Though its waters are fresh and crystal, Superior is a sea. It breeds storms and rains and fogs, like a sea. It is cold in mid-summer as the Atlantic. It is wild, and masterful. — George Grant, 1872
Lake Superior makes her home on the earth about 120 miles northeast of my little red house in the St. Croix River Valley. She’s vast, cold and clear, and without a bit of time spent on her shores regularly I get a little twitchy. There’s something about the volume of deep fresh water that can refresh even the weariest of souls and balance whatever needs balancing. After a few days sleeping next to the big lake, I usually feel like I’ve been filled up with nourishment and topped off with vitality and peace. Conditions can be bright, sunny, and calm enough to see down into the cool blue depths as the water tempts the hardiest of us to wade until our legs go numb; or, as is usually the case, it can be damp, foggy, and chilly enough for wool sweaters as waves crash against the rocky shore. She’s a lake of many moods, but regardless of where her mood falls on a particular day or season, she’s a healer as much as she’s an enchantress.
A few weeks ago, my family celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary along the shore near the little hamlet of Grand Marais. We rented a house-turned-cabin at an old resort, hiked through the cold mist for the first four days and emerged into bright sunshine toward the end of our stay. We skirted the sides of ancient mountains, traversed bridges made from logs and stuck our feet into the cool water of inland lakes that you can only get to by hiking trail. We watched loons dive, sat in front of a massive stone fireplace, and gazed out at a horizon that seems to disappear into forever. We poked around on the rocky shore, explored the inland tide pools and marveled at all the shades of green that moss can be. We remembered that we are part of the lake just as much as she is part of us and the rest of the earth.
We remember that though we need to visit her regularly, we also need to remember how it feels to be along her rocky shores when we aren’t physically there. We need to remember to tap into that feeling when we are unbalanced or adrift, no matter where on the earth we find ourselves. Because her energy is made of ours, and ours is made of hers. And we are all made of the same stuff as stars.
“Even the rocks can speak…” — Billy Blackwell, Ojibwe Elder
Leggings by Wild & Roaming.
Photos by Nicholas Barr of Northome Films.