Missing Lake Superior in the ‘City of Lakes’

By Richard Hackler
I don’t usually remember my dreams. Lately, though, one has been sticking with me:
I’m alone on the beach, sitting with my legs folded in front of me. It’s early evening, the sky is dimming, and the water is rippling out to the horizon. This might be at McCarty’s Cove, or Park Point in Duluth. I’m not sure. Wherever I am, it’s clear I’m looking at Lake Superior, and what I’m doing is what I spent countless evenings doing during the 12 years I lived near the Lake: I’m looking out at the water until the sand cools under my thighs and the evening leaks from the sky. And then I begin sobbing (it is not a subtle dream). This is when I wake up.
In 2014, I moved to Minneapolis from Marquette, and I did this for a few good reasons. My family lives nearby, and my grandfather was nearing the end of his life. I needed to be here. Plus, I didn’t make very much money in Marquette, and my prospects of making more—or of staying at all solvent, really—seemed dim. And I’d caught the sense from my friends—most of whom I’d met in graduate school, and most of whom viewed Marquette as a two or three-year stop on a journey towards something else—that to stay put is to stagnate, that one must leave and challenge oneself in order to grow. Which sounded so sensible, and like the sort of plain truth I would regret not accepting if I didn’t accept it then. And so, early in May, I spent a long morning at McCarty’s Cove, saying goodbye to the lake, and then I drove to Minneapolis, where I am right now, sitting at my desk, looking out a window that faces a parking lot…

Contributor’s note: Richard Hackler has lived in Duluth and Marquette. He teaches college English in Minneapolis.
“The Gift of Water” columns are offered by the Northern Great Lakes Water Stewards and the Cedar Tree Institute, joined in an interfaith effort to help preserve, protect, and sanctify the waters of the Upper Peninsula.

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