Tag Archives: stars

The Trailer on the Water


october2014 166

Back to my many addresses.

I had almost forgottenĀ  about the trailer on the water. We didn’t live there for long, and not much happened there.

When fall rolled around on Beaver Island, we had to move out of the farmhouse. Though it had been occupied in the wintertime when my Dad was growing up there, it was not insulated, and was very difficult to heat. Dad used to say they’d start the winter with a woodpile “as big as the house.” It was widely believed – even by us – that in trying to keep warm, we might accidentally burn the place down. Better to find another place to spend the winter!

Our own place was not even close to being ready to move into. The slab was poured. That was all. We were still waiting for the well to be completed; we had no structure in place.

We arranged to move into McCafferty’s Hotel for the winter. There were eight units in the building. They were like little apartments, with a living room, full kitchen and a bedroom or two. There were laundry facilities on the first floor. They rented by the week in the summer, but were available as monthly rentals in the off-season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t move in until the beginning of December, after all the hunters were gone.

We moved in to the trailer for about two months, until our apartment at the hotel opened up. The driveway was a long (almost a quarter-mile long!), curved two-track that turned off the East Side drive just before Welke’s Airport, and led all the way down to the south side of the harbor. There were two trailers there, angled along the shoreline. The view of Lake Michigan was spectacular. The wind off the water, though, would hit the broad side of the building, and never even slow down until it had passed all the way through the trailer. I was cold all the time that I lived there!

We knew we wouldn’t be there long; we only brought the bare necessities and never really settled in. That’s probably why I have so few memories of that place.

I had to work a short shift on Thanksgiving that year, as the Shamrock did a festive meal for those who didn’t have family on the island. I was finished early enough, though, to cook our dinner at home. “Topper” McDonough, an old family friend, came to have dinner with us.

One night, when the sky was especially clear, we all wrapped in blankets and walked to the shoreline to look at the stars.

One cold day, after many attempts to get the furnace working, my husband asked Darrell Butler Senior to come over to fix it. Darrell asked Terry if he had thought to hit the reset button.

“Yes,” was his answer.

“How many times?”

“Just once.”

“Once? you’re sure?”

“Yes. Once.”

At that point, Darrell struck a match. A huge BOOM sounded. A pause. Darrell peeked around the corner. His dark eyebrows were charred.

ONCE, you say??

“Well…once…twice…maybe a couple dozen times…I don’t remember.”

Those are my only memories of my short time at the trailer on the water.


Summer Breeze



When the air is hot, and the wind is strong, I am transported back at least four decades.

It is usually only smells that have that power: freshly-cut grass brings me back to Sunday afternoons on Hunt Road, fifty or more years ago; a certain whiff of soap can evoke the spirit of my mother, when I was a small child; sometimes the smell of baby powder lifts me to a time and place when I was a young mother, with small children of my own.

But give me a strong summer breeze, and I am a teen-ager again.

I want to ride in fast cars with all the windows down, music playing at full volume.

I want to head for city lights or country roads, just for the change, the movement and distance.

I want to swim by moonlight, then walk the beach and count the stars.

I want to sleep in a tent open to the moving air.

There is a strong wind blowing today.

Not actually being a teen-ager again, my activities were much more mundane.

I walked the garden this morning, picked radishes and strawberries, and pulled a few weeds.

Went to work at the hardware store.

Picked up a few necessities: dish detergent, dog food, mosquito repellent.

Stopped to say “hello” to Sue, at her gallery.

Washed towels, and hung them on the clothesline.

Pulled a few more weeds in the garden, emptied the kitchen scraps into the compost bin, washed the dishes and tidied the kitchen.

Just a normal day…except for the wind.

That feeling of being at the beginning, with endless possibilities lying ahead…that sense of hope and chance and wonder stayed with me, and kept a smile on my face all day.

Just a normal, exceptional day.

Good things come in on a strong summer breeze!