Over 700 miles from home, my new favorite ice cream flavor was waiting to be discovered – Jacked Up in Tennessee Toffee. Oh my word! My second new favorite is Michigan Pot Hole, which the state is known for – potholes, not ice cream.
The last eight days have been spent with a close friend (we’re really more like sisters) on the pretty little island (although it’s really a small peninsula) called Rose Island at the edge of Sebewaing, where thumb meets hand in the lower peninsula of Michigan’s Mitten on the bay of Lake Huron.
Carol and I have been friends since early high school in the even smaller village of Britton, Michigan. Her dad was a pastor at the church we attended and even celebrated my marriage to my high school sweetheart in 1964.
After the wedding, she and her husband went to college and we lost touch until she found me online about 13 years ago. We planned to meet soon and when we did, after a few minutes of catching up, it was as if we had never parted.
For the past eight days, we’ve laughed, cried, sewn, taken classes together, met her friends, eaten out almost every day, and sometimes haven’t gotten out of our pajamas until 4 p.m. This is the most laid back and relaxing vacation. of my life…and there have been some great ones along the way.
Although I had never met any of his local friends, it was as if I had known them forever. Welcoming me with open arms it was hard to pay anything as they all insisted that as a company it was their duty to treat me.
We didn’t walk much as we also have mobility issues, but we saw spectacular sunsets over the bay and hiked scenic drives elsewhere along the Lake Huron coast.
Our interests are almost identical. We remembered and supported each other many times. Her little cabin on the “island” was such a respite from the everyday hustle and bustle with get-togethers here and there.
Although I had lived in Michigan for over 40 years, this area of Mitten was new to me. We went to Bay City and Saginaw and too many small towns to name. With the exception of a much needed rainy evening, the days were sunny and bright, lifting our spirits.
We witnessed the full supermoon from its bridge; found delicious fresh pickerel fillets left on her doorstep by neighbors; and tended his small but prolific garden.
She and her seamstress friends have started a big project: to design and start a patriotic quilt that will be auctioned off to the local American Legion for charity. They create a beautiful piece of art for this purpose every year.
Driving along the coast to Port Austin at the northern tip of the Thumb, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Bank 1894, an upscale restaurant converted from an old brick and mortar bank – what else?
We took a sewing course in the nearby town of Millington which lasted a full day. Although exhausted, we still arrived at the quaint little German town called Frankenmuth. My last visit there was when my kids were in school. It has not budged a bit (except prices) for over forty years. Yes, dear girl, I remembered to treat you to some of the best fudge on the planet while I was there, but it looks so inviting and tasty, you better pray that he comes back to Alabama.
Not only did we wander back in time, but the whole community reminds me of where we met – another small farming community with the same charm, settled long ago by immigrants – Germans in Sebewaing and mostly Czechoslovaks with some other Slavic nations mixed in Britton.
Beer is the sweet tea of the north in these small villages and towns, which exude charm in the names of streets, roads and buildings – surnames of the first settlers.
Having forgotten how flat most of the Lower Peninsula is, it was amazing how much you can see. Wind turbines can be seen as far as the eye can see, except at a specific distance from water sources.
Now Sapphire, my Chevy, will take me back to the area where my children grew up, as more visits with dear old friends and family are on the agenda. It will be like an old week at home with high school classmates and continually renewing old friendships and acquaintances with a healthy dose of time spent with grown nieces, nephews and cousins with their own families.
Have a wonderful time – wish you were here.
The daughter of a coal miner born in Appalachia and schooled in Michigan, Hill currently lives in rural Athens. She describes herself as a cook and cookbook author, a jack-of-all-trades and mistress of nothing, a Christian mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She shares her home with her spoiled beyond belief dog, Molly.