Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Birthday Essay

Avalanche chute on route to Hart Lake
Essay: from the French word: essayer "to try" or "to attempt"--

I live in a valley shadowed by mountains, in a village covered in snow, heated by wood, and powered by a creek.  In the darkest days of winter, we get less than an hour of sunlight: a sliver of time when light pours over Copper Basin and onto Holden Village.  I haven’t seen dirt or smelled earth since November.  In January, my chalet had no hot water for almost a week.  One of my housemates began to boil water in a tea kettle to rinse the shampoo from her hair.  I’ve never lived anywhere where people experience winter so much.  We bask in snow and stillness, light and dark.  We lean into the season and watch the way our valley changes shape in snow.

Last Friday, my friend Philip and I woke early to watch the sunrise.  We carried thermoses of hot chocolate and back-packs full of blankets and hiked up to the third level of the old Holden Mine.  We flattened a patch of snow where two trails intersected and sat on my sleeping pad.  From our position on the tailings, Holden looked like one those ceramic Christmas villages: painted buildings with lamp lit windows and snow-heaped roofs.  We watched our breath billow and talked about the lives we had before coming to the Cascades and the lives we imagined afterward.  Fog rolled above the village.  A martin skittered across the snow.  We saw the first patches of pink slivering the clouds on our way back to the dining hall for oatmeal.

There are times in my life when I sense the importance of everything I experience, when I know that the day I’m living is one that I’ll look back upon, when I feel nostalgic about moments as they unfold.  Over the past three weeks I’ve spent most of my lunch breaks picnicking in the snow: perched on a piece of cardboard or a five gallon bucket, eating soup and salad with my face turned toward the sun.  I’ve drank a beer in the snow with a friend under stars so bright we didn’t need headlamps to hike to the second level.  I’ve build bonfires and gone to bed smelling like smoke and soot.  I’ve gone winter camping beside Railroad Creek. I’ve woken to the sound of river water rushing in a landscape muffled by snow.  I’ve lived in proximity to people brave enough to share their lives—friends who remind me to lean into both my past and present.

Last week I hiked to Big Creek with seven women—women I love for their strength and sure-footedness, for their humor and vulnerability.  We carried packs full of water and winter clothes, shovels, snow shoes, and avalanche beacons.  We walked through the snow laughing and singing, pausing to photograph snow bridges and cougar tracks.  We picnicked in a patch of cedar trees beside an avalanche chute.  We shared apples, cheese, banana chips, and salmon.  We sat in the snow swapping stories for almost an hour, before we began back down the mountain, retracing our route in a series of downhill slides, belly laughing when one of us landed in powder.
The weekend I turned twenty-six I drove to Portland by myself and stayed at a hostel with a green roof and gray-water toilets.  I cooked kale and quinoa in the hostel kitchen, wandered the poetry section of Powell’s Books, and went to a Breathe Owl Breathe concert.  I stood near the stage and read Where Shall I Wander by John Ashbery between sets.  I hiked Table Mountain, using maps I printed from a backpacking website.  Ice still slicked the scree slide I needed to take to the summit so I stopped short of the final ascent.  Wind whipped my hair and face.  I kept my body low, in the shadow of the rock-faces before descending to a more sheltered spot to picnic on hardboiled eggs, apples, and chocolate.

At the time I considered the trip a kind of vision quest.  I wanted to walk, to cook, to pause, to reflect, to feel out the future.  So I traveled solo and left myself space for silence.  Since that weekend, I’ve had to restart, to re-evaluate--to look at myself through a critical lens that made it painful to keep living the life I saw.  I’ve untethered myself from people and places.  I ended two relationships and deleted a number from my phone.  Some days I trace the changes I’ve undergone to a trip I took to the Two Hearted River with my brother, other days I attribute it to changing jobs or moving to Holden.

On Thursday, January 31st, my twenty-seventh birthday, I will have lived in Holden for five months.  I moved here August 31st, after weeks of driving cross country, after stopping in Illinois and Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington--after roasting s’mores with my friend Amanda on her porch in Chicago, climbing trees with my former professor’s children in Grinnell, playing board games at my friend Bekah’s newly purchased farmhouse in Ames, and discussing the relationship between vocation and social justice with Sister Helen Prejean at a monastery in the Big Horn Mountains.

