Home Is Many Places
I’m settled in back on my little wooded acre after spending a week on the shore of Lake Superior. The impressive body of fresh water will always be home to me, having grown up in the city of her name, beside her shoreline and caught in the vagaries of her climate influence. I have hundreds of miles of her rocky banks and stone strewn beaches from which to choose when thinking of home.
The power of this body of water, holding sway over the land and people within her reach, is undeniable. She is both giver and taker of life, a touch point those of us who grew up under her omnipotent gaze return to for better or worse. Not just a setting, but a major character in our life stories.
There is a saying where I grew up, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes, it’s likely to change.” That’s not always as true as I would wish, especially in the depth of the often fiendishly cold winters, yet it is astonishing how quickly the weather can change once it decides to do so. From a cold, foggy morning in the middle of August to a sticky, steamy afternoon blown in on a shift of the wind. From thunderheads and downpour to a vermilion hued sunset, Lake Superior changes her moods on quicksilver whims.
Of all the places I have parked my wandering soul throughout the U.S. and across both of this county’s borders, there is no place I find more serene nor feel more closely connected to earth’s elemental cauldron of life, than a 30-mile stretch along the south shore of Lake Superior, off the beaten path and holding strong against the development we call progress.
Each summer that I visit this place I dream of once again living on the banks of Gitchi Gumii, this time in a spot where rotting and faded fishing boats of a bygone era stand as an homage to the brave men and women who settled the little villages still dotting the short stretch of shoreline. Natives and European immigrants who eked their living from the abundant resources in this fertile basin, sometimes sacrificing their lives, but never completely taming the wilderness, never wishing to subdue the land and water, only wanting to become a part of it.
That sentiment lingers among those who still live there. They are outsiders, formed outside the borders of dictated culture, having little or no contact with the mainstream – or want of it.
It’s a surreal kind of place. I think I’d fit right in.
Authors Note: Along this little stretch of land is the access point for the Ice Caves along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I was inspired to write a short story after a visit there. I hope to set a novel in this place on earth in the near future.