Life in the “uncivilized” north.

A conversation I had with my dad the other day made me stop and think for a moment about the life I lead. Some of you I know are familiar with this lifestyle, to others it may be completely foreign. But I thought I’d share a little glimpse of what life’s like for us bears here at the base of the Mackinac Bridge. I live 30 minutes away from the closest walmart, which to be perfectly honest is not my first choice in shopping, so in actuality I live 45min-1hr away from the closest decent shopping centers. We have one small movie theatre, which does not accept plastic and doesn’t have 3D movies (which make me seasick anyways!) Nearly all of the shops and restaurants on main street are closed in the winter. When the shops are open in the summer it’s mostly touristy made-in-china crap, or overpriced novel woodsy things. My idea of a good time is going down to the beach on a gloriously windy and un-seasonally warm(40 degree) winters day,

Panorama of the straits
Panorama of the straits on that blustery day (Click to see it bigger)

or as Dad laughed about, going on a Snowy Moonlight Owl Prowl! Which is happening later this month a few hours south of here. During the winter we spend most of our time inside where it’s warm! This is when I do the majority of my crafting and creating, my summer job keeps me very busy. It’s also a great time to catch up on our favorite TV shows, movies and games. Though one of my favorite things to do is sit in my reading chair by the window with a cup of hot tea, a good magazine and watch the snow fly.

stuff I made: the pillows on the chair, the sock dolls in the window, the dark green blanket on the foot stool...
stuff I made: the pillows on the chair, the sock dolls in the window, the dark green blanket on the foot stool…

There is one stoplight in town, two if you count the one by the highway. We have a small IGA with a very limited but adequate selection, there’s a small post office and a handful of police. This time of year main street looks like a ghost town, up north here at the foot of the Mackinac Bridge we hibernate for the winter. The necessities for life are here, but not much more. You can count on half-an-hour’s drive at least to get to the next biggest town.

I adapted quite quickly to this lifestyle, it’s a very natural one for me. I wouldn’t trade it for the biggest city in the world. During the winter we can go for weeks at a time without seeing anyone else, most of our friends and family are elsewhere in the winter. When I need craft supplies or we need something for the house it’s not really just a quick trip to the supermarket or hobby store to pick it up, if you’re going to make the trip you might as well make it worthwhile, so I like to wait until we have a hefty list of items to  pick up. This often translates into once a month visits to the store. If there is something last minute I need for dinner, I have to think of it before the IGA closes at 6pm. Needless to say meals are simple but creative here. There isn’t a wide choice of restaurants. Burger King and Subway are the only fastfood, and Subway isn’t open in the winter. The rest of the restaurants are pizza places or typical American food. This year we’ve had internet access thanks to this lovely apartments we found, and that has rather been a novelty, and for me a real blessing. It has allowed me to start and keep-up this blog, stay in touch with friends and family, spend hours absorbing information and ideas from Pinterest… Last year we had no internet, or sketchy internet we shared with 30 people. I’m not actually sure what other “civilized” businesses most people use on a regular basis that I don’t…

Now I’m not complaining about any of this. Not one bit. I chose this life. I love this life.

I grew up in a suburby type neighborhood. Though it wasn’t one of the gross cookie cutter new ones, it’s an older pretty neighborhood, the house backed right up to a beautiful wooded park (which is where I spent a LOT of time with my best friend) We were however within a short drive 5-10min of pretty much anything you can imagine. There was a mall (I have no clue where the closest mall is), a myriad of restaurants, modern movie theatres and well anything and everything you could ever need or want. It’s all fine and well, but it’s not quite my cup of tea. I started working on Mackinac Island when I was 18, and quickly fell in love with the island, with the lakes and the natural beauty of the Northern Woods. (Which are by the way quite different then the woods I grew up in) and more importantly I fell in love with this way of life. Life is slower here, there aren’t quite as many people rushing everywhere to do all the things they do. I can ride my bike or walk to almost anything I need. I’m surrounded by trees and just a hop skip and jump away from the lake. My idea of a good time is a nice hike and a picnic on the beach, observing and recording all the different plant and animal species. I already saw my first Bald Eagle of the year last week! I welcome the winter, I welcome the snow, I welcome the cold that keeps us indoors, and in the spring I love the storms and the rain and all the green things that grow, in the summer everything is in it’s full green glory and this little town at the base of the bridge comes alive with thousands of people, and I welcome them too. Fall comes swiftly after summer in whirlwind of storms and changing colors on the trees. The crowds are starting to thin, I’ll say goodbye to all my friends for another year, exhausted in a good way from a summer of hard work it’s just about time to settle in for another quiet cozy winter. My life is different from most I suppose, because it’s very seasonal in my activities and in the observance of nature. It certainly isn’t the life for everyone. But I wouldn’t trade it for all the world. I don’t have lofty ambitions to have a career and make lots of money. I’m happy having just enough to meet our needs, and time to sit and watch this beautiful world go by, who knows when I’ll have a chance like this again?

basically my backyard
basically my backyard

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