These are Extraordinary Times

The Stafford Perry Hotel in Fall

I spent the last two weeks traveling through Maine and New England, exploring and enjoying the fall season. I was even able to fulfill a lifelong dream and kayak Walden Pond and walk in the steps of Henry David Thoreau. Which, now, brings me directly back to Downtown Petoskey.

After a swing through Vermont and a trip along much of Lake Champlain, I realized it’s a great lake, but not a Great Lake. Kayaking estuaries in Maine and fishing along the coast, was a dream, but I can toss my kayak and a lure in Lake Michigan most any day.

The Adirondacks were gorgeous, but Little Traverse Bay and the surrounding hillsides are right out my front door.

Lake Placid, fulfilling, but Downtown Petoskey, a match and much more friendly.

Coursing home along the Lake Erie shoreline, I found no place like home.

Even while spending two years secluded in a Walden Pond cabin, Thoreau would spend much of his time visiting with villagers from Concord, Massachusetts; so, much like my romps through Downtown, I visit with guests, business owners, and assorted folks from all over the world. In fact, when I walk out of my writing studio situated in the Hollywood Building on Lake Street, I encounter shoppers resting on the bench in front of Bear Cub Outfitters. They’re always clamoring about the next stop on their tour, and often, I offer directions or a little tale about where they’re at.

As I said, I have found no place like home. This time of year normally brings soft rain, some windy days of seasonal change, or perhaps some snowy morns, but now visitors continue to clamor outside my studio entrance. In no recent memory has it been like this.

Restaurateurs, shop keepers, and city workers have all noted extraordinary times. People are Downtown in droves every day of the week. We’re not complaining, simply adjusting. The usual slowdown when many a young employee goes back to school or heads south for warmer climes, has not come to fruition. Just the opposite. Staff at local businesses are depleted, but guests and patrons have increased. Recently, some businesses reported single days equal to 4th of July weekends. In a tourist/resort town, that’s news!

Thus, as Thoreau would pontificate on commerce and how busy people had become, even in 1845, we are there, again, in Downtown Petoskey. So, for the visitor, please understand, and I’m sorry to repeat the phrase, but we are in extraordinary times. Those who would venture south, are staying north. Those who would visit other places in the U.S. or abroad are coming here. People are buying properties sight-unseen. Be patient. Be nice. Be cordial and understanding. In these times of COVID, we’re doing our best to meet demand and keep all happy. So be happy. Be courteous to those risking their health and security to make sure your experience is a good one.

As Thoreau famously declared, we live a life of quiet desperation. Let’s make it a loud declaration of civility and gratitude. That way Downtown Petoskey can continue to thrive and provide that vital escape in these extraordinary times. 

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