I came to Holden Village because I wanted to live a simple life in the Cascade Mountains.  I wanted to take short showers and eat kale every Friday.  I wanted to hike until my legs ached—to pound a rhythm into my shins and my soul.  But over the past five months I’ve learned as much about lavishness as I have about simplicity.  I’ve learned to wake early to watch morning light break across the mountains and I’ve learned to stay wrapped in flannel sheets, basking in my nest of quilts and blankets until I hear the breakfast bell ring.  I’ve learned to put my face in the sun when it shines, claiming a lunch space on the loading dock or a sun spot in the dining hall.  I’ve learned to dress up in costumes when the mood strikes, to sing when a song drifts through my head, to dance when music plays: jumping and bobbing my head like a Charlie Brown character, shedding my self-consciousness like skin that no longer fits.
Usually I don’t like celebrating my birthday.  I worry that the people I love won’t remember me and the implied significance of the day often leaves me disappointed.  But this year, as I creep toward January 31th, I'm excited about turning twenty-seven.  I find myself reflecting on what it means to be in my late twenties, only three years away from thirty.  As a kid I imagined growing up to be a writer and a nomad, a teacher, a traveler, and a mountain women and I’m grateful to have gotten this far into adulthood without losing track of those aspirations.  I’m grateful for the money my parents contributed to my college education, for the scholarships that got me through graduate school, for the collection of strange but fulfilling jobs I’ve held and the dozens of things they’ve taught me about myself as a teacher and a student, a learner and a writer.  I’m grateful to be here at Holden, working in such a supportive community, in a setting that still leaves me slack-jawed every time I see the mountain peaks that shadow our village.
Dozens of postcards and pictures cover my bedroom wall: notes from family, friends, ex-boyfriends, and former professors, from the children I nannied for and the kids I teach.  I hang cards I especially like with the text side showing, so I can re-read my favorite phrases--lines about building Lego creations and the dangers of love and distance, about abandoned buildings in Iowa, and the first snap of winter in November.  This week I tacked a Christmas card from my friend Brenna to a blank space beneath my calendar, underlining her wish for me for the upcoming year--that you keep moving when you need to keep moving and that you are still in the moments when you need to be still.  I hope 2013 brings you creativity and fulfillment…steadiness and peace.

In this slice of valley between mountains, movement and stillness can mean strapping on Yaktrax to grip the slushy snow or spending an evening on the living room floor, with my computer on my knees and my back to the radiator.  It can mean staying in this place, in this life, or starting again in another job, another community.

Last Friday night, my friend Scott and I hiked to the second level of the Holden mine.  Like me, Scott is in his late twenties.  We talked about what it meant to abandon our regular lives to live at Holden Village and the ways we’ve changed since coming to this place.  We talked about the rhythms we live here and the ways we want to replicate them once we leave this mountain valley.  Then we silenced.  We stood on a road paved by snow and stared at Bonanza, one of the highest peaks of Washington, snow-capped and back-lit by moon.  Cold flushed our cheeks.  We watched our breath freeze--and under the dome of stars and sky, we let all our questions about the future fall.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I led a vespers at Holden on Monday--I wanted to post my reflection from the service: 

At twenty-four years old I met a man from Belgium on the beach in Paradise, Michigan. We found each other journaling on the shores of Lake Superior and stayed near the water till almost midnight, watching the Whitefish Point lighthouse light comb the sand. We swatted mosquitoes and listened to the lake lap the shoreline. We talked about reading and writing, food and families, mythology and loneliness. He was traveling around Lake Michigan, visiting sites from Hemingway’s short stories. We exchanged e-mail addresses and met up the next day to hike the limestone cliffs lining Lake Superior. We picnicked on rosemary bread and Laughing Cow cheese on the beach and kissed on the Pictured Rocks boat tour in front of tourists wearing ponchos. Later that month I bought a bus ticket to meet him for a weekend Chicago, and on sidewalk lined by skyscrapers, the Belgian man and I talked about religion, one of the few topics we hadn’t touched. He told me, that he didn’t believe in God, he believed in philosophy. And for the first time since we met, that stubbled man seemed less shiny. I felt myself distance. I pulled away, suddenly objectifying the person I’d been so smitten with. 

