Lake Superior Creature Fairy Tale

Lake Superior iceberg

In the old days, older than the oldest days, long before you drew your first ragged breath, long before your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother drew her first ragged and tentative breath–that’s when this story begins.

In the bottom of Lake Superior lived a creature, a dark and dismal creature, a creature born of the moon’s shadow and icy headwinds and lake trout fins.

This creature roamed the bottom of your world, oh reader, like a daemon or shadow or almost-forgotten energy sweeping between pine and spruce beaches.  It still lives in you now, but I am skipping ahead of its finned twisting and turning.

This creature, this underwater bottom feeder, this cold-water silver beauty, inched along sand and silt and rock feeding for its life among smelt and minnows and the blood of forgotten dreams.

Lake trout fin

Oh, you have seen him in dreams, haven’t you?  Where you’re shaken awake from deep peaceful slumber out of the arms of your beloved life into fear, into not-knowing, into an instinct to survive the lake’s deepest depths? Don’t be afraid to admit this.  I’ve seen him, too, oh reader, and cried tears enough to fill this deepest lake.

The Creature.  Oh, how it ruins all your pretty plans and ideals.  Where you intend to turn left, it veers right.  Where you aim to veer up toward air and sunlight, it dives down toward darkness and endless night.

An Ojibwa woman once asked me if I knew about the creature who lived at the bottom of Lake Superior.  I said no.  I still don’t know what creature she talked about.  But I know about This Creature.

And–if you don’t know about this one–you’ll know about one of your own that lives in Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean  the Black River, the Little Bitty Stream.  Perhaps even the tiny sprout of water through the ravine behind your house.  Perhaps even in your septic system.  Because, my dear and faithful reader, we can’t avoid the mythic creatures, can we?

Mike's lake trout--it's a keeper

The Creature is the energy that lives in the basement of us humans.  That which denies rationality and reasonability.  It isn’t sensible.  It isn’t logical.  It moves of an undulating rhythm all its own.  It rides waves.  It moves beneath ice.  It survives in ungodly conditions.  It lives, oh it lives, and it feeds upon all our undigested energies.

Please don’t ask me to describe what the creature does.  It gets angry when we don’t want to get angry.  It hates.  It destroys.  It watches porn.  It medicates through drugs, alcohol, smoking.  It judges, how it judges.  It slaps and punches and induces sly insults.  It creates enemies.  It is always discerning how different the “other” is from us.  It hates this politician and that.  It hates best friends, should they move astray from our values.  Everything we despise about ourselves–that’s who this creature is.  That’s his cold-water blood.

The creature is our underground daemon.  He’s whispered of to small children in their fairy tale childhood:  less you stray, dear babe, the creature will eat you for breakfast and spit out your bones.  If you wander away from your tribe–too close to the waterside–it will pull you down underwater, down, down, down, into the depths of what can’t be described, what can’t be imagined, what can’t be told except with frozen icicle tears as November approaches in its wild anguish of waves and destruction.

Implements of destruction or creation?

But I can’t end this story here, leaving you stranded with your icicle tears.  I can’t leave you with no hope.  Because something is stronger than that underground creature.  Something lives in the light that others hail God, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha, the Great Spirit.  They claim that if we just believe–if our belief is strong enough, hardy enough, waterproof enough, loving enough–that we’ll be saved from the creature’s pike-sharp teeth, from its slicing silver fins, from its abilities to lure children into the depths.

Some will say that good triumphs over evil, but I am not here to tell this tale that way, even though–who knows?–it may be true.

In this tale, the child is mouthed underwater by the creature and thinks itself dead, forgotten, iced over, black, gone.

But the Great Goddess Spring arrives with its green wings, with its flowered halo, with its forget-me-knot necklace and dives deep into the cold Lake Superior waters warming it as it flies down, down, down past the melting ice, past the surface fish, into the rock-bottom silt and glacier plunge.

Stream-bubble creature lives for a moment only...

The Great Goddess Spring does not hate, does not decry, does not demonize.  She wraps her loving arms around the creature of us all–the deep bottom feeder of the lake–the siren that calls our lost ones–and guides that creature up, up, up,  to the rivers to spawn, to lay pink eggs, to come home to the life at the center.

The child comes home with the creature and is born anew to bring fish to the People.  Out of death comes life.  Out of life comes food.  Out of our despair comes hope.

This is my fairy tale for you today, all you hurting ones carried around underwater by what seems to be the creature of destruction.

Have faith, dear ones.  Spring is coming. The ice is melting.  The fish are turning toward the rivers.  Lo and behold, do not blink or you’ll miss the miracle of it all.

Spring buds on the maple trees

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.
This entry was posted in April, 2019 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Lake Superior Creature Fairy Tale

  1. Carol says:

    Perhaps because of what’s going on in this world, perhaps it’s just my mindset, but I saw and heard many undertones in your fairy tale – undertones that were less fairy tale and more history. I hope spring truly can birth hope, worldwide. I hope spring can bring if not love, at least tolerance – diminishing hate and pettiness. I hope all of our eyes, hearts, ears, and minds can be opened to the real truth – not our own truth, but the real truth, and that more than just the grasses will green.

    • Kathy says:

      I am glad you heard so many undertones in this fairy tale, Carol. And I love your deep wishes for love, tolerance and real truth. Beautiful comment…

  2. KayDee says:

    After reading your beautiful poem/fairy tale, I said to myself, “And you want to write a blog?”

