Big Basswood Lake, ON and Lake Michigan, USA - Sally Cole Misch

My Watermark is Big Basswood Lake in Northern Ontario and Lake Michigan.

I grew up spending my summers there in a log cabin my grandfather built, and it's about a mile from Lake Huron.

So once in awhile, we would go down to the lake and see the big waves and try to surf or sail them. But the wonderful thing about Big Basswood Lake is it's 400 feet deep and you can see 80 feet right of our dock.

So for me as a child I spent almost all my time in the Lake even though it was incredibly cold. I had a sense of calm and clarity about it because I could snorkel and see the fish interacting, and I actually saw loons once diving for fish. We'd catch Bass and Perch right off the dock.

It’s an example of being at peace and at one with nature on the island with my family. One magical experience I have was diving about 20 feet off some hard rock and finding some very old Mexican coins at the bottom. So lots of amazing memories growing up at the cottage.

We had this spot until my early 20's, then one day mother nature decided to have a huge thunderstorm and hit our cabin with lightning, and our cabin was gone in 20 minutes.

So my family kind of emigrated over to Lake Michigan where I now have the pleasure to build a relationship with the Lake Michigan, which has a totally different personality and body. There can be the largest storms, and the hugest waves, and my dog is out there prancing in the water, I still have that same sense of clarity to experience life on top or under the water.There's a sense of calm and connection.

I remember when my grandfather was alive we would sail Big Basswood Lake together and now when I sail with the large waves of Lake Michigan, I often feel overwhelmed that I'm not the sailor I need to be with those kind of winds, but i fell like I know what to do because he's there helping me.

Another thing I like to do is kayak from my place over to Sleeping Bear Dunes and see people climbing up and enjoying nature. About 3 years ago there were several ships that were going through our area at night, and the next day when I would kayak, I would find an incredible amount of garbage in the water.

One day I was out there for hours picking up all the plastic and paper. I went to reach for one and all of a sudden a head popped up; it was a guy swimming and I thought his swim cap was a piece of garbage. Terrified beyond words, I almost fell out of the kayak! But he was out there like me, experiencing the beauty of being in Lake Michigan.

Afterwards, we were able to go tot he city council, find out what was going on, and that whole problem of the garbage in our Sleeping Bear Bay has been eliminated. It was some cruise ships that were coming up from Chicago, and a couple transport ship from Chicago going up to the Mackinaw area, that were illegally dumping their garbage off their ships. We were able to identify it and stop it.

Claire Lawson
Sally Cole Misch

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