In so many ways, my reaction made no sense. I hadn’t been to church in six months. I’d spent my Sundays running on the trails near my house or in my bedroom, bent over books of religion and philosophy, books by John Muir, Dorothy Day, Soren Kierkegaard, Simone Weil. I didn’t want to commit to doctrine. I didn’t know what I thought about heaven or hell or church or God. But the Belgian man’s sure flat voice left no room for narrative, no space for mystery. 

Mystery. It’s a word I love—a word that connotes something secret or hidden--something incomprehensible. When my friend Marissa worked as a nanny, Vinnie, the four year old boy she babysat, misplaced the hockey puck he spent all day hitting up and down the hallway. A significant loss. They searched everywhere. Finally, he looked at her, Where is it? I don’t know, she said, it’s a mystery. 

Eventually, Marissa found the lost puck in the backyard and from that point forward, whenever Vinnie lost something he asked Marissa if they could check the mystery for it. I heard Marissa’s story in a bar in Iowa, over a bottle of Bell’s beer and a basket of buttered popcorn. We laughed. The mystery. It became a place rather than a concept. Vinnie put a picture to the secret. He made it sensory. 

Three years after parting with the Belgian man, mystery defines my sense of spirituality more than grace or faith or abstract notions of salvation. My first year graduate school, I left church because I could not rationalize heaven and hell. I could not explain God or justify the way I saw people who claimed him behaving. As the one of the only Christians in a graduate program full of people who cared more deeply about stories and social justice than most of the religious people I knew, I struggled to see how the friends I had fit into the theology I knew. So I worked to form myself into someone different: someone adult and academic. Someone not unlike the Belgian man—a scholar versed in notions, concepts, and philosophies. 

But at my core, I am a wanderer--a storyteller, someone who needs a life laced in mystery the way I crave mid-afternoon sunlight during winter’s darkest days. I’m in love with lichen-cloaked fir trees and the smell of soil, with the driftwood that snarls the shore of Lake Superior, and the dew that coats my sleeping bag when I spend the night outside. I still don’t know if I believe in an afterlife but I trust in the holiness of the world we inhabit now. The faith I have isn’t grounded in my head, but in my hands and feet, the things I see and smell and touch and taste: the wonder that shrouds my sense of being in this world. In the beautiful words of writer David James Duncan, “Wonder is unknowing experienced as pleasure”--and as this point in my life, God has become a synonym for that unknowing, that wonder.

I love the poem, “Returning to Church” by Michael Dickman. I love how the poem conflates romantic love with the mystery of a mass in a way that leaves me unable to discern what moves the narrator more: I had forgotten/all the promises, they make/at church, singing/or/not singing--/a new body/a living water/I wanted to be very still and listen to her voice moving out in front of me/there are two houses/the dark and quiet/house of God/and the house of her/voice. I love the unselfconscious wonder in Dickman’s language—the way he calls the people in the pews strangers who aren’t strangers but his/ other homeless children. I love the way he adds an exclamation point after the line Everyone here is so nice! Following it with And they don’t even know me, they don’t think they have to. But my favorite line in the whole poem, the line that’s lingered with me this winter at Holden, each time we pass the peace or lay hands on someone praying at the cross, is hand after hand they take my hand, a prayer of bone. I hear it and picture all of you—the way we wave each other in and out of Holden Village and hug each other on Sundays, the way we eat together and pray together and hike together and knit together. The way we play board games with the village kids and check up on each other during times of illness or loss. A prayer of bone. 

The poet Rumi said, “Every moment Man receives a slap from the unseen.” Not a brush with the unseen, but a slap from it, an experience so direct and wondrous that we are left slack-jawed at the mystery. Unknowing experienced as pleasure. I believe in those moments. That’s why I came back church, why I spent hours sitting in silence in Quaker meetings in Tacoma, why I loved working alongside the Catholic Workers at the farm where I volunteered in Iowa, and why I choose to spend a year here at Holden. The first time I visited Holden Village, I met people able to sit with their questions, who honored wonder in all its forms, who seemed to celebrate those slaps from the Unseen. I knew I wanted to be here longer. Like four-year-old Vinnie, I wanted to check the mystery. I wanted to see what I could bring to this place, and what it could bring to me. 

