I originally moved to the Great Lakes, in my early twenties when I decided to start a family. My then husband’s parents had a cabin on Lake Superior. I come from the west coast of the United States, so I had familiarity with the Pacific Ocean, and Western Rivers. Because of this, I had an image of what the Great Lakes might be, but I didn’t have any experience with them.
I was really fortunate to have some of my earliest Great Lakes experience with Lake Superior because it was a great experience. The water is clean, crisp and really cold at times. We boiled and drank water from the lake. We also bathed in the Lake, and I bathed my little babies in the lake. It was a very nurturing connection to have with the Lake.
I pulled away from the false impression that all the great lakes were in great condition. Later, when I was able to have some connections with some of the other Great Lakes, I was dismayed at their condition not being as clean, and accessible as Lake Superior. I was really surprised at how private and inaccessible the coastline was. I’ve come to learn about this talk with the ‘Lakes’ but coming from the West coast, I realized people there talk about ‘the Coast.’ Because really, the people interact with the coastline. Unless you have a boat, you are able to interact with the open lake. However, most people make connections of where the water meets the land.
I think there needs to be more appreciation and recognition of the Great Lakes as a coast and a coastal region, not just a series of whole Lakes, and where the coastal interface is with people. My experience with Lake Superior started this way of thinking and I hope others will embrace the coastal connection throughout the region.