Today is a beautiful day, and within a few minutes, I find myself reflecting on this past summer spent on Bois Blanc Island located in the Straits of Mackinac. I am missing the island on so many different levels, and when the weather is gorgeous, I question the wisdom of closing our cottage for the winter. Island life has changed me; I am a better person for having the chance to mesh with nature. At the beginning of each summer, I see a huge canvas and all the time in the world to fill the blankness with my summer adventures. Now, summer behind me, the time seems too short, and I long to return.

Island life is my opportunity to simplify the confusion that I have allowed into my daily living and work down state. I can recall sitting at the picnic table outside my cabin … aside some enormous pine trees –-they must be one hundred plus years old judging from the size of the trunk and the height. The trees are fixed, stationary icons, a vision to me of calm strength, and a slow force next to my speeding but often ineffective energy. In my mind’s eye, there is a breeze perpetuating the oak leaves, mixed amongst the pines and red cedars, into a muffled clapping. As thousands of leaves crescendo in the wind, I smile; I cannot help it, I imagine the leaves are signaling approval for my thoughts. Sun rays streak through the branches sheltering my summer property forming patterns of shadow and light on the ground cover of pine needles strewn with cones and knee high fern. The real beauty for me is the various hues of green displayed in the leaves and needles overhead as the light touches each surface.

Our small cottage is a bare bones operation … and I like that. As I pack each item in my vehicle at the beginning of the summer, I evaluate and question myself; do I really need this or can I do without it?  I realize that this reflection on my daily needs is something that I do not consider, as I should, at my home in Milford, Michigan. There are stores too numerous to count, and drug stores on every corner; often I rush out after work to pick up this item or that item without a lot of prior thinking, only to discover later at home that I have purchased more than I need. Living on the island during the summer makes me a better consumer -– I question the necessity of what I am buying. Our purchases have to come over on boat or by airplane, and as inconvenient as this may sound, I love how organized and resourceful I am on the island. I make a list before calling Glen’s in Cheboygan, carefully reviewing what we will need, who will be visiting, and what amount of space I have to store. Glen’s Market in Cheboygan will shop for me for $10.00 and deliver the groceries packed in banana boxes to Plaunt Transportation for the ferry. This is a joy; I have never enjoyed shopping, and to receive this service is a treat. I find that not going in to the store (even with the extra cost of transporting) cuts my summer grocery bill.

Throughout my stay in Pointe Aux Pins, I find that I pay better attention to the trash that my husband and I accumulate. I recall a day last July when I spent the afternoon cutting milk cartons down, folding cardboard boxes, and actually determining if I could have another use for a jar or plastic container in the future rather than tossing the item in refuse. I know that many of you are way ahead of me and may be thinking, Where has this woman been? Of course, we recycle, but upon reflection, I admit that my life off the island is sometimes recklessly busy without taking the time to consider how much waste I personally create. A few weeks on the island and I feel challenged to observe and ask the questions, Should this item really exist in my life; Do I really need this? This information is empowering for me, and I am ashamed that I am so late in learning.

Photo(s) by Susan McCoy