By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining Big Sea water…

Light in the forest

Thanks for the amazing support for yesterday’s story about My Enemy.  You readers know how to make this wanna-be storyteller feel good!

Today we’ll change the pace.

I’ll show you some pictures from a magical wonderful delightful hike that my son, Christopher, and I took last week.

Are you ready?  Let’s explore the shores of Gitche Gumee, or shining Big Sea Water, as Longfellow called our Lake Superior.

Christopher playing in the ferns. (I love it when his playing side comes out!)

First, we walked through deep primeval forest.

Electric greens surrounded us.

Our sneakers grew wet from soaking ferns and plants and grasses.

We exulted.

Chris had never hiked here before.

Chris in the tall ferns

I felt like a secret guide, showing him new places along the shores of Huron Bay.

We reveled in that feeling of newness, of exploration.

Deep green moss on cedar tree

I admired cedar trees as we walked.

I always admire cedars.

Aren’t you convinced that cedars hold secrets in their red exposed roots, in their mossy barks?

Haven’t you always wanted to sleep outside on cedar roots as a full moon rose?  You haven’t?

You might want to reconsider.

Red, red roots of cedar

Ahhh, here we are:  the lake!

Isn’t it grand, isn’t it majestic?

Doesn’t it expand forever like our hearts when we’re happy or delighted or joyful?

By the shores of Gitche Gumee

By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining big sea water, stood the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the moon Nokomis.

Son by the shores of Gitche Gumee

Dark behind it rose the forest, rose the black and gloomy pine trees, rose the firs with cones upon them.

Pebbled beach

Bright before it beat the water, beat the clear and sunny water, beat the shining Big Sea water.

Colorful stones

Oh, Hiawatha, we see you yet, in your cradle with grandmother Nokomis whispering, “Hush, the naked bear will hear thee.”  And grandma calls the baby, “My owlet” and decades later we sigh over Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem about Lake Superior and we still see Grandmother Nokomis when the moon is full and bright and Superior laps its shores, water becoming earth for a split second before withdrawing to its unfathomable depths.

Someone drew a circle with stones

In the meantime, Chris and I walked along Gitche Gumee.  The afternoon felt hushed.  It felt a magical place, indeed.

Courage to swim

Someone waded into the water, that courageous someone, while someone else lingered on shore with her trusty camera.  The picture-taker wished she would have the courage to swim.  Oh, how she wished this.

Where bald eagles nest

No bald eagles showed themselves.

A bright white tail feather showed itself.

Chris found it.

Natives say a white tail feather is a special gift from the Universe.

Chris picked it up, and left it among the tall grasses beside the lake.

Where bald eagle tail feathers fall

Flowers still bloom in early September.

Bloom while you can dear flower!

You know what approaches from the north, don’t you?

Enjoy your magnificence this day.

Where yellow flowers sing

You also, dear fern.

Many of your brothers and sisters turn yellow and brown.

You still gleam in the woods.

Gleam on.

Geese will soon honk overhead, winging south.

Where ferns shimmer in neon green

Guess who points the way to Gitchee Gumee?  Guess who guides the way north?

Yes, dear reader.

Two ceramic cats sit atop an electrical box, hitching a ride to paradise.

We took their photo but did not disturb them.

Life is magical, I tell you!

Who would dream that ceramic cats sit undisturbed upon an outdoor electrical box, pointing the way toward paradise, toward Gitche Gumee?  Who would dream it indeed?

Pink & blue cats guard the way to the secret peninsula…

And you, dear reader? When was your last walk on Mother Earth where you felt paradise as near as your next footstep?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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97 Responses to By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the shining Big Sea water…

  1. Lyn Leahz says:

    Wow! Amazing photos sis! They are absolutely beautiful! God bless you for sharing!

  2. John Kuttenberg says:

    Like born again Christian, Chris goes into the water to baptize himself again, reaffirming his faith in the spirit of the woods and water. It is in him, it runs through him. No matter where he goes, no matter how far, he will carry it with him.

    • Kathy says:

      Hmmm…John…dunno about this. But he reaffirms his faith in our north woods, in Lake Superior, I do believe. Wherever he goes, he takes our northwoods, our Lake Superior, with him.

