There's nothing like it

Big Lake, ON (Illustration by Pete Ryan)

Big Lake, ON (Illustration by Pete Ryan)

Written by Gary A. Bouchard, traditional name: Zhowno Biness (Thunderbird of the South), from Pays Plat First Nation, traditional name: Pawgwasheeng (Shallow Water).

Last night was probably my final night for this blessedly long season on the Big Lake (Lake Superior) in Ontario. I was there monitoring for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Since 2012, each field season I assess visitor disturbance and overall traffic, and I check for invasive species. The days are quite long, but any day on Lake Superior will always surpass any day in any office. I love monitoring Wilson Island, the Powder Islands and others on the lake.

Last night was my last night of sleeping on the boat under the stars and being woken up by a pesky whiskey jack (gray jay) chirping and breaking off tiny sticks and twigs to throw at my head. This morning, I check on a nearby eagle’s nest to see if she’s still there, keeping me in check…She is. “Boozhoo, kookum migiizii” — Hello, Grandmother Eagle.

The sky is dark and grey; typical for a November morning on Gitchigumee (Lake Superior).

I think of how I hardly feel the waves anymore, and how those who may have never been on the Big Lake, or haven’t been for some years, can “still feel the waves” for some time after coming off Lake Superior. I also think that I should always take more pictures or videos, as there are so many people that don’t get to appreciate what I get to every day.

There’s nothing like being on the Big Lake. It can be quite tiring. The fresh air doesn’t get to me like it used to; it doesn’t wear me out as much as it does those I take out. During the community Fish Derby, a 16-hour day is quite common.

I look out on the waters and see that they are pure lake water, green and blue. I can recall taking out youth from our multicultural centre and how they were completely amazed by the colours of Lake Superior: the shores, the huge waves, the shock from diving in. I forget what it’s like to see all this beauty for the first time.

There’s nothing like my life.

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