Lake Superior – the vast body of water known for its frigid waters that are as blue as a summer sky. With the temperament of the earth’s mighty oceans, this incredible lake can go from raging whitecaps the size of our mountains seen in this Canadian shield, to water as calm and still as glass so reflective it is a canvas for the dark green trees to paint their portrait on. Yes, to many people this lake is remembered by different names and meanings, but to me it is only known as one: home.
I had the pleasure of growing up next to this great lake my whole life living in Nipigon, Ontario, so I think it’s safe to say I have a lot of memories both onshore and in the water over the many years of me living here. Because of that, I think it’s hard to say just exactly when I fell in love with Lake Superior. Maybe it’s that my love is an accumulation of all these memories and experiences that I’ve had, and with each one my love started to grow more and more as I grew up. That being said, there are a few memories that I do share more than others, because they are not only mine but my family’s too. Without fail, every time we start to retell these dearest tales, our laughter bellows and we feel as though we are right there experiencing them again with our younger selves. So today, I would like to share these with you. I hope that by the end, you will want to take your family to this amazing lake as well so that you can make memories with them that will have you laughing and reminiscing on for a lifetime.
Braving the Cold – Pebble Beach
Now, even though I have been swimming in this famously freezing lake for most of my life, don’t let that fool you into thinking I have some sort of immunity to the temperature. There are many times I have dipped my toes in and jumped out just as quickly because it is just so. cold. That being said, I do remember not caring that much when I was younger and running in full force anyway even if I’ll be shivering for the rest of the day afterwards. I will tell you now, you won’t catch me doing that anymore, but braving the cold will always be one of my favourite things to reminisce upon when looking back on my time swimming on these stunning shores. But my ultimate favourite? Well, that would be the swim of Pebble Beach 2011.
Okay, let me set the scene: We pulled into Marathon and grey clouds started to swallow us whole. The sky was getting darker and darker with each passing stop sign as we made our way to Pebble Beach. We parked our vehicle in the parking lot, and up on the ledge we could hear the monstrous roar of the waves crashing onto the shore. With a gust of Lake Superior wind, it chilled us to the bone, but we weren’t going to let it stop us from having an exciting day. We started to make our way down to the beach, and when we got there, we were balancing ourselves across the many pebbles scattered and piled underneath our feet. We were trying to find a nice patch of sand so that we could set a blanket down and hang out for a while. When we finally found one and we all sat down cuddled in the thickest sweaters we could find, I remember my cousin looking at those whitecaps with a mischievous smile on her face. That’s when she turned to me and said, ‘Let’s go for a swim.’
I knew that if I said yes, it would be the coldest I had ever been. But it was so tempting, braving the arctic chill of the water, and at the time I’m convinced my 11 year old self was invincible. So with that, we threw off our sweaters and started to make our way into the waves. My brother came with us as well, and with our hands held in an indestructible force, we weren’t even knocked down. I remember squealing, laughing, and shivering so hard my teeth were chattering. Every time a wave hit us and the water splattered onto our faces, it was like getting a kiss on the cheek from snowflakes in the middle of winter. But we carried on with determination and adrenaline keeping us warm, until finally we ran out to be covered by a breakable weight of blankets. I think after we left, I shivered for a good couple hours. But even so, we were all heroes that day, or at least that’s what it felt like. After all that, after the cold, the waves, to me it still felt like being hugged by a family member, or really good friend. The coldest hug ever, but I felt the love all the same.
Old Woman’s Bay – Destination Imagination
To preface another one of my favourite memories, I should mention that both my parents really encouraged my brother and I’s curiosity. I mention that because without their encouragement to explore even the tiniest little things, our days spent on the beaches wouldn’t have been as exciting. For example, we used to collect so many pebbles on different shores, and we collected them because we were convinced our skills as treasure hunters had us striking gold or that we came upon a dinosaur egg or something. Our truck, or van, or whatever vehicle we had at the time used to be decorated all over the place with colourful pebbles like sprinkles on a cake. And while my parents encouraged our curiosity, Lake Superior nurtured it. It gave us these treasures whether that was creating the rocks that fueled our prized collections or pushing up driftwood logs as long and as tall as the trees that stand within our strong northern forests. Every single thing that this lake gave us we took, and honestly still do, with endless possibility.
There are many places where said curiosity reigned over all else at our young ages. At Old Woman’s Bay near Wawa, Ontario, for example, the huge wide open sandy beach is the ultimate resting place for the coolest looking driftwood you’d ever see. Because the waves get to free range their massive whitecaps all the way up to the borders of the sand, they push all kinds of driftwood that have fallen into the water. The Driftwood here is in different sizes and shapes, so of course my brother and I always took the opportunity to use them to create our own worlds full of magic and adventure. We would use the different sizes of driftwood to build little castles that we thought were fortresses and use the smaller pieces as magic wands. On that beach, we were people of high royalty, or professional treasure hunters, or pirates coming out of a shipwreck. We would spend hours and hours creating stories and using Lake Superior as our pen. Even now when I go back to visit, I still feel like the hero I was in my stories all those years ago. This lake, being the spark of my imagination and the guide to all of my adventures, is like a tether to my youthful mind and its endless capability of wonder.
Your Turn – Make Your Own Memories!!!
So, in conclusion, these are the few memories that I think are huge reasons as to why I fell in love with Lake Superior. From them, I take with me into everyday life child-like imagination, determination, facing something that scares me, and the importance of family time. And I know, no matter how far I go, I am drawn back to this lake every single time, dipping my toes in the water, and giggling at the welcoming touch of crystal cold water. I really do hope you come here, to any shore of this amazing lake, and make your own memories and stories. I promise you; you will fall in love with this lake just as much as I have!