It was a quiet November morning. One of the 2 rooms staying last night told me that they were late risers (that translates to a 10am breakfast), and the other needed an 8am serving since they planned on catching the 9am ferry to the island from St. Ignace. This arrangement was no problem, as I had planned to serve my signature blackberry cream-cheese stuffed french toast – which is easily grilled when the guests arrive for their morning feast.
The early risers were talkative as they retrieved their first cup of hot coffee. As I usually do, I asked them what they do for a living; Mike answered that he was gainfully employed at a landscape nursery and also doubled as a real estate agent, and Debbie was a medical transcriptionist who recently lost her contract and was "between careers". After both consoling and encouraging Debbie on her new adventure, I busily filled their glasses with orange juice.
I had noticed on their folio that they resided in El Cajon, California. "Where abouts is El Cajon?" I asked, not knowing the exact location. "Near San Diego", Mike replied as he stirred cream into his coffee. I then commented about the incredible fires that had taken place out there last week, and mentioned that they must be very lucky. A silent moment went by, until both Mike & Debbie raised their bowed heads to tell me: "We lost our home".
It took me a few seconds, but I regained my composure and offered my condolences. "What in the world are you doing here in northern Michigan???" I asked surprisingly. They told me that they figured since the trip was already paid for and that they had no rush to get back to the demise – why not start their "new life" exploring an area of the country that was relatively new to them. They had ventured to the UP and had always wanted to see the island and peacefulness of northern Michigan – so here they were sitting in my home, enjoying the pleasures of this cozy B&B.
I was so shaken by their story that I needed to be careful not to burn the french toast.
As breakfast was underway, I was impressed by the attitude and calmness Mike & Debbie portrayed in our conversation. They joked about Mike wanting a new home, and Debbie not wanting to move from their current location – and now they claim that they will both be happy as they build a new house on the same property. Debbie looks upon this as a sign in more ways than one – her decision to make a career change was now hastened since her transcription equipment was destroyed ("Was someone trying to tell me something?" she laughed). When I asked about all of the "stuff" they lost, Debbie retreated with the comment: "That’s right, it’s just stuff. We still have what is important to us, and now an opportunity to start anew with EVERYTHING. To us, it is an action which freed us in many ways."
Wow. I thought that this was going to be a quiet November morning. My mind has not stopped thinking about Mike & Debbie, and the words and feelings of wisdom they left with me. It’s easy to obsess about the "stuff" we have and don’t have … and it only took a short conversation to remind me that most of it really doesn’t matter. Approaching each day with newness and unshakable attitude is the important lesson that I was reminded of today, even in the face of a historical tragedy such as the California fires. Thank you, Mike & Debbie, for your short but incredible stay at Brigadoon – and I hope you had great fun exploring Mackinac Island!
"Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Until next time!
Brigadoon Bed & Breakfast