Brees Blog
A Love Affair With Mackinac Island

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Brees Blog - If you have always wondered about actually living on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan then reading this blog will definitely give you an inside look and feel in not being a tourist but an actual resident of this small northern Michigan community.

Kathy interviewed the author of Bree’s Blog, Brenda Horton, while having lunch with her this spring at the Seabiscuit Café to learn more about her love of Mackinac Island.

Below is her interview - enjoy!

Kathy: You, your husband and, of course, your two dogs have been living on the Island now for four summers and writing Bree’s Blog for the same amount of time. How did you and your husband, Ted, find Mackinac from all the way from South Georgia?

Brenda: Ted spent all his summers as a little boy in the Les Cheneaux Islands in the UP. His stories about his daily outdoor adventures in this safe paradise on earth just seemed so quaint, beautiful and fun! So, in 2000 instead of going to the beach for our summer vacation we spent two weeks on Mackinac Island. Ted figured that the Island would be our base of operation, but we rarely left the island since there was so much to do right here. During that first summer vacation, the island worked its magic on me; and even Ted relived his fondest memories of northern Michigan.

Kathy: There are other islands around the U.S. and definitely islands in the Les Cheneaux Islands in Hessel, Michigan. What made Mackinac Island have such an appeal to you?

Brenda: Well, I find the island magical. I know that sounds cliché but its true. When we’d come on vacation for two weeks, we’d spend our days exploring all the trails in the interior of the island, carefully marking them off on a map as we walked each one. One thing that makes Mackinac unique, I think, is its size. Being able to bike around the entire island in an hour or so, or spend a couple of hours on the trails hiking really puts the size in perspective. After a very short time, you feel at home with the rocks and trees and water. Of course, the ban on motorized vehicles forces you to get out and moving, so it’s an extremely healthy place to live.

Kathy: When did you know you wanted to call it your second home?

Brenda: Our first summer on the Island passed quickly, and I cried when we left. When we stepped on the ferry for our crossing the second year (2001), and the Grand Hotel came into sight, we looked at each other and said at the exact same time, “it feels like we’ve come home”. It has become an almost spiritual place for me. Seeing it rising out of Lake Huron as we cross from the mainland brings chill bumps to my arms every single time. I just simply love it. In 2008 we realized our dream of buying our own home on the island.

Kathy: By becoming a resident of Mackinac Island, Michigan with its year round population being 523 residents did the magic change? Do you come "home" to visit during the winter months?

Brenda: When we’d only be here for two weeks on vacation, it was definitely the island itself – the peacefulness of the woods, the beauty of the water, the historical landmarks and the changing seasons. I visited the island for Winter Festival a couple of years ago and loved being there to see the snow and experience the island in the season most folks miss.

After living here now for going on four summers, I have fallen in love with the island’s people as well. We live in a part of the Island called Harrisonville, and most of the folks who live here are year-round island residents whose families have been in this spot for generations. “Salt of the earth” is a clichéd phrase, but that’s how I see them. We now think them as our friends and neighbors with the added development of caring for them deeply, and I hope that’s how they see us.

Kathy: How has writing Bree’s Blog opened the magic of this island to you even more?

Brenda: Well, writing Bree’s Blog was first just a way for me to tell my friends and family in Georgia about my amazing second home. But the blog has opened the door to other folks on the island – summer residents to shop owners as well as the tourists! I never get tired of having someone stop me on the street to ask directions to somewhere. When they find out we actually live here, their eyes get big, and they grin and say, “How blessed you are!” And that’s how Ted and I see it also – we are blessed. It has become home to us and home should always be a safe haven in your daily lives especially a home on Mackinac Island where life is at a simpler pace.

Kathy: Moving to a new community is always difficult for it takes time to find new friends to feel comfortable in your new community. Was there one particular person who helped you find your way to the heart and soul of Mackinac?

Brenda: Yes! There was and is one person that I feel is the epitome of the goodness that Mackinac Island instills in a person. I wrote about this person in a blog from my first summer on the Island – it’s Jill who works at the Island Bookstore.

Here's an excerpt from my blog about Jill: "When I first got to know Jill, I gave her the nickname JIB (for "Jill in the Box") - because she just popped up everywhere. At first I thought she knew everything because she worked at The Island Bookstore. I figured there must be some secret information system that fed every little tidbit of news from every corner of the island into that tiny little store…. But then I realized, no – it’s just that Jill knows everyone on Mackinac, and everyone knows her...

But the best part of getting to know Jill was not how much she knew - the best part was becoming her friend. Being Jill’s friend is like taking little rays of sunshine and spreading them across your day – regardless of the weather, regardless of your mood, regardless of how you feel – Jill’s voice and her smiling face can lift you right up. Her spirit is sweet and generous and kind. I am so blessed to be able to call her "friend".

Kathy: We are blessed to have you as an Ambassador of Goodwill telling the world that there is a magical place on this earth...and it's called Mackinac Island. Your blog brings beautiful insight to the daily wonders that the island provides to all of us. Thank you, Brenda and please keep on, should we say, blogging!

Insider Tip: To read more of Brees Blog click here and have a delightful time learning what it's like to live on "magical Mackinac Island" through the eyes of one wonderful lady!

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