Here at Holden, we have to opportunity to practice wonder. We live on such a small patch of land: a sliver between mountains. Many of us spend weeks within the same square mile. So we notice the way the sun shadows the peaks at different times of day. We note the texture of the ground beneath our feet, the changing shape of the snow. We learn to see the shifts in each other’s faces and we notice when someone wears something new: a sweater, a hair-cut, an expression of joy or of pain. We look forward to Sunday brunch and Tuesday pancakes. And when the seasons shift or the holidays come we cloak our lives in ritual: in snow-shaped prayer labyrinths lit by candles and Christmas tree bonfires. We make our time sacred, shrouding ourselves in silence and song, flickering candles and billowing fires, in prayers of bone and moments of mystery.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012: An Index

(I just finished reading Rebecca Lindenberg's beautiful book Love: An Index and I wanted to try out the form.  Lindenberg's index is an intensely moving tribute to a deceased lover.  Mine is a document of the places I've been over the past twelve months followed by associations.  This list is by no means exhaustive or even done but its a start--a way of playing with words and memories.)


The gas station on the side of Route 2 I stopped to photograph, once with a boyfriend, once by myself: paint petals flaking from the porch and rusted nails securing a red-and-white “CafĂ©” sign above the entryway--abandoned when gas was still less than a dollar a gallon.  In boots I walked floors littered with broken glass, pink insulation puffs, and ketchup packets. 

Where Mom and I split an order of spring rolls and Pad Thai and wandered the shops in Kerrytown fingering pocket watches, scarves laced with strands of silver, and jewelry formed from typewriter keys. 

Where I spent Easter.  Liz and I ate Indian food in the park near the co-op and exploded Peeps in the microwave of Scienceworks Hands-On Museum as part of a chemistry demonstration for kids.  On Easter Sunday we walked from one end of Ashland to the other, passing the place where a boy had been killed months before.  People had left pine cones and prayer cards, silk flowers and candles—a sight not of resurrection but of remembrance: water logged candles in the rain-soaked soil. 

I bought my first in Iowa, four years ago.  I used it to cross the country on both interstates and back roads until the pages wrinkled and logged with water, stained with coffee and scribbled with phone numbers, names of hostels, addresses of farmers markets and co-ops.  I replaced it August 2012 in Wall, South Dakota at a gas station which sold postcards, jerky, and wide-brim cowboy hats.  


Preferred method of travel--Route 2 in particular--that stretch of two-lane highway that runs from Everett, Washington to St. Ignace, Michigan just south of the Canadian border.  This year, I stopped at roadside espresso stands and diners.  I scrambled Steamboat Rock and sat above the Columbia River watching the sky darken before a storm.  

The most memorable of the year: May 5, during the Supermoon.  (My co-worker) Lauren’s friends burnt invasive scotch broom they’d pulled from roads around their farm.  The pile loomed over all our heads and when it lit, we all had to stand back from the blaze.  Dried yellow flowers seared like paper, blooming into flames that crackled above us.  I watched from the grass, ate rhubarb pie, and drank ginger tea laced with whiskey, looking up at the moon and letting the scent of smoke seep into my hair.

In 2012 there were several.  I recovered.  I bruised my shins and cut my knees climbing rocks.  Michigan soil stuck to my sweaty skin as I re-learned how to press my body against stone and earth soloing my route one foot at a time.  

Keith: a lifeline who makes me go swimming or fishing, running or climbing, on the days I feel most uncertain. 

I like the way they color my knees, marking the spots where I’ve slipped hiking or climbing with blots of purple, green, and blue.  Like the scars on my knees and knuckles they tell the story of someone brave enough to get hurt.


The most northwestern point on the continental United States.  (My cousin) Deidre and I drove four hours to dangle our feet over the cape’s edge--to look out at the point where Puget Sound meets Pacific Ocean and listen to the rush of water slapping rock.

I never went to camp as a kid—but as a twenty-six year old I worked at one.  I woke to the sound of clanking plates in the dining hall.  I went to sleep to the smell of cove-water and campfire.

On the coast of the pacific.  On the shores of Lake Ozette.  In the cedar grove outside Camp Seymour.  On a patch of grass beside a goat pen near Port Townsend.  In Glacier National Park. On the banks of the Two Hearted River.  In the shadow of Glacier Peak.  In a campground beside Hart Lake. 

