Monday, October 26, 2009

An Ocean of a Lake

American Marram grass on the dunes of Lake Superior

I pause, wandering the dimly lit aisles of a small, densely packed general store coupled with one of the few gas stations sparsely scattered across the northernmost shore of the U.P. of Michigan. Bread and milk, canned goods, a few frozen confections and assorted toiletries share shelf space beside a broad selection of fishing lures, beef jerky and t-shirts.

Sea Rocket, Cakile edentula,
on the beach at Grand Marais

We arrived here the day before, after several hours’ drive along the dusty, unpaved roads connecting the small communities along the northern shore of Lake Michigan with the more remote villages bordering the larger lake to the north—Lake Superior, Gitche Gumee, Big Water.

We walked at sunset along the shore of this cleanest of the Great Lakes, 160 miles across and 350 miles from side to side. Gentle waves washed smooth colorful stones in the shallow water beneath our feet. While, just out of the lapping waves’ reach, piles of larger stones left higher on the sand suggested this calm is sometimes otherwise.

A gull at sunset

As we approached, gulls flew up from where they’d been standing, facing the wide water, in a long trail of white to float and bob on the still, evening surface.

This is Grand Marais.
Beyond its bold beauty is its space apart from all else.

A t-shirt on the rack says it quite plainly.
End of the earth…2
Grand Marais…4

tracks on the beach

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Mary said...

Everything you serve here at Nature Remains is absolutely stunning, you know. You found the best skies and seas, ever.

bobbie said...

"By the shining big sea water..."

Thank you for these beautiful photos!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Yes, Bobbie! Longfellow's Song of Hiawatha describes Lake Superior and the land surrounding it. On this day, a calm ocean, which I had to keep reminding myself was "only a lake."
Yet, as you'll soon see (still sorting photos!), raging with waves when the wind roars down its length.

Thanks, Mary.
Of all the places we've chosen as vacation destinations, I now rank Michigan at the top of my list. Its raw beauty rivals both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts--it's really something!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I agree about your assessment of the UP. It is like entering a different world.

Appalachian Lady said...

You are a great photographer and writer. I keep meaning to vacation in the Great Lakes one summer. Your post makes me want to go. Thanks.

RuthieJ said...

Grand Marais is one of my most favorite towns in Minnesota. Lovely photos Nina!

littleorangeguy said...

Beautiful, Nina. Transplanted to "the mainland" from Newfoundland twenty years ago, I still miss the sea. Now I live (just about) on the shore of Lake Ontario and on a cold windy day, I can almost be fooled into thinking that the lake is an ocean ... but it's not. Superior is closer, but still...

Q said...

Always a joy to visit you.
I have vacationed around the Great Lakes and I also think the beauty is amazing.

Granny Smith said...

The simple beauty of this place illustrates the saying that "Less is more. Your photos have captured it well, as have your words.

Judi said...

I have not had the pleasure of visiting the UP; you create a lovely vision that I hope to experience.

Roger Owen Green said...

never been to UP; looks lovely.
WV: hydrante - a fan of the water.

S said...

OOOH (see the o's :), What a lovely array of photos! Love the sunset one and the stark simplicity of many others.
BTW, the quote in your header is one of my favorites. Nice to have met you via ABC Wed or Wordless Wed. (I forgot which link I clicked on.)

Please drop by for a friendly visit to my writing & photography blog.

Jay said...

The Song of Hiawatha came to my mind, too!

Beautiful photos. I never imagined Michigan to be so beautiful.