Learning an important lesson from Islanders

Spring on BArney's

Spring on Barney’s Lake
is worth waiting for!

My birthday gift this year was a special one to be sure: One full day in the Emerald City (that would be Traverse City) to do anything my heart desired. Oh, I was heady with the thought of eating at all my big city favorites spots, shopping at the holy trinity of stores (Kohl’s, Michael’s and Bed-Bath & Beyond), and perhaps an excursion to the art museum to see the King Tut display.

And then the day of our departure, the weather turned. It was one of those most frustrating types of weather systems. The sun would shine on the Island but Charlevoix was socked in, and visa versa. After three hours of waiting at the airport, we finally lifted off toward mainland America. I didn’t get to do as much on my birthday adventure as I’d planned but hey, that sometimes happens when you live on an island.

It brought back a memory of a much younger version of myself, stranded by a snowstorm on the Island while my fiancé sat waiting in Charlevoix to drive me to an engagement party being held in Indiana. “You’re stuck here for awhile,” my mother advised, “enjoy it.”

But of course I didn’t. I fretted, whined and called the airport on the hour – every hour. The weather finally improved and to everyone’s great relief I was put on the first plane off the Island.

Having lived here full time for 20 years now, I have learned a great deal about how to deal with life’s little bumps in a much more mature manner. For you see, all Islanders seem to have an unlimited capacity for patience. They wait for practically everything.

Routinely, they wait in cars for dogs, deer (always more than one), ducklings, and the town turkey flock to cross the road. They wait patiently while young summer visitors on bikes weave back and forth across their vehicle’s path. They might growl under their breath, but they wait.

They wait on stormy days in the winter with an ear cocked to the sky, listening for the sound of a plane. If all they hear is the wind and snow they quickly determine they’ll have to wait a day for mail or that promised Amazon package.

They wait at the boat dock or the airports for visiting friends and relations to arrive. And when those folks depart, Islanders will stay until the plane takes flight or the boat rolls past the buoy. You just can’t rush Island hospitality.

They wait for the ice to melt enough for the little red tower to fall into the waters of the harbor and hope their ‘bet’ on when that would happen will yield a prize in the annual Ice Classic contest.

They wait for the first boat of the season. They wait for hours to glimpse the last rays of spectacular sunsets on Donegal Bay. They wait for Memorial Weekend and start of the season, and then wait for Labor Day when all can relax their pace a bit.

Islanders are resigned to the fact that winter will linger a bit longer on the Island. But they won’t bemoan her stay. They’ll wait, and relish all the more the shy appearance of Trilliums and the prolonged unfurling of green ferns in the woods. And then they’ll wait for Lake Michigan to warm up…and wait…and wait.

But that’s okay. For after two decades of living here, I’ve finally discovered the virtue of patience. Thanks Islanders, for a good life’s lesson. It was worth waiting for.