Bois Blanc Island Retreat

Clothing is another topic for analysis. I have learned the joy of not worrying about what I look like or if my colors match. I have a pair of jeans that can serve quite nicely over a period. (At home, they would be in the wash daily.) I have come to understand what Henry David Thoreau meant about slipping into a pair of slacks that already hold the shape of my bending knees. I would not have been cognizant of how relaxing wearing the same pair of jeans for a week can be without my island experience. I find myself wondering, Do I really need to pull out another pair of shorts or will these serve another day? Bois Blanc is an island retreat; I can spend the summer in my cut off’s or jeans and do perfectly fine. I actually live in the little village, but our cottage tucked back in a forest off the main road on a two track, is quite secluded. Visitors are such a rarity that my dog goes ballistic when a car pulls down the two-track dirt trail. I believe that I still have nice hair at 58, because during the summer months, I sport a ponytail – no curling irons or blow dryers, what a delight. No dressing for success, no makeup – this is the best.

Cleaning the cabin takes me all of thirty minutes; I have discovered that I can open the front door and sweep the dust out onto the pine needles if I choose. I have spent hours reading Sarah Susanka’s books (Not So Big House, for one) to help me make this little space not only functional but beautiful. I have learned the benefit of pine needles; they keep the dust down, there is no lawn to cut, and they are beautiful to look at as well as soft to walk on. I made the mistake of raking them up the first summer I owned my cottage and learned, as my family tracked in the black, sandy soil on the cottage floor, the positive services that pine needles furnish. For me, this is peace; I do not want a lawn to mow. Friends who live in Lower Michigan often ask me what I do all summer. It is true there are no shopping malls, no movies, and no crazy highways to take me places to spend money. But … there is everything else, a campfire every night, dark skies filled with stars, a moon that can shines a clear path across Lake Huron to Cheboygan, outstanding wild flowers to observe, birds exhibiting their native tongue to listen to, boating, fishing, and swimming.

The forests are amazing, filled with moss, and mushrooms and miles of trails to enjoy on foot or by four-wheeler. I put 2,000 miles on my Articat Prowler just exploring the island. My explorations are not crazy, the speed limit is 25 on the island, and on the trails I go much slower than that. There are isolated beaches where I take my supplies for the day, and simply enjoy Huron in all of its ravishing blues. This year I stayed until the end of September and had the joy of picking a basket of wild crabapples to make crabapple chutney. (Apples, sugar, cinnamon, and water all night in a crock pot ….Yum.) Our last meal was pork chops and the delicious chutney; enjoyed outside at the picnic table. There was not another human sound, only the breeze clattering the oak and maple leaves; I could hear the water and in the distance the horn of the buoy.

The breeze has stopped, and the trees are still as I finish my muse of Bois Blanc; I can almost hear the multitude of different birds singing an island calypso that beckons me to return. On Bois Blanc, the forests are magical like walking into a C.S. Lewis novel of my childhood. My time on the island is never long enough. There is more beauty to appreciate this coming summer season; I look forward to the leaves, the spectacular blues of the water, the serenity.  How easily I can recall these images of my past summer. A few more months and I will be at home again, in the cottage, visiting with my island friends.

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    Susan — a wonderful reflection on the beauty and serenity of Bois Blanc Island. Reading your thoughts has made me so anxious to make, once again, that trip across Lake Huron. Your words reignited in my soul the reasons I, too, love the island so very much. See you soon.

    Patricia