A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
Lake Michigan and the supply of water are again much in the news. I readily acknowledge my ignorance of the substantive detail, factors, and issues that constitute this public policy debate. But what seems obvious is that the adequate supply of fresh water is a long term, regional problem. And if that be true, then one might suggest that the demand for water should be part of any complete evaluation of the matter. I believe that no policy will be complete until we as citizens - individual by individual and family by family - begin to develop a respect for this vital resource. And in order to do that, perhaps it might help to look at Lake Michigan as more than just a reservoir.
This summer my family again vacationed on the N.W. shores of the Lake. Over the course of ten days we circled the entire Lake, hugging the shore every mile. It was a trek of 945 miles, leaving little wonder as to why the Lakes are called, "Great". Up through Wisconsin, over the State line and through one of the loveliest streets in all of America - First Street in Menominee, Michigan. Driving through hundreds of square miles of Hiawatha National Forest, all while realizing that a short hike due north of High Way 2, one would see little evidence that man has ever trod the planet. I gave up counting the endless series of rivers, streams, creeks, and estuaries that fed the mighty body of water, and only marveled that despite their number, each was unique. Our kids thrilled at their first sight of "Big Mac" - Mackinac - the longest suspension bridge in the world. We looked up to the majestic spires of its twin towers, their peaks standing five hundred feet about the surface of the water. We stared down two hundred feet from the surface of the bridge, down upon the Strait that separates two of the four largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Nothing but dazzlingly blue water stretched out as far as we could see, until the surface and the horizon joined in one inseparable line.