game of cards, reading a book or taking a nap, I was still collapsed over the rail, in mourning.
I always wanted to live here…and, finally, I was able to. Life has veered widely from the life I imagined here. Of course, reality has a hard time living up to dreams. People and circumstances sometimes disappoint. Life can be very hard…lonesome and mean. Still, through it all, this remains a magical place. I have never tired of the bright surprise when I come around a bend and see Lake Michigan; the woods offer different sights and wonders every day; and every single time I round the corner to face our beautiful harbor, my heart sings!