Where I’ve lived since August.  A porch with a swing and a stove which burns wood.  Lamp lit living room and wood paneled walls.  I share this space with three women who fill it with novels and teacups, ginger cookies and rye whiskey, basil plants and British television DVDs, knit hats and winter boots.

A celebration of the local, popular in the late 19th and early 20th century--Roosevelt called them the “most American thing about America.”  Saturdays in Tacoma, I listened to my friend Derrick talk about Chautauquas.  We walked rain-splashed streets with cups of coffee in hand and plotted a future filled with potlucks and music, community gardens, and contra dancing.

I’ve gone (almost) every day for the past four months.  I like the ritual of it: silence and candles, hymn-singing and mediation.  But my favorite part is passing the peace: shaking hands, giving hugs.  Poet Michael Dickman calls it: A prayer of bone.

The lake where (my housemate) Kari and I canoed from her parents’ cottage to a vacant lot, overgrown with golden autumn grasses.  We beached our boat and talked until our eyes welled.  The lake sprawled still in all directions: a mirror of the cloud-streaked sky.


Home.  The place where I spent New Year’s Day 2012: exploring the snow-dusted sidewalks of the neighborhoods lining the Lodge, photographing murals inside the Guardian Building, eating crepes in Corktown, and sitting in silence at New City Friends Quaker Meeting.

(See back roads)

A sand pathway that arches almost six miles into the Puget Sound.  It lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains so I walked it on days when I needed dry air and the smell of salt.  I tottered up and down rocky coast and wobbled along wet sand until walking and waves became their own rhythm—an escape from work and relationships and rain.


In Iowa I helped Amos (age 4) and Lydia (age 7) build them from twigs and stones in the backyard. We braided strands of grass into fairy carpet and crafted tiny tables out of acorn tops. Now at my chalet in Holden, I have a tiny fairy house on my dresser, built from a fairy door (my cousin) Deidre bought in Ann Arbor, walnut, moss, bark, and lichen.

Uncertain. (See detour, back roads)


My first slumber party as a Holden Village resident: yurt glamping with twelve women, ages 23-59.  Boxed wine and a wood burning stove.  Stories of elementary school teachers, marriage proposals, and first loves.  Pasta with cream sauce warmed in cast iron and women lit by campfire and candles--eating out of coffee cups, drinking out of mason jars, occasionally exiting the yurt to squat on the path and pee in the snow.

Home to one of the families I feel closest to: a stop on my way west to Holden.  In Grinnell I climbed trees and built fairy houses, read stories and constructed forts, ate homemade pizza, and drank beer with one of my former professors on his porch.


The fjord that separates the Kitsap Peninsula from the Olympic Peninsula.  I crossed it when I traveled to the beach or the mountains.  At the Hood Canal Bridge, the road splits and the landscape shifts from Douglas firs and cedars too thick to see beyond, to Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains.

The thickest forest I’ve ever been in: moss-covered nurse logs and big leaf maple canopies that blot out sun.  In April I wandered it with two women.  We let our hair dampen in the dew and bent to run our fingers along the lichen-laced bark.  We walked the hall of mosses and took photographs of elk butts along the Hoh River Trail.  Two days later, after I’d broken up with my boyfriend, one of my travel buddies knocked on my door and pressed a drawing she’d done into my hand: a picture of a women woven into the bark of a big tree.  On the back she’d written: Living in a Cedar Tree.  Hoh Rainforest 2012. 

To get to Holden Lake, you switch-back up Railroad Creek Valley, traversing avalanche chutes, nearly two thousand feet above the trailhead—till you get to a lake scraped by glaciers; clear enough to mirror the mountains in its surface.  Mom and I hiked to Holden in the September sun, photographing the mountain-shadowed valley below us, as we caught up on a month of conversation.   In November, two friends and I hiked to Holden in snow, skittering up and down the mountain in slippery small steps.  We talked about things that felt solid as we climbed frost-glazed switchbacks.

A remote community in the mountains—three hours away from the nearest shopping center or cell phone signal. The place where I’ve planted myself for (at least) the next year.  This winter over sixteen feet of snow has fallen on the village.  Some days I sled to work.  By mid-day the sun rises over the mountains, breaking winter-gray, and I’m taken aback by the way light shades Cascade peaks, making the snow on too bright to look at in some places and shadowing in the depth and curve of cliffs in others. 