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Kathy, You asked for advice the other day about starting your blog, and here is my #1 advice. Whenever your mind starts comparing yourself to anyone in the blogging world–don’t believe it. Because you have something unique to share, something that no one else in the whole wide deep Lake Superior can share. Only you can share your precious experience of living exactly where you do. (Plus, I can assure you, not everyone wants to read fairy tales. A LOT of other people would prefer seeing pictures or hearing stories of what you’re perceiving. I can guarantee some of my readership were rolling their eyes skyward wondering why the heck I couldn’t just post “real” pictures and stories about life along Lake Superior’s shore.) Sincerely, Another Kathy

  3. This is a wonderful post. I need to go read it again! Thank you!

  4. Lovely! You’re right, I have sensed it, felt it, feared it. And you pulled this story ’round just perfectly. “…do not blink or you’ll miss the miracle of it all.” Indeed!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, you should have seen it. I started typing without having much of an idea where the fairy tale wanted to go. (Only a small snippet which was given on the way to Houghton yesterday morning.) About three quarters of the way through I was almost impatient, ready to discard the darn thing, as I couldn’t even figure out how this fairy tale could turn out anything but wretched. But you know how fairy tales can be…at the very last minute Hansel and Gretel can push the old witch into the oven and run away to freedom. Thank YOU!

  5. sherrysescape says:

    I loved this one, Kathy – it spoke to me 🙂

  6. Ally Bean says:

    A lovely tale well told. Thanks for bringing to life the darker thoughts that come with late winter. With spring comes the hope we all deserve– if we pay attention to what’s going on around us.

    • Kathy says:

      Ally Bean, I do love fairy tales for bringing to light the darkness that winter may harbor. To illuminate the many sides of us. May we all continue to pay attention to all those sides, indeed. Blessings!

  7. debyemm says:

    That was a beautiful weaving of myth and mysticism. The seasons are so precious, they deserve the honor. That ancient energy Eckhart Tolle called the Pain Body. I’ve seen it more than once, overlaid ordinary human beings and I’ve seen also how it behaves. It is not contained and can infiltrate anyone in alignment with its energies. Happy Spring – I heard a turkey gobbling, a dove cooing and a whippoorwill doing that – all yesterday afternoon and early evening. Oh yeah, a cricket frog shaking the glass balls too.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, yes, a good analogy from Eckhart Tolle. The pain body who lives within all of us. Who insists upon all sorts of “atrocities” just to placate its endless desires. How it wants to avoid pain. How it will feed upon so many things in order to avoid…alas, yes, we humans know it well. As for what a cricket frog shaking glass balls may be–I have no clue! Thank you for sharing a bit of your spring nature-life here.

  8. Barb says:

    Darkness and light in words and in photos. I’m cheering for the light. (But if there are no shadows, would light be quite as noticable?)

  9. Susan D. Durham says:

    This made me cry deep healing tears. So wild and beautiful and powerful. A masterpiece, dear friend.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my dear Susan D…thank you from the bottom of this lake’s heart. Tears even! I was so honored to watch this come forth from the typing fingers. Had no idea at all how it was going to turn out. And then it wrapped itself into spring blossoms. Who knew? I so appreciate how much you appreciate this.

  10. Alanna says:

    Lovely post….

  11. Robin says:

    I love this, Kathy. ❤ I'm trying to think of other words, of something else to add to my comment, but only the word Love comes to mind.

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, I was thinking how in the world I might comment on a post like this. Absolutely nothing came to mind! Thank you for loving it. That means everything–to the creature, to the spring goddess and to me. (Who might be one and the same, smile.) I am off today for my adventure!

  12. Your fairy tale is as real as the cold is freezing, as a whale is humungous, as a knife is sharp. In other words, your fairy tale is like the ones of old that hit with a mallet, not a soft scarf. Your fairy tale is like the ones of old, where a message sits within the words that are supposedly written for children, but are truly written for us all. BEWARE, the tale tells, but also, BE AWARE that there is evil in the world, but good can overcome it, good can lighten the dark, good can bring Spring after every Winter. I LOVED it, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      And I love YOU! Can’t type long because am headed out the door for an adventure that will lead me south and east on the wings of pelicans and aeroplanes. I will eventually get as close to you as we’ve been, but we shall not see each other this fine adventure. May soft scarfs and not hard mallets surround us these mild spring days. xoxoxo

  13. Steven Lundy says:

    Oh man, it is so cool to stumble into this. I didn’t just grow up in the Upper Peninsula, I grew up in Aura, and just read a piece that mentioned a certain “two-room schoolhouse” I attended as a child. I am a transplant to Alaska, and this morning I am sitting down to contemplate exactly why it makes sense for a Yooper to be here. It is so similar, yet so different!

    • Kathy says:

      Steven Lundy, I totally remember you from the Arvon School. And I knew that you and your family had moved to Alaska, and that you are still a friend of Zach’s (I think). So glad you stumbled upon my blog and that you took the time to make such a great comment. We are headed over to the Aura Hall for a high school graduation party in a few minutes. Wondering if you are in contact with Chris Ford up there? Anyway, thanks again for reaching out. Kathy

      • Steven L says:

        Yes m’am, I’ve spoken with Chris several times on Facebook about his adventures in the Mat Su Valley, but unfortunately due to considerable distance between us I haven’t yet been able to get him to the house for a cup of coffee. Zach and I are still close; he is actually the guy my fiancee and I chose to perform our marriage ceremony in November!

        • Kathy says:

          So happy to hear that Zach performed your marriage ceremony. How cool is that?! My kids are still connected with some of their Arvon friends and I find that so cool. Hope you get to see Chris Ford one of these fine days up there in Alaska.

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