Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spring Conference Mind

Trading Post Turtles

Jen in the Devil's Kitchen checking out his pots & pans.
The Library of Michigan's Rural and Small Library Conference 2016 on Mackinac Island came just three days after I returned from the SCBWI Wild,Wild Midwest conference in Naperville, IN.  I went from busy city driving to leisurely horses and bikes! Here on Mackinac Island, 550 librarians spilled in from small towns, villages, and rural areas in Michigan. And to hit the island the first week of May's spring weather, was a special treat. 

As an invited speaker for the conference, I was to stay in the Grand Hotel, another treat! (The last time I was on that portch was when they were filming "Somewhere in Time" and Christopher Reeve brushed past my mother and me on his was to a set in the dining room.) 


Sun-warmed cedar perfume fills the air.

The first thing that Jen, my lovely daughter and assistant and I did, was rent bikes. The clear, cool, breezy weather was perfect for a trip around the island--after we checked in and registered at the conference. A huge box lunch sent us on our way with treats for later as we explored the flora and fauna. Cedars and firs smelled divine! White-crowned sparrows in tiny groups, gulls, and a loon zipped past us.

We biked the whole island perimeter and were glad to make it to Arch Rock near the last leg of the journey.

Arch Rock from the bike path. Breccia limestone wonder.
Heading toward town I showed Jen the beaver lodge I had been watching from conferences past. I was glad to see the beaver family had worked on their home before the winter. The lodge is in front of the Mission Point Resort, just off the path by the golf course.

Mission Point Beaver lodge still intact after a long winter.

After dinner we went for a walk and stretch our legs in the gardens and labyrinth in front of the Grand before heading to our room. And what a room! The Madison suite was huge. Jen loved the colors, peach, light sea foam turquoise and antique furniture. There is a portrait of Dolly who watched our every move which had us looking up ghost stories of hauntings at the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel gardens and fountain. Daffodils out now.
The next morning was conference presentation day! Coffee was nice in the quiet, then it was a mad dash to get gear, books, laptop, and things off to their places. What a fast-paced few days.

Morning view from our Madison Suite in the Grand.

I delivered a fun program on Books, Bugs, & Budget to wonderful librarians on how they can come to the rescue of kids getting outdoors. Great interest, questions, enthusiasm made it wonderful. The time flew by. And so did Jen and I! We had a taxi to catch after our amazing Grand Hotel lunch to get to the Mackinac Island School to chat with kids.

Forty-five kids in K-6th grade.

Bikes of all sizes and colors! What fun!
After the rush of the conference it was neat to hang out with year-round resident island kids. They learned about me and I learned about them. Their life of bikes, adventures, fudge, and no cars were their favorite things. When school let out kids went home and Jen and I went over to spend the night with the math/science teacher, Liz Burt and her family.

There was a hike in the oak/beech forest to see blooming hepatica and trillium not quite ready to open. But the real fun was yet to be had. Snake hunting! A popular pasttime for the kids, they head to Old Burners (remains of the island incinerator) to flip the metal sheets there. Mom, Liz had a bag for the snake booty! We found a few cool artifacts from years past. Glass bottles that will never break down, old shoes, lots of horse bones, a small pot, and coyote scat. I did find a large rubber horse shoe and Liz packed the few things up to send home to inspire me for a Mackinac Island Holly Wild adventure.

Seven garter snakes collected and released. 
Snake-hunting at "Ol Burners" 


The next morning, Jen and I took the taxi carriage to town for breakfast at Sea Biscuit. We were served by yet another friendly islander, John. Hickory-smoked molasses bacon, stuffed banana bread french toast, and a "mamosa" (mango) morning treat with coffee sent us off the island feeling pretty good about our visit. This was by far, the most enjoyable island visit I ever had. A great time to learn and share stories. 

Morning island departure view from our early taxi.

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