If you’re looking for one book to help you understand the Great Lakes, spend some time with The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas (2003) by Jerry Dennis. The writer, who lives near Traverse City, shares his adventures on Lakes Michigan, Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, including sailing the tall ship Malabar from Lake Michigan to Bar Harbor, Maine.
He begins, “To appreciate the magnitude of the Great Lakes you must get close to them. Launch a boat on their waters or hike their beaches or climb the dunes, bluffs, and rocky promontories that surround them and you wil see, as people have seen since the age of glaciers, that these lakes are pretty damned big. It’s no wonder they’re sometimes upgraded to ‘Inland Seas’ and ‘Sweetwater Seas.’ Calling them lakes is like calling the Rockies hills. Nobody pretends they compare to the Atlantic or Pacific, but even the saltiest saltwater mariners have been surprised to discover that the lakes contain a portion of ocean fury.”
His appreciation and knowledge of and respect for the massive bodies of fresh water come through in his every adventure, on every page. The Living Great Lakes has received numerous honors including recognition as a “2004 Michigan Notable Book” by the Library of Michigan, and ranks as one of the best-selling nonfiction books at more than one Michigan bookstore.
Dennis, who writes about nature, canoeing, fishing and other experiences in the great outdoors was named Michigan Author of the Year by the Michigan Library Association in 1999, and received the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award in 2003 from the University of Louisville’s School of Arts and Sciences.
Check out the Jerry Dennis website, where you’ll find links to purchase his books. Next on my list, The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, his reflections on spending the snowy season on Lakes Michigan and Superior.