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Over the years and months I've blogged at length about the Great Lakes shrinking water levels and other such water level topics with such headlines as:

Lake Michigan Down By Over 5 Trillion Gallons This Year
and
Climate Change is Evaporating the Things we Love - Great Lakes at Historic Lows
and
A Drying Lake
and
Shrinking Great Lakes Reveal 125 Year Old Shipwreck Near my Grandpa's Island

And of course the EXCELLENT diary Fishoutofwater did today about how the Great Lakes are at historic lows.

Check out FishOutOfWater's diary for the technical details. Fish has some excellent charts and descriptions and is a passionate descriptor of the problem.

I need to stress, however, that I've lived my life near Lake Michigan. I was born near the Big Lake
I grew up by the Big Lake
I'm raising my kids the Big Lake
We live near the Big Lake
My father lived near it
My grandfather grew up on an island in Grand River near the Big Lake
My Great Grandfather built a house on an island in the Grand River near the Big Lake.

I spent my childhood in the surf of Lake Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan, running through the dunes and the woodlands and the marshes. During the prohibition my great grandfather went out to the marshes and assembled a still to make whiskey for Al Capone just across the lake in Chicago.

The lake...the Big Lake. Lake Michigan. She's in my blood. I can't possibly describe the beauty of this Lake. The Big Lake. Lake Michigan.

Parked by the Lakeshore on a stormy day, I marveled at the Big Lake in high school. I marveled at her beauty and strength, not caring who knew, who cared, who watched. The Big Lake was just beautiful regardless of who was watching. And when.

Parked along the shores of the Big Lake in my car with a girl.

A girlfriend held above the water and then dunked under in a kiss.

Skin and sand. The aglae-earth smell of water in curly hair and locked eyes. Lightning in the distance.

It's not just a lake.

It's not just a Big Lake.

It's THE Big Lake. It's the only lake. The Ocean. The Sky. The glassy Milky Way in reflection. It's infancy. It's childhood. Adolescence and innocence. It's the dreams of parents and a beach bonfire with Doritos and Mountain Dew, and a friend with his acoustic guitar he'd just started taking lessons for. It's the "until we hear the high pitched whine of the Coast Guard helicopter with its search lights at 1 AM". It's the young lovers stealing away into the sassafrass smell of dunes under the darkness discovered by the flashlights of the park rangers. The half keg in the sandy waters of the chilled Spring Big Lake surf, visited by young and hardy campers all night, all night, and then all morning.

It's the early morning sugarsand sand beach sand, and a single set of barefoot footsteps along the sugarsand beach sand sand, lapped and then covered by the waters, like the Big Lake, the beautiful BigLake working to hide our tracks. She'd never rat us out.

Our lover.

She's receding.

Our lover.

The Big Lake. She's receding.

The falling water levels of the Upper Great Lakes.........

The falling water levels of the Upper Great lakes........it's like losing a friend.

It' like losing a friend. Like losing a feeling. A way of life. It's like losing the warmth of a lover's touch. Like losing a lover. Like losing the sky. Like losing the earth. Like losing youth. Like losing childhood.

How can I possibly explain to you what it means that the Great Lakes water levels are falling? How can I tell you? How can I tell you of the feeling of water in your head, actually in your head? In your sinuses, shoved in from the surf until the elements and scent and essence has been shoved up your nose, into your brain and your very essence....

....really rammed up there until the water is you, and you are it and a warm person is in your arms.

You're in love. You're in love and the moon is in double, reflecting off the glassy starlit waters.

Until the sands are in your shoes. Until the sands are in your sheets. Until the sands are in your scalp and your blood, how can you know the loss of a few inches of water? A few feet? The empty shoreline and the pilings from a century ago?

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 06:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and DK GreenRoots.

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