Lake SuperiorThe sun pulsed in the clear blue sky, heating Anna’s back as she picked her way carefully across the rugged terrain. She searched for the safest route every time she paused. Cliffs, crevasses, and shifting rocks waited patiently for unwary travelers. Another hundred yards brought her to the edge of a steep drop off. She unpacked her rappelling gear and secured the lines. Before dropping down into the shadows she stood and scanned the horizon, shading her eyes with one hand.

As she gazed out across the lifeless expanse, it was hard to imagine this entire valley had once been filled with crystal clear water. She stood on the floor of what used to be one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, yet there was not a drop of water in sight. It had been purchased, bottled, distributed; the entire lake emptied in less than a decade.

Anna’s grandparents used to tell her stories about summer days spent at the beach, relaxing in the sand as waves crashed against the shore. They would splash and play in the ice-cold water without a care in the world. Then, in their final years, they had watched the water level fall year after year until it was gone.

As she walked herself backward down the face of the sheer rock wall, her dry throat begged for a sip of liquid. Saliva filled Anna’s mouth whenever she imagined taking a drink of the clear, cold refreshment which once seemed an inexhaustible resource. The water in her ration container would be warm already. Besides, she dare not take a drink any earlier than scheduled or her supply would never last. She had to make it past the mines to one of the few stretches which had not yet been purchased. A place where copper, maybe even a vein of gold, could be still be found and retrieved by the most daring souls. Soon there would be nothing left but ravaged land and bittersweet memories.

The End

This is a very brief snapshot of one potential reality for The Great Lakes which surround my home state. I hope it forever remains fictitious. What do you think?



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4 Responses to Desolation

  1. ddfalvo says:

    Could you just imagine what could be found at the bottom of that lake? But, (shudders) if Lake MI ever went dry, I think that might be the end of us–can’t even begin to imagine it. Great idea and writing, Nicole! You stretched my brain this morning with your inspiring story. :)

    • Nicole says:

      I googled images of the topography of the floors of The Great Lakes in order to get some sense of what it might look like without water, and it was still really hard for me to picture. I genuinely hope nothing like this ever becomes a reality but, unfortunately, I can imagine a point where fresh water is in such demand globally, and so hard to come by, that it would be tough to let such a vital resource sit there unused in some way. I’m glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting!

  2. Sorry I missed this last week. Dwelling on the thought leaves the ghost of an ache in my chest. What an evocative idea! Great job, as always.

    Ready for spring? I hope you and the family are healthy, and surviving winter’s (hopefully) last gasp well!

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for reading, Vaughn! Can you imagine standing on the shore of one of the Great Lakes and not seeing any water? *shudder*

      I am so ready for spring. I typically enjoy winter, even all the snow, but it’s been so cold that we’ve hardly been able to get outside. That is not fun. I’m hoping March is at least in the twenties (above zero!). I hope you are doing well and still able to get out and enjoy your walks.

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