VIOLA - While the deer are waking up and looking for nibbles, our day begins with breakfast at Findley’s. My partner, Dane, loves their homemade cake donuts adorned with anything from chocolate sprinkles to cream frosting and shredded coconut. He also loves their homemade raspberry jam! We order scrambled eggs, hash browns and toast.
Looking out toward the lake, we take our time eating, admiring the blue skies and the maple leaves dancing a slow waltz in the breeze. This huge breakfast will fuel our day of exploring Washington Island on bikes.
Our bellies full, biking is easy on the mix of straight and winding roads, with their gentle dips and slight inclines. The few cars we encounter slow down and give us a wide berth. We take several side trips on our circuit of the island. We walk through lavender fields, visit museums, clamber over round white stones on a beach, and sink into sand dunes along the southern lakeshore. We admire local art, pick out a few new books, and hold a garter snake. We even refuel with killer mocha shakes!
But after 12 hours of touring the island, we’re famished again. Our last stop is at the Mountain Park Lookout Tower. Scrambling down the stairs and hopping back on our bikes, we talk nonstop above the roar of our growling stomachs about the urgency of getting to the Albatross before it closes. We need to hurry!
Pedaling down Hemlock Lane, we see the sign announcing our turn: Sunrise Cabins. I signal with my left arm while glancing over my shoulder for cars. Crossing the street, Dane and I glide onto the two-track driveway and coast to our cabin’s deck.
Our skin bronzed by the sun, legs heavy from a day of riding, and bellies complaining of hunger, we hurry into our cabin to splash water on our faces and grab the car keys.
“Albatross or bust!” I shout.
Eleven minutes before closing, I get in line to place our order while Dane rolls through the song choices on the outdoor jukebox. About the time I’m balancing baskets, malts, and mounds of onion rings, ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ starts playing.
The two gals at the next table start singing along, their heads bobbing in rhythm, while they scrape up the last of their malts with plastic spoons. A young man, his foot gaily tapping, is holding a vanilla cone for his white bull-terrier mix to lick. I notice that Dane and I are subconsciously chewing to the rhythm of the music.
The sun has gone down and I don’t have a jacket, but there’s really no need. The spontaneous community sing-along, the glow from all the lights shining now that it’s dark, and our bellies filling up again create all the warmth I need on this island that has provided us with the perfect day.
This essay won second place in the 2018 Washington Island Observer Writer’s Contest.