In the wintertime on this small island, we are a group of less than four hundred people. We all know each other. Every year that passes seems to make that bond stronger.

In the summer, our population swells to over a thousand residents. Vacationers, tourists and day-trippers add thousands more. We love to see the people come: friendly faces from past years, and new visitors happily discovering what the island has to offer. Our economy depends on the tourist trade, but it’s more than that. Summer’s busy-ness is the antithesis of winter’s quiet, and it brings balance to our lives. Still, when we look through the chaos and catch the eye of another “year-rounder,” there’s a feeling of camaraderie and understanding.

That feeling only grows in the “off-season.” When winter is harsh, we make our way to town through ice or deep snow, for church and school and jobs and necessities, and for necessary human contact. When the planes aren’t able to make their regular trips to transport us to the mainland for doctor visits or excursions, and to bring the mail, perishable groceries and mail-order packages, we only have each other. We exchange glances of quiet understanding; we inquire and worry about each other. “How’s your road?” “Did you have trouble getting in?” “Be careful out there!” We’re all in this together.

Not surprisingly, death hits this island hard. Everyone is a friend, and every death is a personal loss. In the last week, Beaver Island lost two long time island residents. Both ladies had long, productive lives, active in business, politics, church and community before a swift decline and a sudden end. It has left us all feeling off-balance and sad.

As often happens here, one funeral will be delayed until spring, when travel is easier for long-distance family and friends. The second funeral was held Monday. It was joyous and mournful at the same time, and the church was filled to over-flowing with people that loved her. “The island’s mother,” was one apt description of the lady who always greeted me with a smile and “Hi, honey…”

Together, in grief and understanding, we soldier on.

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

5 responses »

  1. Almost always the WP posts are loaded then read off line back at the apartment. I’ve accompanied you from gps pont to gps point, have admired your goals for the new year and your work on your living space as well as what you’re doing at the store – wow, a lot, plus you manage to get outside and exercise and give your ‘mascotas’ their exercise…. whew, yours is a full life!

    always no fun when a loved one moves on, especially the matriarchs. the image for this post is absolutely perfect and puts a smile in my heart!

    stay warm and well – easy for me to say down here at the equator where this morning’s heat was sweltering… that’s ok but it’s the rainy season.. a hot day equals the ocean getting warmer equals more-intense rain in the future…. dengue season always arrives with the intense rains, so it’s time for repellent as my perfume!

    • Oh, be careful, Lisa! You’ve had bad experiences with those mosquito-borne illnesses! Thank you for continuing to read my posts. I have been more neglectful about writing lately, but also about commenting on those posts that I read. I keep up with all of yours, though sometimes don’t respond. You take on heartfelt, enormous issues; I commend you, and am grateful for your good heart, whether I say so or not. xoxoCindy

  2. When I hear of your close-knit community on Beaver Island I recall the show Northern Exposure. I envy that kind of connection. After being raised in the suburbs, spending over a decade in the city, and regressing back to the suburbs I have become somewhat of a hermit. However, when I do venture beyond my walls I don’t move into a community of people I know. I think that’s a special thing, to know who you live among. Be grateful for that. And mostly, I’m sorry for the island’s loss with these two ladies.

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