My family.  Detroit.  Liz, Brenna, Amanda, Annie, Anna, Bekah, Danielle--friends who make me feel settled just by being in the same kitchen or coffee shop.  Holden Village.  Michigan.  The Great Lakes.  The Upper Peninsula.  My car.  A notebook.  A trail.  A cup of coffee.  Books.  Words.  Water. 

My orange car—nicknamed my “noble steed” by (my former housemate) Anna because of the way it accompanies me adventuring. This year I’ve driven it around the Olympic Peninsula, down the Oregon Coast, around Mount Rainier, through the Cascades, across northern Montana, through the Badlands and Black Hills.


Home of my friend Liz—a place I visited for the first time this year.  Liz and I picnicked at Table Rock, eating black bean brownies and granola under white medal cross then scrambled up cliffs colored in graffiti so dense that the words melted into nothing but color, smears of red and blue and pink on the sandstone.


Site of the Blackberry Cafe where my cousin and I stopped twice during our trip to the Pacific coast.  We loved it for the booth seating, the regulars in baseball caps bantering, the sweet potato fries, and the blackberry cobbler.

I learned from a boy from Muckleshoot Tribal School that Washington natives consider it a sacred act.  So I waited until my body felt heavy with thought before I stripped down to my shorts and sports bra and jumped from the dock at Camp Seymour.  I swam with otters and seals, wearing shoes so my skin didn't snag on barnacles.


The big body of water that cuts through the North Cascades, separating Holden Village from the nearest city.  Poet William Stafford wrote of it, "Everything we own has brought us here: from here we speak."


My favorite grocery store in Tacoma.  On Sundays, after Quaker meeting, I went to Marlene’s to buy bags of whole wheat flour, olive oil, kale, cauliflower, and chocolate.  Some days, when I didn’t want to return to my dorm room at the YMCA lingered at Marlene's -drinking fair-trade coffee and reading poetry in the deli section.  I stayed until closing time, occasionally pausing my reading to re-walk the aisles of sweet potato chips and dried dates, kombucha and ginger beer, Dr. Bronner’s soaps and Burt’s Bees balms.


The western point of the Olympic Peninsula, not far from where (my cousin) Deidre and I decided to camp in February.  It got dark at seven.  We couldn’t start a fire with the driftwood we found on the shores of Lake Ozette so we shivered all night, huddled together in a tent that sagged in the rain.  In the morning we woke with numb feet and cold-whitened skin, and too chilled to imagine hiking from our campsite as planned, we drove into Neah Bay for to eat at a diner called “The Warm House.”  We washed our faces with hot water in the bathroom, ordered French toast and scrambled eggs, and thanked our waitress each time she refilled our cups with hot coffee.

Bioluminescent phytoplankton that glow.  When I kayaked the Puget Sound at night, they lit the water around my boat, making the water sparkle like a firefly-filled sea.


Brackish water, an estuary where rivers meet the sea.  Water dense with sea stars and seals, sea jellies and barnacles, stretching its way across the state Washington from the Pacific coast. 


Where my favorite television show was filmed.  After dropping my cousin off at the airport I drove to Rosalyn  by myself to photograph the famous mural and to eat over-priced salad at the diner where Northern Exposure characters Joel and Maggie bantered their way through the early 90s.


This summer, I woke Mom in the middle of the night to watch meteors sweep across the sky but city lights obscured our vision so all we could do was lay on our backs and squint.  We covered our bodies in blankets and stayed in the backyard till tiredness blurred our vision and dew made the night chill.

A stopping point, home to my first friend in Washington.  The place where I wake early to drink coffee in a wood-floored room that glows golden at sunrise.

My favorite Great Lake.  Cold water that separates Michigan from Canada--where I swam in my underwear this summer on a day when I needed to lay back and fade into something deep.  


My solo birthday hike.  I stopped just in shadow of the summit, unable to make it up the ice-slicked scree in wind.  

TWO-HEARTED RIVER                                                                                         
The place where my brother and I traveled to camp and retrace Hemingway stories.  We cast in the water where Nick Adams fished.  We stood in the river smoking pipe tobacco while we read short stories out loud.  We jumped in the river and let the speed of water sweep us into Lake Superior.