Sunday, April 26, 2015

V is for Vast

My childhood years were spent in Duluth, MN. For those of you that flyover the Midwest, Duluth is at the tip of Lake Superior. Trivially speaking, Duluth (and Minnesota) lay claim to the world's largest sandbar, aka Park Point. Thanks to the ongoing grinding of the hinterlands, occurring even now as I write, performed by the relatively unknown St. Louis River. Park Point is one expression of the river delta and estuary that the St. Louis has created as it empties into Lake Superior.

Back in the day when I was a mere lad, some would say prior to global warming, Lake Superior was too cold for swimming, unless you were a lake trout, or possibly a lamprey. Nonetheless my mother would take the three of us bored kids down the hill from our sunny house on the inland plateau and treat us to a day on the beach at Park Point. This beach was (and still is) huge and beautiful. Sometimes it was even warm, to the point where the hot sand would hurt your feet. So we would run to the water to cool our burning feet, which of course would immediately freeze our feet. So back we would go, to the hot sand which still hurt. Eventually we found a good middle ground standing on the wet sand at the strandline. At some point in our childhood we learned to wear shoes. Things were primitive back then, going barefoot still happened on occasion.

As a child in the 70s, a college student in the 80s, and a father in the 00s, standing on that Park Point beach and looking out over the lake taught me the meaning of "vast". That beach was the only place I've ever been, where I could watch a ship sink out of sight due to the curve of the earth and still have one foot on land and the other foot in fresh water. We're small, the planet is big. Lake Superior is simply vast.

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