After working and living in Metro Detroit for just under a year-and-a-half, I’ve recently moved five hours, or 280-some miles, north — to Mackinac Island.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Mackinac Island is an island just under four-square-miles in Lake Huron. It was the U.S.A’s second National Park (Yellowstone was the first), it produces fudge as often as many of us breath in and out in a day and it is replete with horses and bicycles… because on Mackinac Island there are no cars.
Well, actually there are a few cars. There is a fire truck and an ambulance, a police vehicle and probably one or two other emergency type automobiles, but everyone who isn’t on fire or in some other urgent need of assistance is expected to go without an internal combustion engine.
I moved from the Motor City to a place where motors are verboten. It was for the job and it was for the lifestyle that comes with it. I ride a bike to work each day — the 1.3-mile commute takes about 10 minutes, but includes enough up and downhill challenges to keep me awake before that first cup of office coffee. The traffic usually involves an older couple out for a morning stroll.
Northern Michigan is a reminder that anyone can escape a hot day under the shade of a big tree. It’s where the lakes are always chilly and each stone we skip across the surface of the water is more perfect than the previous one. It’s where winters are cold, underwear is warm, and both are usually of the long variety.
More importantly, northern Michigan is where I am now. It’s the setting for the next big thing in my story.
There is blue water and blue sky, green grass and white sand (or snow) and a couple times a day I get to watch a couple ounces of black powder ignite in a cannon.
This is where I am now. And I’m pretty damn happy about it.*
*Except I don’t particularly like horses. Mackinac Island is full of them. Massive creatures made of muscle hard as rock, but horses, like people, have personalities and horses, like people, don’t mind making your day a little worse. If a horse doesn’t want you to ride it anymore, it may buck you off. That pain you feel in your back? That’s the result of gravity, the earth, and a horse that doesn’t really like you. You’ll be seeing a doctor soon.
When feeding a horse, one must take extra special care to make his or her hand concave — stretching his or her fingers as far as possible in the opposite direction nature intended for them. The purpose? Your fingers feel like baby carrots to a horse’s long, muscular tongue. They crunch in a similar fashion as well.
But sure, those are animal instincts. Bucking a rider or chomping on a supposed snack comes naturally to a creature thought to be trained by man. But what if we were to somehow make a horse stronger? Not with steroids or radioactive spiders. Instead, lets put metal on the bottom of their feet, just to ensure a swift kick of the hind leg or a quick trampling with all four hooves inflicts maximum possible damage.
I understand how one might be attracted to horses… the way I am attracted to paisley print neckties… but a necktie has never chomped off my finger.