Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Picket Fences of Beaver Island

Once we've recovered from our dramatic entrance into Paradise Bay, we walk up to the main street. Hugging the edge of the harbor, the stores and restaurants are strung out with spaces in between. At the south end across from a pristine public beach is the Catholic Social Center. Then a cottage or two. Then the ramshackle house containing the Mormon Museum. Next a large hardware store with gift shop attached. The Shamrock Tavern with an outside eating area. Next the locals watering hole.

Then a proud Community Center. We walk inside and are impressed with a full-size stage and raked seating area. (Note to self: Inquire about a one night stand for solo show!) We learn that we've just missed "Beaver Tales," a sold-out evening of island story telling and song. Upstairs is a lounge. A couple of white-haired islanders or tourists work at computers. A few kids are playing games although most of them are out in front with skate board in one hand and bottle of pop in the other.

We continue strolling up the main street. More houses. Including one with a large banner announcing, "It's a boy!" Farther along, the full-service breakfast cafe, followed by a full-fledged market. We roam the aisles finding items we didn't know we needed: a Beaver Island cap, citronella candles in metal tubs, a can of evaporated goat milk, a CD of the latest community meetings. At the meat market counter, the butcher tells a customer, "Yup, I'm a granddad. It's a boy." We congratulate him.

As we're checking out, we see The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. We avert our eyes.

A couple more stores and then a toy museum which we never get to. We walk back to Speakeasy on the lake side.

That's when I am struck by the unique community landscaping scheme. Every several hundred feet is a 15 foot-long white picket fence planted with flowers right to the sidewalk. Roses, snapdragons, black-eyed Susans. Fences as in Frost's "fences make good neighbors"? A more likely message is "Don't fence me in."

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