      • monicadevine says:

        It is the same with my Christopher, Kathy. When he comes home to visit, he hikes and goes into the mountains; connects back to his boyhood. And when I go back to my Michigan home, I do the same…visit Marquette and the great Gitchee Gumee.

        • Kathy says:

          I didn’t know you had a Christopher, too, Monica. My gosh we do have some things in common. And did you know we almost moved to Alaska in our early years? Yes, it’s true…

  3. Brenda Hardie says:

    Beautiful pictures Kathy!!! I love them! What a wonderful adventure for you and your son. The forest looks indeed like a lost world…a paradise. And of course the lake is my favorite lake, but you know that already. 🙂 I did not grow up along the shores of Gitche Gumee but it sure feels like home whenever I’ve been there and even when I see pictures I can feel it calling to my soul. There must be a way for me to get back! ♥

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Brenda! It felt like one of those perfect paradise afternoons. I am glad you have a love affair with Lake Superior going on. It loves you, too. I just asked and it said (it a wavy type voice): Tell Brenda to come back some time soon. Tell her to come swimming in me. 🙂

  4. What a beautiful post, with Longfellow’s wonderful poem taking part in this special time with your son. Thank you for sharing!

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Cindy. It was fun to share this special afternoon with all of you. I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to fit these photos in a post.

  5. This was totally mesmerizing for me; I don’t know why but I felt like I walked along with “thee”.

  6. “Aren’t you convinced that cedars hold secrets in their red exposed roots, in their mossy barks?”

    Yes ma’am, I am. Absolutely convinced!

  7. Karen says:

    What a wonderful post with lovely photos. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Reggie says:

    I am speechless. What a lovely, enchanting post, Kathy. You are blessed to live in this special place.

  9. lisaspiral says:

    What a fun way to remember a great day with your son. There is folklore that says that ferns will make you invisible. Looking at your photos I see why. Now I’m going to have to reread the poem, maybe under a full moon.

  10. Lake Superior Woods are much like those here on the beaches of Lake Winnipeg, except I think you have more cedars there. Your photos are breathtaking and make me long for long walks at the cottage of yesteryear. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      We have cedars in certain places, withershins. In other places, not so much. I like the cedar groves, though. Glad you enjoyed these photos. I don’t take the camera along so much these days, but it’s fun to share this beauty with others.

  11. some of these commenters are deep – I have nothing deep to say–but enjoyed your hike

  12. Susan D. says:

    Ahhhhhh …. (heart).

  13. Val says:

    My fave pic is the lake – wow! All that area of water and reflections of sky and the air and, and… and. 🙂

  14. Heather says:

    It looks like you and Christopher had a nice time 🙂 Where did your swimming courage go? That lake was perfectly placid! (Says the girl who hasn’t been swimming since she last said she MUST go.)
    I also adore cedars. They are majestic. I think they’d fit right into Fangorn Forest.

  15. Celeste says:

    I so miss the north. And I know why you lacked the courage to swim in Gitchee Gummi in September!

    • Kathy says:

      Like I told Heather, Celeste, I might have considered if a bathing suit was along on the trip. But it would take some courage. Even Chris was a little shocked by the water temp! And it’s supposed to have been a warm summer for the lake.

  16. Elisa's Spot says:

    Ahhhhhhhh…moments of enjoyment! 🙂

  17. shieram says:

    Beatiful pictures Kathy. What a way to spend quality time with your son and nature. 🙂

  18. sybil says:

    I could hear the beat of the poem. It lives somewhere in my memory. I anticipated the next line, even though the words eluded me … It felt good to remember.

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, I had to look up the words to the poem. I love the beginning of the poem, but then it gets perhaps a little more choppy as the poem continues. Kind of like the lake, yes?

  19. Beautiful photos. I felt like I was walking along with you and your son.

  20. Sara says:

    The Great Lakes are indeed spectacular and breath-taking. I once swam in Lake Superior – I can still feel the pain of that cold. Wonderful photos again, Kathy – thanks for sharing!

