Welcome To The Lake Lovers // Sam Corden
Welcome to The Lake Lovers.
This latest series by Katherine is a tribute to our lovely home. A great state. The Great Lakes State.
When she first asked me to be a part of this piece, my fingers itched to write. Much of our childhood was spent along the shores of Lake Michigan, where we grew from little ones crawling in the sand, to now, young adults invested in the place that offered us so much to learn from and love.
For countless northern souls, the landscapes of rolling dunes, soft beneath your feet… the sounds of waves crashing rhythmically… or the October sun peering through golden leaves - that’s who you are. That’s what we are. It’s true that in Michigan you may find yourself in any number of abandoned factory towns, or in the depths of an unsightly salt mine; but if you choose to seek it, Michigan is a place that still offers the natural wonder that much of the world has lost… It’s a place to become a part of nature, all the while, the boundless beauty of Michigan becomes a part of you.
If you’re from Michigan, or even a transplant that it’s grabbed hold of, then you know - it isn’t just where we grew up; it’s a place that raised us. It’s turned me into the environmentalist that I am, and it’s turned Katherine into the painter that you’ve all come to know. Now in our older years, each in our own way, we’re finding paths to begin serving as the new generation of lake protectors - ensuring that same love is passed forward for years to come. Hopefully her new series of beach bums and linens, summer days and friends, will help to remind you that it’s a corner of the planet worth preserving, no matter the effort it may take from us all.
The mitten has 3,288 miles of shoreline. Within the U.S., that’s second only to Alaska.
Our state is home to more than 11,000 inland lakes. That means anytime you’re in need of a swim, wherever you may be, you’re never beyond a six-mile stroll with a furry friend.
And most amazingly, we have more than 20% of the worlds accessible fresh water at our feet. That fact alone deserves a humbling sense of appreciation. 20. Percent.
What a rarity that the earth should form itself in a way that lets us swim in not one freshwater ocean, but five. What fortune to have beaches that rival the sandy Mecca’s of Mozambique or California. What fortune to have fish and waterfowl alongside the stags. Pines alongside the dunes. Lovers alongside the lakes.
Michigan is a place unlike anywhere else I’ve found; and though I haven’t been everywhere in the world, my list is long. Nowhere else has ever given me the feeling… the essence, that only Michigan can. The midwestern kindness that welcomes you in; the smell of each season that so brazenly arrives; the soft glow of the 45th parallel that lets you know: You’ve arrived north.
However romantic our home may be, it’s important to remember that beyond the sheer beauty that The Lake Lovers revels in, it’s up to all of us to cherish what we’ve been so generously gifted, and to ensure that we share it responsibly. Every Michigander isn’t lucky in the same way. Some may never get close to its pristine shorelines, nor even drink clean water from their tap. Native children can no longer access the waterways that their ancestors once fished; and urban children may never know the sounds of the woods around them. These are issues that an Instagram post will never fix, but throughout this series, Katherine and I will be trying our best to shed a little light where we can, how we can. Whether it’s voting for environmental candidates on the 6th, or simply remembering to make some alone time with nature while you collect a bag of litter, what you choose to do with the inspiration that stems from her colors or my words, is entirely up to you.
Just remember: Even if you’re not lucky enough to be loving the lake today… love those near and far; love the crisp autumn air with no distraction but the sound of your feet; love the sun and the rain and all that you can; because, at the end of the day, it’s all that we’ve got, and loving it is all up to you.
See you again soon.
The Lake Lovers
Sam Corden is Katherine’s first cousin, and first best friend. More like a brother really.
Journalist. Photographer. Environmentalist.
Sam is a Michigan native based in New Haven, CT, pursuing a Masters of Environmental Management with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Work has been published by: Great Lakes Today, Great Lakes Echo, PRX - Public Radio Exchange, Ideastream, Michigan Public Radio, Interlochen Public Radio, WBFO Buffalo, Bridge Magazine, Traverse City Record Eagle, and North Country Public Radio.