Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 3, 2013

Quiet water values - an essay

LANSING – It’s not the grandeur of ice-encrusted Lake Superior in winter or Lake Michigan under a setting summer sun. It’s not the pristine early morning glisten of the Au Sable River.

It’s not the sailboat-plying juncture of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron beneath the shadow of the Blue Water Bridge. It’s not the Straits of Mackinac, Houghton Lake, the Soo Locks. It’s not Grand Traverse Bay, Torch Lake or the Grand River.

It’s not any of the waters that we in Michigan know well, where we boat, fish, swim, ice skate, picnic, let our dogs romp, water ski, wade with our children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

Well, if it’s not those, what is it?

It’s a small, quiet lake – don’t ask me to disclose its name – not too far from Gaylord and not too close.

Maybe 60 feet deep at its deepest but much shallower in most parts. No public access.

It’s a lake where the alert kayaker can spot an eagles’ aerie, where a beaver dam blocks the inlet, where wisps of white birch bark drift on the water, where a single gull and a pair of loons search for food and a single angler is out on his pontoon boat.

On a warm afternoon at the time when autumn is in reach – when leaves are just hinting at their impending color change – there’s a gentle swish, swish as kayaks glide over flowerless lily pads and the paddler can reach into the water and grab beaver-gnawed branches entangled in water weeds.

No, it’s not the type of waters we quickly think of when government and media spotlights shine on the problems of invasive aquatic species, yo-yoing lake levels, pesticide run-off, industrial pollution, pipeline leaks, eroding shorelines, fracking or impinging development.

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