    • Kathy says:

      You can still feel the pain of the cold, Sara? LOL! Seriously, I can still remember the last time I swam in the Big Lake. Very frightening. Will do so again one of these days–should have been this summer due to the warm temps–but it didn’t happen.

  21. My best walks so far are still in the mind. Someday, I’ll walk on my dream lands and experience my thoughts. Lovely pictures and beautiful way of presenting stories. Keep up the good work.

    • Kathy says:

      You shall indeed walk on your dream lands, teeceecounsel. I have utter faith in your dreams. Glad you enjoyed the pictures and stories. Thanks for visiting!

  22. susanblake says:

    Oh Kathy, those photos made me long to be back in the Northwoods. I think it’s very “telling” that I am homesick for it all though supposedly I AM home – this suburban scene gets harder to tolerate each year. As my friend in Eagle River says “The transformation is almost complete!” Indeed!

    • Kathy says:

      Maybe you’ll be able to move to the northwoods permanently some day, SuZen? Shall we hope? The cedars and pines and hemlocks and maples are dreaming you back north…

  23. rehill56 says:

    I love all the photos but especially Chris by the water. Such a nice time of memories for you both.

  24. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    _______ <—- Insert favorite superlative here. As for me, most days at work I make a point of strolling the trails at the nature center. Yeah, it's my workplace, but it really is as close to a natural paradise as I'm going to find in Lansing, and really is about my favorite place to be. I thank God/Allah/Mother Nature every day for that place. But I know Lake Superior has its share of magic too.

    We're both pretty fortunate, when you get down to it.

    • Kathy says:

      You work at a nature center in the Lansing area? Have I read that and forgotten it so quickly? I LOVE that you gave so many beautiful names for the divine in your comment. We are pretty fortunate to live in this gorgeous state, and that we appreciate the gifts of nature. Thanks, Sid.

  25. Kerry Dwyer says:

    ‘Courage to swim’ is an amazing photo. You really do take a nice photo Kathy. Chapeau

  26. Munira says:

    Each photo was breathtaking….and you do weave a wonderful story m’dear 🙂

  27. dawnkinster says:

    Love Chris playing in the ferns and “son by the water” …what great clouds you had for your hike! Wonderful photos…I love that he loves to do things like this with his Mom. That’s so special.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh it was fun when we stopped to play in the ferns, Dawn! I am so glad he let me use that picture. He always tries to do something special with Barry and me when he’s home. He went fishing this his dad. He’s a good kid.

  28. Barb says:

    I really love your awesome photos Kathy. Great to have Chris home to enjoy the magical day with you.

    • Kathy says:

      This post reminded me of the ones you usually share, Barb! It was a wonderful time with him…and the wedding in San Diego approaches closer all the time…

  29. Karma says:

    Thank you for taking us along on this lovely walk. I love the photo of Chris’s head poking above the ferns! It was about a month ago now when I last felt so close to paradise – when I walked the beach in Maine.

    • Kathy says:

      Isn’t that a neat photo, Karma? I love it when our kids play a bit–AND allow me to use the picture in the blog! I had such a fun photo of K and her boyfriend playing around with the wheelbarrow but I was *sob* forbidden to use it. Bet you are missing those Maine beaches now that school has started up again.

  30. Takes me back to a family trip we took, driving to Vermont. The kids decided on a mission to “swim in” (as in “enter at least shin deep”) all the Great Lakes. We even altered our route to accommodate this. Lake Superior definitely has a look all it’s own, the most untamed of the lot.

    • Kathy says:

      They swam in all the Great Lakes, Inger? How cool! (Ha ha, downright chilly in some of them, I bet!) Would love to dip toes in Ontario and Erie some day. Your kids had a good idea.

      • Before we did Lake Erie (which had probably the nicest beach of all), we called my mother and chatted about our plans and she said “Noooooo, don’t swim in Lake Erie” remembering the days when it was feared beyond reclamation. Luckily better days!

  31. Caroll says:

    It has been a very long time since I have heard reference to the “shores of Gitchee Gummee”. Your words and your photos – your paradise – priceless! My paradise is just around the coner, on my front deck, in my imagination – paradise is where you want it to be.

  32. dearrosie says:

    I think this is my all-time favorite of all your posts Kathy. So glad I didn’t miss it. (It’s unfortunate but I’m not able to keep up with your daily posts ….)

    There is so much love here. Love for a son, love for nature – ferns trees lake eagles nests – love for a lake and Hiawatha and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s brilliant poem which I haven’t heard in so long. 🙂
    Your photos captured it all. Love the one’s with your soon-to-be-married-but-still-a-kid-at heart-son playing in the ferns, and swimming, and the two with the stones.

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad you liked this, Rosie. And that you felt the love in the photos and words–and that the love came back to move your heart. (Don’t worry about keeping up with all my posts, ever. Actually, you seem to be doing a good job. Lately have been only posting 3-4 a week or whenever the Universe moves.)

  33. Joanne says:

    Oh Kathy, The Universe is wishing Christopher well, with the white feather!! I wish him well too. 🙂 Was there a song about Gitche Gumee in the early 1970’s? A hit song? I seem to remember something, but can’t quite…but what an area this is! So magical, so beautiful. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Joanne, that is a good thought about the Universe wishing Christopher well. I certainly wish him well! He has always had a knack for finding eagle feathers. Once, years ago, I wanted to find an eagle feather so bad and had looked and looked and looked with no results. He wanted to go out fasting for a day at age 12 and at the end of the day he looked down at his feet and there was an eagle feather. Magic! (Later it became easy for me to find feathers, but not in those early years.)

      • Joanne says:

        I wonder if Christopher realised the way to manifest anything he wanted back then, (which reminds me of your post about manifesting guinea hens!) I found the song I mentioned. It’s by Neil Diamond and was written for his son, Jesse, and has nothing at all to do with your Gitche Gumee at all! The song is here ~ I’m going to have to read up on the story of Hiawatha now, as I’ve become very interested in the whole background of Gitche Gumee! 🙂

  34. Stacy Lyn says:

    I could see Nokomis’s wigwam right there on the edge of the water. I love Longfellow – thanks for showing us pictures to illustrate his words. ❤

  35. Stunning pictures of an enchanted forest.

    My paradise is underneath my feet daily.

  36. Marianne says:

    Oh, so lovely to spend time in nature with your son, Kathy. This is such a precious post! Wonderful photos as well. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  37. Connie T says:

    Beautiful photos and a wonderful day.

  38. You have beautifully captured some of the magic of our big freshwater pond 🙂 and its surroundings! ~ Kat B.

  39. Robin says:

    Ahhhh…. I’m not sure what to say/write. I feel renewed and refreshed by this post. (Did you hear that big sigh of release and relaxation as I was reading and looking at your photos?)

  40. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I enjoyed this so much. I didn’t realize you had so many ferns in your forest, and red cedar. Magnificent trees! Fine son! And lovely memories to share.

    • Kathy says:

      Colleen, I am glad that I included this in the blog, then. We do have many ferns. Cedar only in certain places. And sons–only some of the time with us. Hugs! Glad you enjoyed.

  41. What a beautiful walk!
    Those two cats are adorable….they look like birdhouses??

    • Kathy says:

      Oh good, I’m glad you saw this post! I thought you might like all the pictures. 🙂 I was good and brought my camera. No, they aren’t birdhouses. They are just ceramic cats sitting on an electrical box on the way to Point Abbaye. Did you drive out to the Point? I think everyone is afraid to get too closed to the electrical box and steal the ceramic cats. That MUST be the reason they’re still undisturbed!

  42. Carol says:

    How many verses did we memorize for Mrs. Story? What poem did you recite at the program? I had a dream about you and the poem Abou Ben Adam, strange…. Do you remember what I recited? When can I come over to your house? So many questions and I have many more!

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, I always count on YOU to remember the details of our childhood! Your memory is such a gift, for I barely remember so much. You can come over to my house right now. We shall recite Abou Ben Adam and drink coffee and remember so many stories. You shall remember them and I shall write them down! I am half tempted to write a blog post about Abou Ben Adam. 🙂

  43. Carol says:

    Kathy, You should! It seems to me though, that your the one with a good memory…I would really enjoy coming over. Someday, we will work it out.

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